The University of Massachusetts Amherst
Human Magnetic Resonance Center

Human Magnetic Resonance Center


COVID-19 Status

Please check the Restart-to-Research Operational Status page for details.

Located on the 2nd floor in the Life Science Laboratories the Human Magnetic Resonance Center (hMRC) provides state-of-the-art, non-invasive neuroimaging, whole body imaging, and spectroscopy technologies for academic and industry-based research in central and western Massachusetts. This is the only research-dedicated 3T MRI/MRS system in western Massachusetts. This system is ideal for investigating questions regarding normal and abnormal changes in human brain and whole body structure and function across the lifespan.

The hMRC houses a 3 Tesla Siemens Skyra scanner for basic and translational research including:

Functional Neuroimaging: Noninvasive imaging that measures brain activity and function during resting state and task-based imaging (fMRI) by detecting dynamic physiological processes in real time associated with blood flow and the blood oxygen levels in response to neural activation and consumption, this is referred to as BOLD or Blood Oxygen Level Dependent Imaging. This is used to investigate neurotypical brain connectivity and regional function across the lifespan and to understand brain dysfunction and neuroplasticity. 

Spectroscopy: Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) is a noninvasive data collection technique that is ideal for measuring biochemical content and metabolism of tissues in the body. This method allows us to gather metabolic information, which is unique and independent, but complementary to the anatomic information obtained with other magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques in various pathology. MRS is able to display data in various ways, including chemical composition and measurement of the spatial distribution of metabolite concentrations.

Structural brain imaging: Static imaging of the white and gray matter and CSF of the brain, as well as bone and tissue, are used to examine typical structural morphology and connectivity, as well as atypical structure, neuroplasticity, and neurodegeneration.

Musculoskeletal & Whole Body MRI: Demonstrates various aspects of muscle, organ, bone, joint, soft tissue and nerve structure and function. High resolution images can be generated in which the following details can be demonstrated: fat, muscle, tendons, ligaments, and fluid as well as vasculature and nerve systems. These can be used to quantify various data such as fat quantification, edema, pathology and structural damage or degeneration.


Siemens 3T Skyra Scanner

Siemens 3T (123 MHz) Skyra is a 70-cm bore MRI/MRS scanner for acquisition of BOLD, Diffusion, and MR spectroscopy data. The scanner uses state-of-the-art technology for fast and efficient collection of:

  • structural neuroimaging (white and gray matter and CSF morphology and diffusion tractography),
  • functional neuroimaging (resting state and task-based fMRI),
  • multi-nuclear spectroscopy (1H, 31P and 13C)
  • MR elastography
  • structural imaging of bone and tissue,

The Skyra provides a wide bore and short length, making it ideal for scanning certain populations, e.g., children and obese persons, who may otherwise feel claustrophobic in a typical 60mm bore.

Additional Equipment

  • The hMRC is equipped with 3 head coils (20, 32, and 64 channel), and a full array of body, foot/ankle, knee, and breast coils, and a docking exam table.
  • A variety of MR compatible peripheral equipment is available, such as a 32” high resolution BOLD screen, a 128-channel EEG system, an eyetracking system, an active noise canceling microphone/headphone system, a system for MR elastography, an ergometer, and an array of button box, grip force, and joystick devices for acquiring experimental responses.
  • The hMRC has a complete mock scanner system, including participant interfaces, and is particularly well suited for training participants to stay still in the scanner.
  • Double tuned 1H-31P and 1H-13C surface and volume coils.

Ancillary Equipment

  Campus Users External Users
Half Hour $275 $550
Rates are subject to change, contact facility to verify current fees.

FY23 Specialized Service Center Approved Fees



As a core facility, the Human Magnetic Resonance Center is a resource for basic and translational MRI and MRS research both from investigators on-campus and off.

Functional Neuroimaging
UMass Amherst neuroscientists use state-of-the-art structural and functional brain imaging techniques. Functional MRI (fMRI) is used to determine areas of the brain that contribute to performance of specific tasks. High-resolution structural images can be useful for identifying changes in the brain such as those associated with development, aging, or disease.

Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) is used to measure the molecular composition of a tissue or muscle.

Structural imaging
In addition to structural brain imaging, static imaging of bone and tissue is used to identify skeletal, muscular, or differences across populations or individuals.

Staff physicists are available to assist new users with protocol development, implementation, and analysis. Services include:

  • Consultation and development of MRI and MRS protocols
  • Consultation and development of MR-compatible stimuli and participant interface
  • Analysis of pilot data and training and assistance with subsequent studies
  • Assistance with MR aspects of grant proposals.

We provide four different levels of scan services to accommodate your studies:

  • Feasibility scan: To evaluate your study using our facility and protocols, we may provide you courtesy scans once your feasibility scan request is approved by our co-directors. It is not mandatory to have an approved IRB protocol, but it is recommended to have an IRB protocol for human subject scans.
  • Pilot scan: To collect preliminary data for an extramural grant, you may also apply for pilot funding to acquire pilot data at a reduced scan fee. You need to have an approved IRB protocol to acquire pilot data.
  • Regular scan: You will be asked to pay for the full scan fee ($550/hr) and to provide an approved IRB protocol.
  • Other scans: We also provide courtesy scans for student training and education, development and testing of equipment and scan protocols, and other public needs. These scans will be required to be approved by our co-directors.

Please apply to scanning of all types using the Study Application.

Human MR Center (hMRC): This core facility provides state-of-the-art non-invasive human neuroimaging, whole body imaging, MR spectroscopy, and elastography. A Siemens 3T Skyra MRI/MRS scanner runs on a VE11C platform, with access to latest source codes, licenses, and works-in-progress for acquiring BOLD, diffusion, and spectroscopy, including simultaneous multi-slice imaging. The hMRC is equipped with three head coils (20-, 32- and 64-channel) and a full array of body, foot/ankle, knee, and breast coils, as well as double tuned 1H, 31P and 13C surface coils for multi-nuclear spectroscopy. MR-compatible peripheral equipment includes: 32” high resolution CRS BOLD screen, various button response units by Current Design, 128-channel Brain Vision EEG system, SR Research EyeLink 1000 Plus eye tracking system, Optoactive noise cancelling headphone/microphone, and an in-house engineered ergometer. In addition, the hMRC includes a mock scanner complete with participant interfaces for training subjects.

FY23 Specialized Service Center Approved Fees

Updated April 2022

  • The scanner schedule is managed by hMRC staff, please email Elena Bliss for access. Access is granted upon successful completion of MR Safety Training.
  • Review the “3T Scheduling Procedure” document before booking any scans. This details the scheduling policies and procedures as well as billing information.
  • A minimum of 30 minutes can be booked with additional 15 minute increments after that.
  • Billing is charged in 15 minute increments after the first 30 minutes.

Rajakumar Nagarajan, PhD
Rajakumar Nagarajan is the MR Physicist working at Human Magnetic Resonance Center (hMRC), UMass, Amherst. He has strong MR Physics background and expertise in MR spectroscopy, including multinuclear spectroscopy, time series analysis, and spectroscopic or chemical shift imaging. He provides technical assistance with magnetic resonance (MR) protocol development and evaluation, data collection, advanced processing of data, and oversight of MR technician. Rajakumar trains and support faculty or trainees about MR safety, data acquisition and post-processing. He provides timely support to investigators for grant funding and also monitors new developments and improvements in technology to keep core competitive and state-of-the-art.  Relevant publications:  PubMed | Google Scholar

Elena Bliss
Elena Bliss is the MR technologist for hMRC. She has been working in the field of medical imaging for over 5 years and has a background in Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Radiologic Technology.

hMRC Pilot Grant Program-Round 2 (PGP) is designed to assist faculty who utilize MR methods in their research to obtain sponsored funding, while supporting the long-term success of the hMRC.

hMRC is dedicated to research of human MR imaging and spectroscopy. We do not provide any clinical diagnosis.

