Program Organization

Information for Researchers Using the Imaging Research Center MRI systems

Technical Support Group Members: Jerry Sonico, Scott Martin, Dennis Thompson, Mike Buonocore


Hours for support

The Technical Support Group will provide emergency technical support for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) systems and other equipment used in conjunction with MRI studies from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM.

Normal working hours of group members

emergency help.

What equipment is supported?

The equipment supported by the group is itemized and described in the “Equipment Backup and Replacement” document inside this binder. Generally, MRI systems and accessories will be covered by Jerry Sonico. IRC computers including the computers in the Computer Lab, and the computers used for stimulus presentation, will be covered by Scott Martin. The Biopac system, EyeTracker and components of the Mock system will be covered by Dennis Thompson. Dennis will also cover the Maglink EEG system. Although each group member will have primary responsibility for particular equipment items, all group members will be able to provide basic recovery operations on any of the supported equipment. Investigators and group members will have access to the “Emergency recovery instructions” 3-ring binder that is provided in this Program.

Documentation for equipment recovery

Each equipment item that is supported by the goup is included in the “Technical Support for MRI Systems and Other Equipment” 3-ring binder (referred to as the “3-ring binder”). These instructions have been written by the Technical Support Group members.

First, the documentation provides instructions for bringing the equipment up from the off state. This often will suffice as “equipment recovery” because in the worse case scenario the researcher can simply turn off the equipment and bring it back up. Second, the document includes instructions for recovery of the equipment from various known specific unresponsive states that occur relatively frequently. The documentation includes the accumulated experience of the support group members

Calendar: How availability of group members will be communicated to researchers

The two one-month white boards constitute the “Technical Support Calendar” is set up along the north hallway wall shared with the 3T MRI suite. The Calendar shows the following information:

In the “Notes” section, the regularly hourly schedules of Jerry Sonico, Scott Martin, and Dennis Thompson are listed. When emergency service is needed, Jerry, Scott, and Dennis should be contacted first, and if no one is available, Dr. Buonocore should be called at the cell phone number. Dr. Buonocore will be available for calls after 10 AM every day, and earlier on many days. On his teaching days on campus (generally TTh Fall quarter), calls will be returned after 1 PM. The researcher will usually be able to find M Buonocore in his office, Rm 1320, Imaging Research Center.

At any given time during scheduled hours, at least one of the members, Jerry, Scott or Dennis, will be present at the IRC for emergency response. The Calendar will show times when any member is NOT available, during regular business hours. Individual members are responsible for writing these times on the Calendar. Generally, if a group member will be out of the office for 30 minutes, then he will indicate that absence on the calendar. Calendar adjustments that lead to all three of these group members being absent from the IRC is not permitted.

If there is no group member available (including Mike Buonocore via cell phone), then the researcher may use the Technical Support phone number to Siemens Medical Solutions. This service is paid for by the IRC, and is available 24-7. The phone number and Functional location number are listed in the main power box in the Operator Control Room, located on the north wall above the Operator Control Computers. This wall is the south wall of the 3T magnet room. The phone number for Siemens Technical Support is 1-800-888-7436. The Functional Location Number for the IRC Trio System is 153521.

Use of the Calendar

The researchers should refer to the Technical Support Calendar whenever there is a problem with the MRI system or other IRC equipment that they are unable to solve on their own. The Calendar will enable researchers to quickly identify which group member is in the IRC to help deal with the problem. Researchers should use their prior training to work through the equipment recovery by themselves. The 3-ring binder is located next to the Calendars and should be used by all researchers. The Technical Support Group developed this binder to assist researchers to solve problems by themselves.

No Web-­based Calendar

There is no-web based Technical Support Calendar. Because this Calendar is intended to be used for emergency recovery only, a web-based calendar was not favored over the use of a physical white- board calendar at the IRC site.

Group Member Knowledge

All group members have reviewed the equipment recovery procedures for each piece of supported equipment. Consequently, substantial preparation is expected by each group member in preparation to provide this support, since each member will be expected to recover any supported equipment item. For example, Scott will devote some time to learning recovery of the MRI system hardware and other accessory hardware, to be able to provide meaningful help to investigators. Group Members will in fact also rely on the equipment recovery instructions in the 3-ring binder.

Training of users on equipment recovery

The MRI Operation Training Program for researchers, which Jerry Sonico took responsibility for on Feb 4, 2008, will include some instruction on emergency recovery of equipment that the trainee will use in their MRI research project. Consequently, after training the users of the equipment will have some experience in referencing the 3-ring binder and with equipment recovery in general.

Backup Equipment

A complete list of supported accessory equipment for imaging research is provided in the “Equipment Backup and Replacement” document, within this 3-ring binder. The Group has identified those equipment items that require duplicate hardware and or software for rapid recovery. For example, it is very well appreciated now that the pulse oximeter used in macaque studies should have a backup. The critical presentation computers for fMRI, which are Dell systems, are not particularly reliable. Therefore, backup Dell computers have been configured with identical hardware and software as the critical computer, and are ready to use as a backup computer in case of failure of the critical computer.


The technical support service will not be available during the official holidays of the University of California.

All other weekdays will be days in which support is available. The calendar will show these days as having full support from the group members. A group member with particular days off will indicate that on the Technical Support Calendar. Generally, no more than two members among members Jerry, Scott and Dennis will take the same vacation day. Consequently, when a calendar day shows two of these group members taking vacation, the third group member will be present at the IRC to provide emergency technical support.

On major holidays, all three group members may be on vacation one day immediately before, and the one immediately after the holiday. Generally, Mike Buonocore will be able to be present for at least part of these two days before and after the holiday. The Technical Support Group reserves the right to suspend service on days when all three team members are not available, and also when Mike Buonocore cannot be available.

Response to cell phone calls

For emergency technical support, researchers should call Mike Buonocore (or check for his availability in his office) after it has been determined that all of the other group members listed on the Technical Support Calendar as not available. Dr. Buonocore will handle cell phone calls as follows: If Dr. Buonocore is at the Imaging Research Center or nearby without prior commitment, he will go to the location of the problem and address the problem on his own. Otherwise, after hearing a description of the problem, Dr. Buonocore will walk the researcher through the steps to recover equipment function. This may require that the researcher obtain a copy of the equipment recovery document, which shall be readily accessible to the researchers nearby the Calendars. If walking through the steps of recovery does not produce a recovery, Dr. Buonocore will make phone calls necessary to initiate correction of the problem by appropriate personnel, such as a call to the Siemens Service Engineer through the Siemens Tech Support phone number. Dr. Buonocore will not be expected to break his previously commitments to solve the problem. Dr. Buonocore may provide the researchers will explicit instructions to correct the problem on their own. The possibility exists that the equipment cannot be immediately restored and the research study must be cancelled. Study cancellation might occur if for example the equipment has entered a state that is not familiar to Dr. Buonocore and not mentioned in the emergency recovery document. Cancellation might occur if the equipment no longer functions and there is no backup equipment.

Other comments

Group members deal with emergencies of the PCs in use at the IRC, including those in the Image Processing Laboratory. Because some of these PCs are password protected by Scott Martin, only group member Scott Martin and or Dennis Thompson may have access to these computers. The 3-ring binder identifies those computer systems for which failures will be handled exclusively by Scott Martin and or Dennis Thompson.