April 19, 2020
I hope that you, your families and members of your research groups are healthy and safe. I want to thank all of you for your patience during this period while the MRRC remains closed to all non-critical studies.
We wanted to inform you regarding expectations for when the MRRC will reopen. That decision will be based on directives from the University, the Hospital, and our state and local governments to establish a safe working environment protecting study participants, staff, and faculty who are in “high risk” groups. We are not assuming that there will a blanket “return to work” order.
When the MRRC opens, operations and procedures will be enhanced to adhere to guidance from infectious disease experts. Because our work requires our staffs to work in close proximity to and interact with a large number of study participants, we need to be especially cautious in how we do our work to ensure the safety of our staff and subjects.
During this period all of us have fallen behind with subject recruitment and it is natural to be concerned as to how we can achieve our recruitment goals once we do reopen. The projected timeline for the Prisma 3 (the old OAI system) to come online is June but this estimate is tempered by the need to be sensitive to the COVID-19 situation here and in Germany (where the equipment is manufactured). When Prisma 3 comes online, our capacity for studies requiring a Prisma will be increased by 50%, which will allow all of us to make more rapid progress once non-critical research resumes.
Once we better understand the target date and conditions for reopening, we will engage all of you in establishing the schedule (including Prisma 3) to maximize access and productivity based on the conditions at that time while being sensitive to the varying needs and realities of different studies and participant groups. Thus, I thank you for your patience in advance; we all feel as strongly about the critical needs of our studies as you do about yours. So, this is a time when we all need to be flexible to allow for the optimization of the schedule to benefit all of the users.
We have closed access to the MRRC schedule in order to reduce confusion about availability of times in the first two weeks of May. Subsequent scheduling can be done with the knowledge that these will be tentative with the probability of having to be cancelled. Thus, investigators can still engage with planning with their participants in the eventuality that we reopen but letting them know that there is a possibility of cancellation.
All of us at the MRRC are very grateful to the imaging community for understanding all of the changes we have made and the difficulty in re-starting the research scanning program. Our goal is that once we start scanning it should take us 3-4 months to return to steady state – but that is a goal and not a data-driven promise.
We will continue to keep you informed as the situation continues to develop.