If you have any questions, please contact our staff or send an email to

Scan Preparation

The MRI scan uses a strong magnetic field but it does not use ionizing radiation like in computer tomography or positron emission tomography. Therefore, MRI is non-invasive, but you will need to follow a few safety precautions and complete a screening form prior to scanning:

  • Wear comfortable clothing, preferably made of cotton and loose fitting.
  • If you tend to get cold, bring a cotton sweatshirt with no hood or zipper.
  • Remove any metal items from you pockets (e.g., pens, keys, loose change, etc.) and from your body (e.g., watches, jewelry, body piercings, etc.).
  • For women it is recommended to wear a sports bra (i.e., no metallic clasp).
  • If you wear eyeglasses, and you will be a participant in fMRI research involving visual stimuli, bring your eyeglasses prescription data.

You can check whether you would qualify for an MRI scan by reviewing the hMRC Safety Questionnaire. If you have any questions regarding the form or scan, please contact your researcher or hMRC staff.

It will be helpful if you fill out the form and consult the researcher administering the experiment with any questions you may have–*prior to the day of the experiment*.

MR Safety Training is held once a month, as needed. All research personnel must be MR Safety trained prior to running studies in hMRC.

Please use the following IRB approved forms and templates when you submit your IRB protocol for all MRI/MRS human subjects studies:

