NIC Guidelines

Neuroscience Imaging Center

University of California, Irvine


Guidelines for Access to Facilities for Research on Human Subjects


The purpose of the Neuroscience Imaging Center (NIC) is to facilitate MRI and PET imaging-based research on the UC Irvine campus. The NIC is currently responsible for the operation of a 3 Tesla Philips Achieva MRI scanner and a High Resolution Research Tomograph (HRRT) PET scanner as well as a range of research support functions including assistance with setting-up and running experiments, data acquisition, reconstruction, and storage/transfer. In addition, the NIC supports Linux, Mac, and PC workstations dedicated to the analysis of MRI and PET data, located in Irvine Hall.

The guidelines laid out below are intended to allow the NIC to employ its resources as efficiently as possible in order to facilitate the research of those using the Center.

1. Neuroscience Imaging Center Hours

  1. Prime-Time Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM. Prime time will be based on your scheduled start time.
  2. After-Hours: Monday – Friday, 5:15 PM - 8:45 AM, all day Saturday, and Sunday.
  3. Rates for the above hours are listed on page 3.

2. Basic Rules

  1. Food, water, drinks, and snacks are not allowed in the 3T MRI trailer or in the PET facility. Violation of this rule will lead to suspension of the PI’s NIC      privileges.
  2. The doors to the 3T MRI Trailer and PET facility are to remain closed at all times. It is not allowable to prop open these doors.
  3. Each principal investigator (PI) is responsible for cleaning up after their session. Trash must be put in the appropriate receptacle and not left elsewhere in the facility.
  4. Each PI is responsible for timeliness, both arriving to and departing from the scanner.
  5. Each PI is responsible for the actions of their staff, subjects and/or patients.

3. IRB approval

In accordance with UCI policy, data collection involving human subjects cannot be initiated prior to Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. The NIC will be happy to advise on the submission of applications. Advice should be sought well before submission.

4. Study Proposal Application:

The subject matter of the research programs pursued at the NIC will be determined entirely by the community of researchers using its facilities. The ability to pay the access charge does not, however, confer an automatic right to use these facilities. To ensure that research projects and programs are of adequate quality and that requested resources can be provided within the required time scale, each PI must submit a brief proposal using the appropriate form (Funded Project Proposal). To assist investigators who wish to apply for extramural grants to fund research with an imaging component, up to 15 hours of scan time for pilot data and testing is available (Unfunded Pilot Project Proposal).

Proposals should be submitted by email attachment to the NIC administrator: (

All proposals will be reviewed using the following criteria:

a. The investigator has no bonus hours.

b. The project represents a new line of research and/or the PI is new to imaging (and/or imaging at UCI).

c. The plan for use of the pilot data (i.e., extramural grant proposal submission) has promise.

Proposals will be assessed as quickly as possible after receipt, typically 1-3 days.

The NIC should be consulted well ahead of the start date of any project intending to use its facilities to ensure that the proposed methods are technically feasible and to give the Center sufficient time to put in place any changes in the data acquisition procedures that may be required.

5. Billing Categories and Policies

  1. Paid Hours: Scanning time is paid in full.

      b.  Bonus Hours (MRI only): These are credits earned for every paid hour. For every paid hour, each PI accumulates15 minutes of bonus credit. Bonus      time is cumulative (banked) and can be applied to Lost Hours, Programming, or Testing. No more than 40 bonus hours can be carried over from year to year. (The fiscal year starts on July 1st and ends on June 30th.)  Bonus hours may not be transferred between PI's.

      c.   Lost Hours (MRI only): Lost Hours are defined as reserved time slots that go unused. A PI may hold a slot for 2 hours without penalty, after which the slot will be considered reserved. Lost hours incur the regular charge (PET and MRI) or can be covered with bonus hours (MRI only). If a PI loses more than 25% of the slots for two consecutive months, and this is impacting other users, that PI may incur special limits to his/her scheduling privileges.

      d.  Unfunded Pilot Data: New projects are eligible for 15 hours of scanner time for use in collecting pilot data or other developments needed to obtain extramural funding. (Note that investigators are responsible for the purchase of PET isotopes). The Unfunded Pilot Project Proposal must be submitted and approved by the NIC before scheduling unfunded pilot time.

      e.  Billing Adjustments for Technical Problems: A “technical problem” includes basic scanner functions as well as functionality of the standard ancillary equipment (projectors, button boxes, etc.). Problems should be reported immediately for Prime Hours appointments and on the next business day for After Hours appointments. If technical problems arise with the scanner, there will be no charge for lost time. The MRI or PET physicists will make the decision on whether a problem is a technical problem. This decision can be appealed to the Director of Operations. It is important to remember that the scheduling system is also the billing system, and adjustments will need to be documented.

The NIC’s policy is that billing will not be adjusted for:

              i.        Technical problems not reported in the requested time frame (see previous section).

              ii.        Time lost due to problems that are the responsibility of the PI or the Operator (e.g., if the subject is late or doesn’t show, the PI’s computer fails, problems with protocols, or the Operator uses the wrong pulse sequence parameters).

             iii.        Minor system glitches that do not prevent completion of the scan session (e.g., the scan could be completed after a TPS reset or a cable reconnected).

Note that the physiological monitoring equipment is not considered standard equipment.

6. Access to scanners:

Use of the scanners is associated with an access (recovery) charge, which is reviewed annually.

            a. MRI billing:

The charges for the 2015/2016 fiscal year are $475 without operator assistance, $375 between 5pm and 9pm, $525 with operator assistance, $555 with a certified MRI technician (mainly for clinical studies), and $803 for outside vendors (includes 53% F&A and operator assistance). Note, these costs increase approximately 5% from year to year. The charge covers data acquisition, and transfer of images and associated data (e.g., behavioral measures) over the UCI network. Data are the responsibility of the PI and should not be considered to be archived by the NIC.

            b. PET billing:

Current billing rates for use of the PET scanner (2014/2015) are:

            Scans using AV-45/AV-1451: $2000 + AV-45/AV-1451 dose

            Scans using FDG: $2,000 + $350 FDG dose

                        Legal scans: $2,000 + $660 Professional Fee+ $350 FDG Dose 

7. Scheduling

  1. MRI Scheduling 

a.  There is a 30 minute scheduling minimum. Time for setting up and cleaning up must be included in the scheduled time and is billed.

b.   Appointments over 30 minutes can be scheduled in increments of 15 minutes.

c.   Time for programming, testing, training, and pilot scans cannot be scheduled more than one week in advance.

To see the dates and times the MRI is booked, as well as to make an appointment, please visit:

Scanning slots canceled at short notice will be announced via email, and will be available on a “first come, first served” basis to researchers who have an available subject. To receive notification of such cancellations, please send an email to the NIC administrator ( requesting to be put on the relevant list.

  1. PET Scheduling

To schedule a PET scan please call the NIC office at 949-824-7872.

8. Training of operators (MRI):

The NIC trains experienced users as MR research operators. For information regarding operator training please contact Dr. Duke Shereen (

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