UTSW Small Animal Imaging Resource

Overview of Services

UT Southwestern Small Animal Imaging Resource

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 offers small animal imaging using multiple modalities that currently include optical (depth resolved or planar fluorescence (FLI), bioluminescence (BLI) and chemiluminescence (CLI)), ultrasound and most recently multispectral optoacoustic tomography (MSOT). The Resource can also facilitate MRI, radionuclide imaging (PET/CT, SPECT/CT, and planar scintigraphy) and image–guided irradiation. 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. Radiochemistry, molecular synthesis and molecular biology laboratories can develop new reporter molecules, radiolabeled 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.

Small Animal MRI Core

The animal imaging facility offers state-of-the-art magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and spectroscopy (MRS) of rats, mice, and other smaller animals to all campus investigators. Animals can be delivered to the mouse core facility in the Bill and Rita Clements Advanced Medical Imaging Building (NE) on the North Campus, imaged under anesthesia, and returned to the investigator the same day. The system has the capabilities of anatomical and functional neuro, cardiac, musculoskeletal and abdominal (liver, kidney, uterus, etc.) imaging in vivo and ex-vivo. The facility includes a 7 and a 9.4 Tesla horizontal-bore magnet and various physiology monitoring systems including ECG, respiratory gating, and temperature monitoring and control throughout the imaging experiment. The facility also provides guidance for post-processing of image data and experimental planning for longitudinal studies.
MR Imaging Methods
T1, T2, Proton-Weighted Imaging, Gd-T1 weighted imaging
Dynamic Contrast Enhanced MRI
Diffusion-Weighted Imaging (DWI)/Diffusion-Tensor Imaging (DTI)
MR Spectroscopy
Applications for which we can provide expertise include, but are not limited to:

  • Anatomical MR Imaging
  • Normal development and aging
  • Detection/Monitoring of lesions (tumor, ischemia, etc.)
  • Body fat distribution
  • Phenotyping
  • Functional MR Imaging
  • Perfusion (angiogenesis, etc.)
  • Cardiac motion/Ejection fraction
  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA)
  • Tissue Metabolism
  • Fat metabolites
  • Characterization of tumors
  • Planning Your Study

Please contact us to briefly introduce your MRI-relevant research plans and goals. We will contact you to schedule a brief pre-project meeting to discuss your projects. If our Mouse MRI Core capabilities meet your expectations, we will: (1) ask you to send us a new project application form; and (2) instruct you how to amend your existing IACUC protocol if it did not include MR procedures.

Once you obtained IACUC approval, you can contact us to set up MRI scanning schedules. Please be aware a fact that you will be responsible for contacting the Animal Resource Center well ahead of time to arrange for transport of your animals to and from the appropriate animal holding areas.


Ralph P. Mason, Ph.D., CSci., CChem., FRSC | Small Animal Imaging Resource Director


Please note that the UT-SAIR is subsidized by the Cancer Center and it is important that any publications and presentations arising from imaging investigations credit the Resource. The following acknowledgement is suggested:

The authors would like to acknowledge the assistance of the Southwestern Small Animal Imaging Shared Resource, which is supported in part by the Harold C. Simmons Cancer Center through an NCI Cancer Center Support Grant, P30 CA142543.

 For specific instruments please also acknowledge the relevant instrumentation grants, e.g.,

Caliper Spectrum:  The Caliper IVIS Spectrum was purchased under NIH 1S10RR024757.

Spectral Instruments AMI-HTX: The AMI-HTX was purchased under CPRIT RP210099 as part of the North Texas Multimodal Small Animal Imaging Core Facility

CRi Maestro: the CRi Maestro was provided by the Joint Program in BME through a DOE grant #DE-FG02-05CH11280.

VisualSonics Vevo 770 was purchased with NIH ARRA stimulus funds 1S10RR02564801.

iThera MSOT was purchased under NIH 1 S10 OD018094-01A1.

SAI system. The physiological monitoring system was purchased under ARRA stimulus supplement to 1U24 CA126608 and CPRIT MIRA RP120670‐P3

Location and hours of operation

Hours  Location

Open: 24/7
Staffed: Monday to Friday: 9am-5pm 

 Rooms: NG2.302 & J2.200

Links and Resources

Small Animal Imaging Resource Links:

  1. Small Animal Imaging Resource Website
  2. Small Animal Imaging Resource - Equipment Information
  3. Small Animal Imaging Resource - Harold C Simmons Cancer Center

Small Animal MRI Links:

  1. Mouse MRI Core website
  2. Advanced Imaging Research Center website


Name Role Phone Email Location
Ralph Mason
Priya Periyanan
Instrument Technologist
Lorena Arango
Lab Manger Small Animal Imaging