  1. Fitzgerald LF, Bartlett MF, Nagarajan R, Francisco EJ, Iv FC, Kent JA. Effects of Old age and contraction mode on knee extensor muscle ATP flux and metabolic economy in vivo. J Physiol. 2021 Apr 19. doi: 10.1113/JP281117.  [  Link: ]
  2. Nagarajan R, Shinde A, Gunduz ME, Schlaug G. Polarity Dependent Modulation of the Motor Region Using tDCS: A Proton MR Spectroscopy Study. Abstract accepted at the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, Abstract, 2234, 2021. (Online)  [  Link: ]
  3. Nagarajan R, Layec G. Feasibility Study of 31P Multivoxel Spectroscopy for the detection of Alkaline Inorganic Phosphate in multiple compartments of the lower leg at 3T. Abstract accepted at the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, Abstract, 3179, 2021. (Online)  [  Link: ]
  1. Fitzgerald LF, Martin A, Nagarajan R, Kent JA. Torque and Velocity Dependence of Muscle Fatigue in Aging. Innov Aging. 2020; 4(Suppl 1): 491–492. Link:
  2. Gordon JA. III, Remillard NM, Straight CR, Nagarajan R, Damon BM, Chipkin SR, Miller MS, Kent, JA. Age-Related Changes in Molecular and Whole Muscle Function: Role of Fat Content?. Innov Aging. 2020; 4(Suppl 1): 141. Link:
  3. Iqbal Z, Nagarajan R, Sarma M, et al. Evaluating Apparent T2* values of Metabolites in Healthy Adults and Youths using TIDEL-COSY. Abstract presented at the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, Abstract, 6738, 2020. Link:
  4. Fitzgerald LF, Bartlett MF, Martin AR, Francisco E, Sup F, Nagarajan R, Kent JA. Effects Of Old Age And Contraction Mode On Knee Extensor Muscle Metabolic Economy In Vivo. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 52 (7).
  5. Bartlett MF, Fitzgerald LF, Nagarajan R, Kent JA. Validity and accuracy of calculating oxidative ATP synthesis in vivo during high-intensity skeletal muscle contractions. NMR Biomed. 2020 Aug 16;e4381. Link: Link:
  6. Smithline H, Bartlett, Kent JA, Yadava N, Nagarajan R. Pilot Investigation of Effects of Nicotinamide Riboside Supplementation on Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide Concentration in Human Skeletal Muscle Using 31P MR Spectroscopy. Abstract presented at the Experimental NMR Conference (Baltimore, USA) Abstract, 192, 2020.
  7. Nagarajan R, Ramadan S, Decker S, Layec G. Optimization of Proton MRS of Deoxymyoglobin in Human Skeletal Muscle at 3T: a tool for measuring Intracellular O2 availability. Abstract presented at the Experimental NMR Conference (Baltimore, USA) Abstract, 267, 2020.
  8. Nagarajan R, Saucedo A, Sarma MK, Andrews P, Kent JA, Thomas MA. Detection of Residual Dipolar Coupling in Vastus Lateralis by Two-dimensional Localized Correlated Spectroscopy. Abstract presented at the Experimental NMR Conference (Baltimore, USA) Abstract, 201, 2020.
  9. Bartlett MF, Fitzgerald LF, Nagarajan R, Hiroi Y, Kent JA. Oxidative ATP Synthesis in Human Quadriceps Declines During 4 Minutes of Maximal Contractions. J Physiol. 2020 Feb 11. doi: 10.1113/JP279339.
  10. Iqbal Z, Nagarajan R, Saucedo A, Sarma MK, Thomas MA. Measuring T2 * values of Metabolites In Vivo utilizing T2 *- Weighted Deconvolution Localized Correlated Spectroscopy (TIDEL-COSY). Abstract presented at the Experimental NMR Conference (Baltimore, USA) Abstract, 80, 2020.
  1. Bartlett MF, Fitzgerald LF, Nagarajan R, Kent JA . Limitations to Oxidative ATP Synthesis During High-Intensity Contractions: A Hyperoxic Mitochondrial Uncoupling Hypothesis. Abstract presented at the ACSM Integrative Physiology of Exercise Conference ( San Diego, California, USA) Abstract 168, 2018.
  2. Fitzgerald LF, Bartlett MF, Nagarajan R, Kent JA. In Vivo Muscle Oxidative Capacity Differs with Contraction Mode and Energetic Demand. Abstract presented at the ACSM Integrative Physiology of Exercise Conference ( San Diego, California, USA) Abstract 237, 2018.
  3. Gordon III JA, Nagarajan R, Arieta LR, Bartlett MF, Fitzgerald LF, Damon BM, Kent JA. Variability of Fat Deposition in Human Quadriceps Muscle in Vivo. Abstract presented at the ACSM Integrative Physiology of Exercise Conference ( San Diego, California, USA) Abstract 273, 2018.
  4. Rajakumar Nagarajan, Miles Bartlett, Kwan-Jin Jung, Jane A. Kent, and Nagendra Yadava. Human Magnetic Resonance Center, Institute for Applied Life Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, United States; Department of Kinesiology, UMass, Amherst, MA, United States, Department of Biology, UMass, Amherst, MA; Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute (PVLSI), Springfield, MA; Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS)-Baystate Regional Campus, Springfield, MA. Non-invasive Detection of NADH+NAD+ in Human Muscle Using 31P MR Spectroscopy at 3T. Abstract presented at the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (Paris, France) Abstract 5129, 2018.
  5. Kwan-Jin Jung and Jacquie Kurland, Human Magnetic Resonance Center, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA, United States; Department of Communication Disorders, University of Massachusetts Amherst. Diaschisis of The Language Network in Resting State fMRI Functional Connectivity of Post-Stroke Chronic Aphasia. Abstract presented at the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (Paris, France), 2018.
  6. Kwan-Jin Jung and Hae-Min Jung, Human Magnetic Resonance Center, Institute of Applied Life Sciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA, Austen Riggs Center, Stockbridge, MA. A Weighted Square Averaging Method of Combining Primary and Temporal Derivative Parameter Estimates In General Linear Model Analysis of Functional MRI. Abstract presented at the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (Paris, France), 2018.
  7. Kwan-Jin Jung, Youssef Jaber, and Frank C Sup IV, Human Magnetic Resonance Center, Institute of Applied Life Sciences; Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Massachusetts Amherst. A Validation of MR Flow Velocity Mapping with Automated Phase Offset Correction Using a Gel Flow Phantom Controlled by a Motorized Piston in MR Phase Contrast Cine Flow Measurement. Abstract presented at the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (Paris, France) 2018.