Remote access in preclinical imaging services

Published: 2020-06-25

Imaging facilities across the globe are scrambling to adapt remote procedures - or new, stricter hygiene measures - that make it possible to open and operate in the COVID-19 era. But for some facilities, remote access is business as usual. Enzo Terreno, coordinator of Euro-BioImaging’s Multimodal Molecular Imaging Node in Italy, shares his experience providing remote access to the Molecular & Preclinical Imaging Centers (M & PIC) at the University of Torino. Detailed specification and close communication with the user from the onset of a study are key from his point of view. 

The Multi Modal Molecular Imaging (MMMI) Italian Node is a multi-sited Node focused on biomedical imaging, and offering expertise and technical skills for the acquisition and analysis of “in vivo” images obtained by the most relevant state-of-the-art imaging technologies, such as PET, MRI, Optical, and CT. Standard users of this facility are not imaging experts, and they rely on the Molecular & Preclinical Imaging Center for a turn-key solution that ranges from synthesizing compounds to preparing animal models to data analysis. Projects usually run from 4 to 6 weeks, and there is no need for the user to be on site, although there are several obligatory check-points during the course of a project. 

User interaction 

After a project has been approved via the Euro-BioImaging application process and specified by the user, Enzo Terreno and his team execute it. Typical interaction with the user is via a video conference or email. The checkpoints are at regular intervals corresponding to strategic moments of the study. Over the course of the study, a multidisciplinary staff is mobilized, as many expertise and practical skills are required, from chemistry, to biology of cells and animal handling, to surgery, mastery of multiple imaging technologies - and data processing and analysis. Sometimes project plans are updated as the study unfolds. For example, the M&PIC team would consult the user in case of unpredictable events during the ongoing study, thus requiring possible deviations from the agreed protocol. Communication with the user is fluid, and the M&PIC staff’s is always involved. The project is finalized when the final report is delivered to the user at the end of the study.

Project checkpoints

Figure 1: Regular contacts with users are planned prior to the beginning of the project

Imaging and Data analysis 

Data analysis is one step in a project where users may want to be more involved. In this case, the M&PIC can provide remote access to their machines. But so far, users have shown little interest in accessing imaging equipment remotely, as the typical user is not an expert in this domain.  

The Molecular & Preclinical Imaging Center in Torino has been open and operating since May 4th and welcomes external user projects via the Euro-BioImaging web portal.  

About Euro-BioImaging
Euro-BioImaging provides open user access to a broad range of state-of-the-art technologies in biological and  biomedical imaging for life scientists in Europe and beyond. 

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