Prior to scheduling, all projects are discussed to assure the imaging experiments, have the highest probability of achieving success. In the event sufficient imaging or scientific expertise is not available, that expertise is brought in from the SAIC advisory committee or other imaging experts at the University of Iowa.
Prior to imaging, all projects must have necessary regulatory approvals, including an approved Animal Protocol, Hazard Containment Protocol, and Radiation Use Approval. Core staff are intimately familiar with these procedures and routinely provide guidance to Investigators.
Before any studies are commenced, costs associated with each aspect of the project are discussed and put in writing so as to avoid confusion. SAIC standard rates are established, but as each project requires different amounts of personnel and equipment time, each project requires individual attention. Some internal funding for promising pilot projects is available for collection of pilot data for identified granting opportunities.
SAIC staff will work with Investigators to determine an overall imaging schedule that will best fit with the Investigators timetable.
Pre-imaging Animal Prep
Prior to the day of imaging, the SAIC Technical Director will contact the Investigator with instructions regarding pre-imaging preparation (i.e. dietary restrictions, drug therapies, etc.) Any surgeries will be the responsibility of the Investigator.
Imaging and Reconstruction
SAIC personnel will be responsible for image acquisition and reconstruction for microPET, microCT and microSPECT. SAIC archives all image data on site in their 12 TB RAID-5 PACS system. Image data is redundantly stored off-site at the University's Information Technology Facility. Investigators are encouraged to provide a USB hard drive for storage of their data.
Image Processing and Data Analysis
Image processing is a complex and subtle science. In consultation with the Investigator, preliminary data analysis on the first few animals is performed by the SAIC image processing experts. Following this approach assures the analysis method is both correct and robust for the imaging application. Once the analysis method is proceduralized, the Investigator or their staff are instructed in the use of the workstations and analysis software.
Funding for Pilot Studies
The College of Medicine, through the Department of Radiology, supplies funding for small proof-of-principle pilot imaging projects with identified grant opportunities. These pilot studies are submitted to the SAIC executive committee who discuss the project with the Investigator during the project consultation stage (1, above). Approved projects then follow the steps described above.