Frequently Asked Questions

The following addresses topics that may come to mind as you consider participating in a research study. Please contact the Study Coordinator for study-specific questions.


Study Visit

Who gets to be in a study?

Each research study is different, and is designed to find answers to a specific question. Researchers must follow strict rules to decide who may take part in research (also known as inclusion/exclusion criteria). Not everyone with the disease or condition being studied can take part in a research study. Each potential candidate is screened for eligibility, and only those who meet all criteria as specified in the research protocol are eligible to participate.

What are the benefits of participating in research?

In general, there are no direct benefits to you. The information we gain from the scans will hopefully lead to improved disease diagnostic and monitoring methods which may benefit you, your loved ones, and the community as a whole in the future.

What are my rights as a research participant?

You have the right to not take part in a research study. You have the right to drop out at anytime. You have the right to be given new information about the study. You have the right to ask questions at any time and have them answered as soon as possible.

What are my responsibilities as a research participant?

You have the responsibility to ask questions about anything you do not understand or simply want to know. As a research participant, unless you formally withdraw from the study, you are responsible for completing all research procedures to the best of your ability. If you are in a study with follow-up activities, it is your responsibility to notify study staff of all changes to your contact information.

How are research subjects protected?

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) at Cedars-Sinai protects people involved in research studies. The IRB includes scientists, non-scientists, and community members, and reviews, approves, and monitors all research at Cedars-Sinai in which human subjects take part. This oversight keeps risks to research participants as low as possible. The IRB also keeps track of ongoing studies to make sure they are being done in the right way. The IRB requires that all researchers treat research participants with respect. The IRB protects your rights and welfare if you take part in a research study. If you have a concern, complaint or compliment about research, please contact the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center IRB. The IRB takes all complaints very seriously. The IRB investigates all complaints and concerns. You may contact the IRB at any time by calling (310) 423-3783.

Who will have access to my information?

At Cedars-Sinai, only IRB-certified research staff with protocol-specific approval may access the data collected for research purposes. If any of your information is sent to an outside study sponsor (as specified in the Informed Consent Form and HIPAA consent), we will first remove your identifiable. Research files are confidential and secured by password-protection and/or locked in restricted areas.

Do research participants get paid?

Some studies compensate participants for the time they spent participating in a trial; generally this amount is given to cover expenses for parking, transportation, and meals; however, payment may not be substantial enough to constitute inducement to participate for monetary gain. Study-specific payment information can be found in the study's Informed Consent Form.

Can I get the results for a study I volunteered for?

Results from the research study are usually not immediately available because it takes time to collect and analyze the data and communicate results to the medical and scientific community. Findings published in peer-reviewed medical journals can be found at PubMed, a biomedical literature search engine run by the US National Institutes of Health (

Who can I contact if I have questions?

Most questions can be answered by our Study Coordinator, David Buennagel at (310) 423-0075 or or our Research Nurse, Kim Okamoto RN at (310) 423-0732 or If you have a particular concern that you would like to share with our Operations Manager, please contact Johanna Kim at (310) 248-8680.

What is MRI?

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. The MRI scan is commonly used in standard medical practice and is considered to be one of safest and least invasive scanning methods. Unlike X-rays and CT scans, there is NO radiation involved in MRI scans. Instead, the scanner utilizes magnets to create images of structures inside the body such as bones, organs, and blood vessels.

What is it like undergoing an MRI?

When you are inside the MRI scanner the technologist may take you through some breathing exercises and other times you can just lie back and relax. The scanner can be noisy at times so we will provide earplugs and headphones so you can listen to your choice of music. During your scan, you will be able to communicate to the MRI technologist through a microphone located inside the room, and you will also be holding an “emergency ball” which you can squeeze at any time to notify the technologist that you need assistance. The most common discomfort comes from lying flat on a table inside the scanner.  The machine itself is shaped like a tunnel that is open at each end.  When someone is scanned, they lay flat on a table with part of their body positioned inside the tube.  While our scanner is one of the larger machines available, it can still feel somewhat cramped so if you have a history of feeling claustrophobic, this may not be the study for you.  

Are there risks of having an MRI?

MRI is considered to be one of safest and least invasive scanning methods. If you pass the MRI safety screening, the general risks of having an MRI are very small. If you are undergoing a contrast-enhanced MRI, there are possible side effects of gadolinium contrast, however the risk is minimal in patients without severe kidney disease or who have not had a liver transplant. If your scan involves a contrast injection a Registered Nurse or MRI technologist will always be present and a physician will be on call, all of whom are trained to handle any emergency situations in the extremely rare case of a reaction to the contrast.  The informed consent form also describes the risks of each procedure.

How do I prepare for my study visit?

In general there is very little prep involved for your visit. If your study involves placing an IV (contrast and stress test studies), we encourage you to drink plenty of water before your visit to help make IV insertion as easy as possible.  If your visit involves a stress test, we also ask that you not consume any products containing caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, etc.) for at least 8 hours prior to your visit. The study coordinator will review any required prep instructions when they schedule you for an appointment.

Where do I park and check-in?

Complete directions and a map of the Cedars-Sinai campus can be found here. We recommend that you try to park in either P1 or P2, but you can park in any of the Cedars validated lots (P3, P4). If you valet park, only the parking fee (not the additional valet fee) will be covered by the research study. We encourage you to allow at least 15 minutes to find parking and walk to the plaza level lobby piano, where one of our research staff will meet you. Yes, we have a piano and if you come at the right time, you may even be treated to a mini-concert.

What can I expect during my study visit?

The procedures for each study may vary and are described in the research Informed Consent Form (ICF). In general, when you first arrive for a study, you will always be asked to review, ask any questions, and sign the ICF. Before undergoing the scan, you will be asked to complete an MRI safety questionnaire and change into a hospital gown. Your personal belongings will be locked in a cabinet. For contrast studies, an IV will be placed and if needed, we will run a blood test to make sure your kidneys are functioning properly. If you are having a stress test, we may also put in an additional IV for the stress agent injection. For studies that involve the administration of cardiac medications, we will also obtain an ECG (echocardiogram) prior to your scan and another one once the scan is complete. After your study procedures are finished, you will retrieve your belongings and be given a copy of your signed ICF, a parking pass, and a gift card (if applies, see ICF).

What if I need to cancel my visit?

If you need to cancel your appointment, please contact the Study Coordinator for that particular study as soon as possible. We completely understand that life happens and is often unpredictable. However there are many costly resources that are prepared for a study visit and multiple staff members that need to be notified if there are changes to the schedule. If you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment, we appreciate as much notice as possible.

What if I am running late?

If you are going to be late to your appointment, please contact the Study Coordinator as soon as possible. When an appointment is scheduled, the MRI machine is reserved for a specific amount of time. If you are late for your appointment, the researchers may not be able to collect all of the necessary data and we may even need to reschedule your appointment.  We encourage volunteers to allow enough time for the infamous LA traffic and to find parking.