The BIRC has a four-level administrative structure.

Level 1 – Scientific Review Committee

The Scientific Review Committee (SRC) is a working group of UGA scientists, BIRC users, and methodology/statistical experts. They meet in-person monthly and as needed via video conference to evaluate all study protocols submitted to the BIRC through the application form available under the Contacts menu on the BIRC main page. The SRC functions like a Center for Scientific Review Study Section. The appropriate SRC Chair (Human or Animal project) reads each submission then selects a group of three SRC members to be primary reviewers. Those reviewers read and rate the application on a 1 (best) – 9 (worst) scale on Significance, Investigator team, Innovation, Approach, and Overall Quality. SRC members primarily evaluate the science, raise human/animal welfare concerns when appropriate, and comment on the appropriateness of the proposed budget given the study aims and duration. The SRC ensures that projects are feasible with the BIRC instrumentation and staff, well planned, and have the likelihood of success. The project reviewers then present their evaluations to the whole SRC, which either concurs with reviewer ratings or suggests rating modifications. Every rating must be no worse than 5 to receive BIRC support. Final ratings are determined, and a brief report is prepared by the SRC Chair and sent to the submitting investigator and the BIRC Director. If any rating is worse than 5, the investigator is advised by the SRC Chair how to modify their application for a subsequent submission. Final SRC approval decisions are forwarded to the BIRC Director Level (Director, Associate Directors of Animal and Human Imaging, the managing MR technologist, and the Office of Research Budget Representative). They provide final approval for the project, including determining the need for BIRC staff assistance with successfully completing the project and pilot hours provided.

There are three types of applications:

  1. Investigator-initiated funded projects – The applications cover projects for which investigators have individual funding (external or internal awards, start-up funds). For awards, the investigator must submit a copy of the award along with the BIRC SRC application. For start-up funds, details regarding their availability, amount, and time frame must be submitted along with the BIRC SRC application.
  2. Faculty-initiated pilot projects – These applications are for collecting pilot and/or feasibility data for grant submissions. They can be used to develop research methodology and/or a new research technology. The main feature of these projects is the provision of limited funding for a brief period. It is expected that data collection will be completed within 6 months of study initiation, analyses will be completed within 9 months, and a one-page report will be submitted to the SRC and BIRC Director within 12 months. All pilot project money must be spent within one calendar year of project approval. Before an investigator is eligible for a subsequent pilot award a grant must be submitted and/or a paper must be published in a scholarly journal using data collected via the BIRC pilot award.
  3. Student-initiated thesis support applications – These applications are to support graduate student research projects (e.g., thesis, dissertation). As such, they are expected to have a completely developed research plan. There must be a specified faculty advisor although it must be specified that BIRC funding is to support student research and that the student will be the first author on any papers submitted to a scholarly journal. It is expected that data collection will be completed within 12 months, analyses will be completed within 18 months, and thesis defense and paper submission to a scholarly journal will be accomplished within 24 months.

Level 2 – BIRC Director Level

The Director Level is composed of the Director (currently Dr. Brett Clementz) and Associate Directors for Animal (currently Dr. Arthur Edison) and Human (currently Dr. Kevin McCully) Imaging. The Managing MR Technologist (currently Ms. Kim Mason) and a business and financial representative from the OR (currently Mr. Kevin Burt) participate in Director Level meetings in an advisory capacity. The Director Level makes final funding decisions, manages the BIRC budget, devises strategic initiatives, and manages the day-to-day operations of the BIRC.

Level 3 – Strategic Advisory Council

The Strategic Advisory Council (SAC) meets at least annually and when needed for important decision-making purposes with the BIRC Director Level and BIRC technical staff. The SAC advises the BIRC Director and Associate Directors of Animal and Human Imaging. In support of the Office of Research, the Council provides secondary oversight of the BIRC, so it formulates rules and regulations, oversees safety management including required safety training, sets long-range sustainability plans, adjudicates disputes in conjunction with the Director Level (or in lieu of the Director Level if there is a conflict of interest) and contributes to annual reports on technology usage. They are also called upon to resolve conflicts within the BIRC when needed. SAC is responsible for reporting on general operations issues directly to the OR. The OR then makes final decisions regarding BIRC operations.
Council membership is divided between users of the facility and prominent scientist non-users from the local academic environment. The Council is structured to provide broad representation and expertise to ensure representation of diverse needs within the general imaging community. Included are: human and animal researchers, and representatives from neuroscience, psychology, computer science, quantitative methods, and medicine. SAC meetings inspire and foster a translational research environment.

Level 4 – Office of Research

BIRC is an Office of Research (OR) core research facility, so the top level of the structure is the OR under the leadership of David C. Lee, Ph.D., Vice President for Research (VPR) at UGA. OR provides primary oversight of the BIRC, including making final decisions about administration, funding, hiring, and equipment upgrades.