Have a question?

Call us: 416-813-7654 ext. 202274

Email us: tammy.rayner@sickkids.ca, ruth.weiss@sickkids.ca

Internal Email: researchmri.team@sickkids.ca

SickKids Research MRI Core Facility

We support internal and external scientists and medical physicians’ research by providing access to dedicated, state-of-the-art Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) equipment.

Led by a front-line team of child-friendly, experienced SickKids staff, we offer several key MR imaging services through our premier MRI system – the Siemens PrismaFit – to veteran and novice investigators interested in advancing their research.

Researchers worldwide use the facility for various types of work, employing the Siemens PrismaFit to scan wide varieties of age populations from fetal to geriatric, diagnosed populations, and more.

MR imaging capabilities

The Research MRI facility has been used by researchers globally, assisting in various paediatric studies including phantoms, specimens, fetal to geriatric age range and more. The facility has managed and processed over 300 Research Ethics Board-approved studies for both internal and external principal investigators, making it a leading facility for all types of paediatric MRI research.

Our current MRI system, the Siemens PrismaFit, offers several in-demand imaging capabilities for researchers:

  • 48 RF Channel Package
  • Conventional anatomical imaging
  • SMS (simultaneous multi-slice for TSE, EPI Diffusion, BOLD, Resolve)
  • fMRI (functional imaging)
  • MNS (multinuclear spectroscopy, 129Xe Xenon, 19F Fluorine and 31P Phosphorus)
  • Idea Licensing and research agreement with Siemens
  • Expert-i
  • Advanced Cardiac Imaging (4D Flow, MyoMaps)
  • MAPit (inline calculation of parametric maps of cartilage)
  • ZOOMit (zoomed imaging for increased lesion detection)
  • ASL and PCASL (2D or 3D brain perfusion imaging)
  • TIM Whole Body Suite
  • SVS-Edit (detection and relative quantification of j-coupled metabolites)

Exclusive benefits for researchers

Conducting research at SickKids not only ensures you’re working with skilled staff backed by top-end infrastructure and equipment, but you’ll gain access to a number of benefits and services exclusive to our facility.

These are just a handful of value-added benefits available to researchers at our facility:

  • Multinuclear spectroscopy Xenon, Fluorine and Phosphorus capabilities
  • MRI compatible LODE up/down leg ergometer to exercise
  • Audiovisual system for participant comfort and fMRI display
  • RespirAct Thornhill Medical device to measure vascular reactivity
  • Invivo Expression human physiological monitor
  • MRI compatible incubator/ventilator for neonatal imaging
  • Bair Hugger, MRI device to warm the surrounding air for participants with sensitivities
  • IV-line wave guide
  • Calpendo, a self-scheduling system – book participants at a time that’s convenient for them and yourself (schedule restrictions may apply)
  • LCModel spectroscopic postprocessing
  • Research PACS (Ambra Health) storage and transferring capabilities (contact researchhelpdesk@sickkids.cafor more information)
  • Assessment room – free to book for behavioral assessments, data collection on subjects that are booked for an MRI research study

Our rates

For more information on facility costs, or to access our rate information in an alternative format, please contact us.

 MRI Research GrantMRI Industry SponsoredMRI Commercial Use
Human$250/30 min≥$600/30 minN/A
Other$150/30 minTo be determinedTo be determined
MRT After Hours$45/30 min$90/30 min$45/30 min
Gadovist$75/7.5ml single use vial$150/7.5ml single use vial$75/7.5ml single use vial
Phantom Scan with MRT$300/QA scan$600/QA scan$1000/hour (MRT Operated)
Phantom Scan no MRT$200/QA scan$400/QA scan$500/hour (MRT Supervised)


MRI Research Grant – Grant sponsored research studies are awards for conducting research that have undergone a competitive process and are peer reviewed. Funding is provided by but not limited to the government and charitable foundations.

MRI Industry Sponsored – Industry sponsored research studies are funded by a for-profit organization, performed by the non-profit Research MRI Core facility. The objective of the for-profit organization is to advance/develop a product and then distribute to the commercial market.

MRI Commercial Use – For profit companies who require use of MRI equipment for product and technical development.

