Prof. Francis Shen and Prof. Susan Wolf Lead a National Working Group that Released Landmark Ethical Guidance for New Portable MRI Brain Research

MRI has transformed neuroscience research over the past 50 years, but research participants have had to travel to the scanner. With the advent of highly portable magnetic resonance imaging (pMRI), the scanner will now come to them. This portable technology will allow for more inclusive research with new communities and will enable researchers without access to conventional MRI to study the brain.

A new report, produced by a national working group with interdisciplinary expertise and published in the Journal of Law and the Biosciences, provides urgently needed guidance on ethical, legal, and policy concerns raised by the rapidly emerging use of pMRI for brain research.

Authors of the consensus publication, “Ethical, Legal, and Policy Challenges in Field-Based Neuroimaging Research Using Emerging Portable MRI Technologies: Guidance for Investigators and for Oversight,” developed 15 recommendations to address the ethical and legal challenges of research in partnership with communities that have not previously participated in brain research. Lead authors of the article are University of Minnesota Professors Francis Shen, JD, PhD, Susan Wolf, JD, and Frances Lawrenz, PhD.

“Highly portable MRI can transform neuroscience research and improve access for rural, economically disadvantaged, and historically underrepresented populations,” Shen said. “But this promise will not be realized if needed ethical and legal guardrails are missing.”

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Francis Shen

Francis Shen

Professor of Law
Solly Robbins Distinguished Research Fellow

Susan M. Wolf

Regents Professor and McKnight Presidential Professor of Law, Medicine & Public Policy
Faegre Drinker Professor of Law
Professor of Medicine