UT Southwestern Small Animal Imaging Resource (UT-SAIR) seeks to promote and facilitate small animal imaging related to models of human disease. UT-SAIR has three primary functions:
- Provide state of the art small animal imaging equipment and infrastructure to support research, including consultation services as needed for the planning, performance, and analysis of studies
- Focus on enabling multimodality imaging methods
- Develop and implement new methods pushing the frontiers of small animal imaging in terms of spatial and temporal resolution and sensitivity.
The Resource provides small animal imaging using multiple modalities that currently include MRI, radionuclide imaging (PET/CT, SPECT/CT, and planar scintigraphy), optical imaging (depth resolved or planar fluorescence bioluminescence and chemiluminescence), ultrasound and, most recently, multispectral optoacoustic tomography. There is infrastructure for animal handling (e.g., anesthesia, infusion, monitoring vital signs). UT-SAIR can facilitate and undertake developmental studies for implementation of new imaging protocols and evaluation of methods.
The Resource has a radiochemistry laboratory, and molecular synthesis laboratories that can develop new reporter molecules, radiolabelled probes, and perform cell transfection. UT-SAIR also has computer capabilities for data analysis and image archiving.
UT-SAIR provides consultation services for the individual modalities listed above as well as multimodality studies. Core leaders can advise investigators on:
- Experimental planning (optimal experimental approaches, image manipulation, and statistical analysis, coordinating with the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and Safety and Business Continuity)
- Implementing investigations (access to instruments and scheduling experiments)
- Data analysis and validation and data archiving
The staff can assist with proof in principle investigations, choice of reporter molecules and/or genes, radiolabeling procedures, and synthesis of ligands. Once experimental protocols have been established, routine investigations can be performed on a cost recovery basis by dedicated, skilled technicians.