Application process

  1. Before you can book the 3.0T Siemens PrismaFit, all research studies must obtain Research Ethics Board (REB) approval. Assistance from Legal services and/or the Research Institute Grants Management Office may be required for external research projects.
  2. Complete the Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS) Training, which is mandatory for all involved in human research.
  3. Applications are reviewed by a Research MRI technologist. You and/or your collaborators may be contacted for further protocol/sequence development and equipment testing if necessary.
  4. The Research MRI Application Form (PDF) can be completed and submitted entirely online. You’ll also need to fill out the Human Intake Form. A link to the Human Intake Form is also accessible in the MRI Application Form PDF.
  5. Once approved, you’ll receive access to our online self-scheduling system, Calpendo, for MRI and research assessment room bookings. Calpendo is only accessible from within the SickKids network (via VPN). Non-SickKids staff can contact the Research MRI team to set up their bookings.

Facility procedures


All participants and personnel must complete the appropriate entry screening upon arrival to the Hospital.

Physical distancing

Human participants
  1. Coordinators should pre-screen participant and caregiver via phone/email 2-3 days prior to their hospital visit. This additional measure will reduce the number of families unnecessarily entering the facility when ill and prevent last minute cancellations.
  2. As per hospital policy and current guidelines, PPE must be worn by staff, participant and family member throughout the Research MRI visit, with the option of removal during the MRI scan due to participant comfort and/or safety.
Technical development/Phantom/Other Scanning
  • System use for technical development should follow hospital guidelines for shared resources and occupancy.
  • Technical development staff/users should confirm with Research MRI the suite is cleaned and vacant prior to arrival.

Equipment Sanitization

Even though Research MRI is cleaned daily by hospital services, study staff are expected to sanitize the spaces used in the course of their research. This includes but is not limited to the MRI scanner and related work areas, keyboards, audio visual equipment and phantoms. Staff are also expected to physical distance and exercise Public Health best practices while in the Research MRI suite. The equipment is to be cleaned with appropriate disinfectant after work is completed by the individual, this will be provided by the Research MRI department. Waiting areas are to be cleaned as per hospital guidelines.

Once a research project application is approved, the investigator or team delegate will be given access to the online booking system, Calpendo.

Calpendo is only accessible from within the SickKids network (via VPN). Non-SickKids staff can contact the Research MRI team to set up their bookings.

Scheduling guidelines

For participant confidentiality and privacy, following the Tri-Council Policy Statement, do not put participant personal information such as initials, age, gender, diagnostic, etc. in the booking comments. Instead, use participant codes if you wish to distinguish your bookings.


An active REB is required for bookings in Calpendo. The system will not allow an expired REB/study account to schedule participants. Calpendo will send an automatic email requesting the new REB when a project is due for REB renewal. If you receive a notice about REB expiry or booking ability has stopped, please inform the study investigator immediately and forward the REB renewal letter to researchmri.team@sickkids.ca.

Booking approval and automatic denials

Reserving time without confirmed participants is not permitted. Calpendo booking approval depends on a signed Epic order, otherwise the Calpendo booking will remain “Requested”. Bookings that remain in a “Requested” state will be automatically cancelled based on the following schedule:

If there are:

  • 20 or more business days between the booking and appointment, a warning email will be sent 10 business days after booking
  • Between 10 and 19 business days between booking and appointment, a warning email will be sent 2 business days after booking
  • Between 4 and 9 business days between booking and appointment, a warning email will be sent 1 business day after booking
  • Less than 3 business days between booking and appointment, a warning email will be sent immediately after booking
  • For bookings past the project expiry date and past the above deadlines, a warning email will be sent 1 business day after the project is extended

Bookings will be automatically cancelled if they are still unapproved 24 hours after the warning email was sent for less than 20 business days and 48 hours if greater than 20 business days.

Time allocation

Bookings are made in increments of 30 minutes and will include:

  • time in the suite for setting up equipment
  • preparing participants (placing fiducials, attending to their comfort, explaining tasks, etc.),
  • actual recording/scanning time,
  • and equipment disassembly.

The area should be cleared and ready for the next group by the end of the booked time. In the event the study is not completed within the booked time the scan may be terminated or the additional time billed in 30 minute increments if the schedule allows.

Cancelling booked sessions

If the investigator is not able to attend the booked session, 48 hours notice is required for a no-penalty cancellation. Please notify the MRI Team and remove your code from the schedule.

If 48 hours notice is not given prior to cancellation, the study will be charged for 50% of the scheduled time at the normal rate.

