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The University of Southampton

Clinical Research Imaging: state-of-the-art imaging resources for clinical research

Southampton is a thriving specialist centre with an extensive imaging infrastructure that is well equipped to support the research demands of a large university hospital.

Significant investment in research imaging, recent upgrades in imaging equipment and capacity, and optimization of research imaging management, means that imaging researchers are suitably placed to carry out the best cutting-edge research. A major strength of Southampton is that the research imaging facilities, including research MR scanners, are situated on the hospital site, in close proximity to wards and outpatient clinics.

The University of Southampton works collaboratively with the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust in research imaging.

Magnetic resonance imaging and CT

University of Southampton principal investigators have access to any of these clinical scanners at the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust for research: 4 high-resolution multi-detector Computed Tomography (CT) scanners (all 128-slice dual-energy systems) and 6 Magnetic Resonance (MR) scanners (2 x 3 Tesla and 4 x 1.5 Tesla). The University forward pays for 25% of imaging time on the most advanced MR scanner of these (Skyra 3 Tesla, from Siemens) to ring-fence research imaging time – this guarantees that MR scanning availability is always immediately present, especially for research studies recruiting acute patients.


SPECT-CT combines single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) gamma cameras and CT into one imaging system. Two such systems are available, capable of both diagnostic and molecular radiotherapy work, and dynamic and cardiac gated acquisitions, including first-pass imaging. Absolute activity quantification of uptake and full diagnostic quality CT are available on both systems. The SPECT-CT systems are supported by a state-of-the-art radiopharmacy production unit at University Hospital Southampton, which holds manufacturer’s authorisation for investigational medicinal products for human use (MIA-IMP).

The PET-CT service is provided by a fixed-site PET-CT unit on-site, with access to a GE Discovery MI DR PET-CT scanner with time-of-flight imaging capabilities and an automated radiopharmaceutical dispensing system. The unit is operated by Alliance Medical and supported by UHS radiologists and medical physicists, who work with Alliance in curating a research programme spanning oncology and neurology.

Other types of imaging

  • Ultrasound – with ultra high resolution high frequency, compound imaging capability, Doppler enabled scanners with a full array of transducers.
  • Plain radiography and fluoroscopy.


A dedicated Research Imaging Management Group, consisting of representation from both the University of Southampton and the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, looks after the needs of imaging investigators in Southampton. This Committee has two Chairs, one from each institution. It meets bimonthly.

University of Southampton imaging researchers receive regular email updates regarding research imaging management developments in Southampton. If you would like to be added to this mailing list, please make an enquiry.


Several image processing workstations are available for researchers to use, which allow usage across different groups, using booking systems. If you would like to access these facilities, please make an enquiry. The University of Southampton has one of the largest computational facilities in the UK and hosts one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers to facilitate the computational demands of imaging projects.

Imaging researchers can apply to have their MR images pushed from the scanner to two servers hosting XNAT (Extensible Neuroimaging Archive Toolkit). This imaging informatics platform provides an archiving facility tailored to imaging data, and the means to anonymize, organize and share imaging data with collaborators worldwide, in a secure way, using a trusted system with in-built quality control features. For more information about XNAT please make an enquiry.

Research MRI sequences

The University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust has a risk assessment process in place to enable principal investigators to use research MRI sequences not in routine clinical use, including WiP (Work in Progress) and C2Ps (Core Competence Partnership) sequences. If you would like to use a WiP or C2P sequence, please make an enquiry.

MR imaging pump-priming research project award scheme

MR imaging pump-priming research project award scheme is run by the Research Management Committee. The aim of this internal scheme is to support principal investigators develop and test novel research imaging ideas, leading to competitive external funding applications. The scheme is not intended for small stand-alone projects without a clear plan leading to larger more definitive studies.

Awards will consist of up to 24 MR imaging slots, of one hour each, on the 3T Skyra MR scanner. Strategic priorities for the scheme include: Neuroscience, Oncology, Musculoskeletal Science, Psychology & Mental Health, Paediatrics, Health Sciences, Cardiology, Nutrition and Respiratory Medicine. Collaborations between disparate disciplines across campus, and between the University of Southampton and University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, are encouraged.

Home-grown imaging expertise

We have developed a number of imaging / image-processing solutions in Southampton, for instance three-dimensional dynamic contrast enhanced MR imaging of the brain to assess blood-brain barrier integrity, non-invasive intracranial pressure monitoring and multimodal respiratory imaging to follow drug delivery to the lung, as imaging research examples which require integration of existing and novel methods to address important clinical research questions.

Please make an enquiry if you have an imaging need that is not routinely available in clinical practice, and you will be put in touch with the appropriate expertise in the University or Trust.


If you have any questions, please email

Before planning, raising funds for, executing or publishing imaging research, please consult and/or follow the documentation and/or processes set down below, which are specific for imaging research. The list below does not include other processes such as ethical approval, which apply generically for any research project.

Research imaging process

There is a streamlined process for investigators to follow when planning, raising funds for, and executing an imaging research project.

Costing MR imaging on grant applications

University of Southampton Principal Investigators (whose contract is with the University of Southampton), should apply for their research MR imaging costs from the University of Southampton Finance Hub (i.e. the University of Southampton is the supplier of their imaging), even though they may hold an honorary contract with the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.

This also applies to investigator-led multi-centre studies, where the Hospital is a participating site, if the Principal Investigator at the Southampton site has their contract with the University of Southampton. The only exception is contract commercial research, where the contract is with the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust – in this situation, the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust is the research MR imaging supplier.

Research Imaging Management Form

Please complete this form as early as possible in the research planning phase. It is designed to inform the appropriate Medical Physics lead and the Research Imaging Management Group of the project, and trigger discussions on feasibility and technical aspects. Once these discussions are complete, the Research Imaging Management Group will approve the project.

UHS Research and Development assessment

Please inform University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust Research & Development, who will support you while setting up your study at Southampton General Hospital.

Joint University of Southampton and University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust policy for imaging research in Southampton

This Joint Policy applies to any academic activity, which involves imaging or imaging results, whether it is research, case report, case series, audit, service evaluation or other description not specifically mentioned here.

Incidental findings

University of Southampton researchers without honorary or substantive contracts with a local or regional NHS Trust are strongly encouraged to team up with a clinical academic with imaging experience, during the research design stage, to help devise a plan for managing incidental findings. For additional information please make an enquiry.

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