BIRC news

Brianna Kinnie Receives 2021 BIRC Excellence Award

The BIRC is pleased to announce the second annual BIRC Excellence Award, which highlights the achievements of a student, staff, faculty member, lab, or group who has made exceptional contributions towards advancing the goals of the BIRC as outlined in the Mission Statement:

  • To facilitate scientific discovery and theoretical and methodological innovation
  • To serve as an intellectual center for interdisciplinary basic and clinical research
  • To prepare graduate students and post-doctoral fellows for careers in academia and related fields
  • To provide undergraduate students with research experience and other educational opportunities
  • To disseminate scientific knowledge to the broader university community, relevant professional communities, and the general public
  • The BIRC Excellence Award is awarded on an annual basis at the end of each Fall semester. Awardees are selected by BIRC staff and confirmed by the BIRC steering committee.

Congratulations to our 2021 BIRC Excellence Award Recipient, Brianna Kinnie, B.S.! Brianna is a project coordinator supervised by Professor Fumiko Hoeft. Brianna coordinated recruitment and research activities for two R01 projects, contributed to undergraduate training, and provided coverage as a Technologist Assistant for clinical scanning, a significant source of revenue for BIRC.

MRI Safety Week July 26 – August 1, 2021

The last week in July is universally recognized as “MR Safety Week,” inspired by the anniversary and 2001 tragic MRI-related death of Michael Colombini, age 6, resulting from a steel oxygen cylinder being brought into the MRI room during his exam. The initial goal of this week was to prevent such a tragedy from happening again and has expanded into a week-long event giving us a chance to refresh our safety education and highlight some of the issues we all face in the MR environment.


Given that ‘magnetic’ is the first part of the name, many people know that MRI scanners attract magnetizable metals to them, potentially with alarming force. But do you know the other risk(s) that our staff actively manage to help keep MRI participants, patients and workers safe? See if you can pick out the other risk (or risks) that is (are) particular to MRI…


  • An MRI can act on your inner-ear and give you a sense of vertigo / make you dizzy.
  • MRI’s magnetic fields can cause non-MRI-friendly mechanical medication pumps to malfunction, potentially delivering too much, or too little medication.
  • During MRI imaging, energies deposited into the patient’s body can slightly elevate their core temperature.
  • During MRI imaging, certain electromagnetic pulses have been known to ‘trick’ implanted pacemakers into delivering inappropriate & potentially dangerous ‘corrective’ shocks.
  • During MRI imaging, some wires in the tube with the patient can heat up and burn the MRI patient.
  • During MRI imaging, sometimes electrical currents will flow through the patient’s body, concentrating in small spots where the patient will develop burns.
  • Implanted objects made out of magnetizable metals can pull or tear the tissues that they’re next to when attracted by the MRI’s magnetic field.


If you read through them all, and had a hard time narrowing the list down to one or two, that’s probably because this is a bit of a trick question… all seven of the above items are real risks / hazards that come from MRI in addition to pulling metal objects across the room.

As always, if you ever have a question about the safety of an object in the MRI environment, please contact us. We are happy to help!

Elisa Medeiros, Manager, MRI Services

Morgan Brennan, MRI Technologist

Tanda Dumas, MRI Technologist

Johnny Hernandez, MRI Technologist

Skyler Sklenarik, IBRAiN intern

Content courtesy of Tobias Gilk and ISMRM

Fumiko Hoeft and Colleagues Receive NIH U24 Grant

Five new research networks totaling $3.13 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health will allow investigators to refine and test key concepts that advance the study of emotional well-being.

Fumiko Hoeft, Sandra Marshall, and Crystal Park, in collaboration with UConn InCHIP, UConn Neag School of Education, and UConn Research, have just received funding for their NIH U24 grant exploring the underlying mechanisms of mind-body interventions and measurement of Emotional Well Being. Utilizing imaging resources available at BIRC, this project will illuminate the role of emotional well-being in mind and body interventions as both an outcome itself and as a mechanism in improving mental and physical health outcomes. (Grant U24 AT011281-01; NICHD, OBSSR, and ODP are co-funding partners)

In addition to UConn, the list of research networks includes University of Alabama, University of Wisconsin-Madison, UCSF, and University of Rochester.

For more information, visit UConn Today

More information about the scope of this grant can be found on the NCCIH Research Blog




BIRC awarded CLAS equipment grant for EEG bundle

BIRC has been awarded a CLAS equipment grant for an “EEG Bundle” to be used with BIRC’s hdEEG system. This includes a combination of a Cedrus Stim Tracker and replacement of EEG caps.

The Cedrus Stim Tracker is a tool that accurately aligns the experimental stimuli presented and neuronal activity. While EEG purports to have excellent temporal resolution, it is only true if the experimental stimuli are generated and presented, and neural activity collected in sync. This is not as easy and automated as it should be; currently, even with the latest hdEEG systems, without a tool like the Cedrus Stim Tracker, as much as 30ms of variability is observed that can occur unpredictably and/or drift over time. This is an unacceptable large variability compared to the neural time-scale of a couple of milliseconds. Cedrus Stim Tracker tracks the precise onset and offset of various stimuli for every trial, and marks it directly in the EEG data file. This not only makes the researchers accurately analyze data and prevents “data smear”, but also facilitates data analyses by automating the tedious process of cross-checking and marking data manually. This is now becoming a necessary tool for all EEG experiments, especially those that require fine-grained temporal information, have multi-modal information (e.g. auditory and visual stimuli) delivered to the subjects, and eliminates the complexity and unreliability of other synchronization methods.