In the event of expected or unexpected downtime, the Research MRI team will inform the investigators and research coordinators. It is the responsibility of the study team to notify and reschedule participants.

Special bookings

Your study may require booking a participant outside of our regular operating hours.

We occasionally accommodate special bookings when we have a technologist available. Please contact the MRI technologist directly for special booking requests. There will be an overtime fee added to the regular hourly rate for your session.

Note that all paediatrics and/or diagnosed participants must be scanned by a registered technologist. Human-funded healthy volunteers, phantoms, specimens may be scanned by a trained researcher. Basic research scanning can be booked outside regular hours directly.

Assessment Room

There is a small assessment room in the Research MRI & MEG Reception area that is available to book for free. This can be used for running behavioural assessments, etc. on participants that are booked for an MRI research study on the same day or within a few days.

To facilitate new grant submissions, SickKids investigators with REB approval collect data on our research MRI systems to support proposed grants. Data is used to create figures for a grant, but aren’t intended for publication or to act as a pilot study in substitution of a proposed grant.

Data is normally provided from a small number of participants (less than five). This is the typical procedure that is followed:

  1. The principal investigator (PI), who is a permanent SickKids staff member, contacts Dr. Chris Macgowan by email with:
    • Title of the grant
    • Proposed funding agencies and dates for submission
    • Expected budget amount
    • Requested number of MRI hours/examinations
  2. The PI, Dr. Macgowan and a technologist will meet to discuss the project. From there, we’ll need the following
    • Justification of hours/examination requested and time line for studies.
    • Outline of expected future usage of the research MRI once the project is funded.
  3. Following the meeting, Dr. Macgowan will e-mail the applicant with a decision, including the number of approved hours/examinations and a booking code for the study.

Please arrive with your participant 30 minutes ahead of your scheduled scan time at the Research MRI-MEG Reception.

This time allows for participant registration, clothes change, and final screening (including contrast screening for the participant, or non-Patient screening for the parent/guardian if required).

When the technologist is ready, you’ll be directed to the MRI suite and the scan or experiment will begin.

As data gets deleted regularly from the system, please verify that all your data is properly transferred and intact after each collection. It’s the researcher’s responsibility to maintain data, as there is no long-term backup system within Research MRI. It is imperative to copy and verify all data immediately after scan. Investigators looking for secure file storage should consider RIT’s File Storage Services or purchase their own backup solution.

Transferring data

Researchers can get their data from the scanner using any one of the following methods:

  • Research PACS, Ambra Health
  • Dicom node transfer: transfer directly from the scanner to a Linux box or virtual machine within the hospital firewall
  • Provide access to copy data to a RIT Carbon file share

Meet our facility staff

Our staff is a diverse and vibrant group that brings experience, technique and skills to assist your research needs. Learn more about each of our facility members below.

Tammy Rayner, MRT (MR)(R)

Senior Research MRI Technologist and Site Manager

Tammy has dedicated her career to SickKids MRI since 1999. She helped pioneer the research MRI facility in 2004, bringing her enthusiastic, creative, caring nature to volunteers and participants.

Ruth Weiss, MRT (MR)(R)

Senior Research MRI Technologist and Site Manager

Ruth has been practicing MRI since 2004 and joined the Research MRI team in 2007. Her knowledge and experience from other diagnostic disciplines provides additional compassion and sensitivity to the team and participants.

Elizabeth Robertson

Patient Information Clerk

Beth joined the Research MRI team in 2015. Going above and beyond to assist those in need as a patient information clerk, she brings an extra personal touch from her Bachelor of Science in psychology and anthropology.

Christopher Macgowan, PhD

Scientific Director, Research MRI

Senior Scientist, Translational Medicine, SickKids Research Institute

University of Toronto, Associate Professor, Department of Medical Biophysics

Visit Dr. Macgowan’s full staff profile

Jordan Heckbert

Administrative Assistant to Dr. Chris Macgowan

Translational Medicine

The Hospital for Sick Children

Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning

Contact us

For additional questions about the MRI facility including bookings, rates, equipment, services or availability, please get in touch!

416-813-7654 ext. 202274 

The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids)
Room S720
555 University Avenue
Toronto, ON
M5G 1X8

Contact us

For additional questions about the MRI facility including bookings, rates, equipment, services or availability, please get in touch!

416-813-7654 ext. 202274 

The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids)
Room S720
555 University Avenue
Toronto, ON
M5G 1X8