Help Researchers Find Out How COVID-19 Impacts Brain Health!


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How does COVID-19 affect the brain?

Researchers at the Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s & Neurodegenerative Diseases at UT Health San Antonio are looking for the answer and need your help.

Volunteer for the 7T MRI Study of How COVID-19 Affects the Brain!

Study volunteers will get an advanced state-of-the-art MRI scan to compare brain imaging of those recovered from COVID-19 to those who have never tested positive for the infection.

“This study is to identify the long-term neurological and psychiatric effects of a COVID-19 infection,” according to the Biggs Institute study team, including Drs. Mitzi Gonzales, Gabriel de Erausquin, Sudha Seshadri, Monica Goss, and Mohamed Habes.

To volunteer for the 7T MRI Study, contact Vibhuti Patel (210-450-7186), Erin Pollet (210-450-8219), or Monica Goss (210-450-8073) weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

What Will Volunteering Entail for the 7T MRI Study?

For volunteers, participation will take between 5 to 7 hours over two visits to complete.

The first visit will include:

  • Review of current medications and physical and mental health prior to the pandemic
  • Review of daily functioning and behavior
  • Blood pressure and pulse examination
  • Neurological exam
  • Gait test: Participants will be asked to walk a distance of 4 meters. During the test, participants will be instructed to walk at a normal pace and a comfortably quick pace to review gait speed
  • Grip strength test: Participants will grip a dynamometer to measure the strength of the participant’s hand grip
  • Memory and thinking skills examination
  • Smell test: Participants will be tested using a self-administered olfactory function questionnaire about smelling sensations and will identify smells with a ‘Scratch and Sniff’ test
  • Blood draw

During the second visit, volunteers will get a state-of-the-art MRI scan normally used for specialty care at the Translational Imaging Center at Houston Methodist Research Institute in Houston.

Travel to and from the study center will be provided or reimbursed.

The scan will take about 60 to 90 minutes to complete. Volunteers will be required to have the scan completed at the imaging center within 1 month of their first visit.

“The MRI scan will be used for research insights; however, if our team finds something that needs clinical attention, participants will be referred to a physician and the scans will be made available,” according to the study webpage.

The 7T MRI Study is supported by the National Institutes of Health in partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, the University of Pittsburgh, Houston Methodist, and the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom.

To volunteer for the 7T MRI Study, contact Vibhuti Patel (210-450-7186), Erin Pollet (210-450-8219), or Monica Goss (210-450-8073) weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Who Is Eligible for the for the 7T MRI Study? 

Individuals looking to volunteer for this study must be between ages of 45 to 80.

Doctor with patient.

Participants must also have:

  • Recovered from COVID-19 in the last 6 months or
  • Developed an illness other than COVID-19 in the past 6 months or
  • Have not had any illnesses requiring hospitalization in the last 2 years

Regarding pre-existing conditions, participation in this study does not affect treatment plans for pre-existing conditions.

Volunteers may still participate if they have not had COVID-19. Participants who have received the COVID-19 vaccine also can enroll.

Participants will be compensated for their time after completion of examinations and will not be charged for any procedures performed as part of participation in the study.

Travel to and from the study center in Houston, Texas will also be provided or reimbursed.

To volunteer for the 7T MRI Study, contact Vibhuti Patel (210-450-7186), Erin Pollet (210-450-8219), or Monica Goss (210-450-8073) weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Why Is Brain Health Important for Latinos and All People?

Brain health is essential as people age, especially among people of color.

Currently, 13% of Latinos who are 65 or older have Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

By 2030, 40% of Alzheimer’s patients in the U.S. will be Latino or Black, according to data from Us Against Alzheimer’s.

With the rising, significant impact of these neurological diseases, clinical trials are important for helping researchers learn more and more to help slow, manage, and treat Alzheimer’s and related dementia among different populations.

However, Latinos have been historically underrepresented in clinical research.

The lack of Latinos in clinical trials makes it harder for researchers to find treatments for this group — which makes up 18.9% of the U.S. population and a diversity of heritages.

Latinos who volunteer for clinical trials are heroes, said Dr. Amelie Ramirez leader of the Salud America! program at the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio.

“Latinos who join clinical trials are making sure Latinos and all people equitably benefit from scientific advances in treatment, improved outcomes, and reduced health care costs for your familia, now and in the future,” Dr. Ramirez said.

To volunteer for the 7T MRI Study, contact Vibhuti Patel (210-450-7186), Erin Pollet (210-450-8219), or Monica Goss (210-450-8073) weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Explore Other Clinical Trials

The Biggs Institute continues to recruit volunteers for the 7T MRI Study.

To volunteer, contact Vibhuti Patel (210-450-7186), Erin Pollet (210-450-8219), or Monica Goss (210-450-8073) weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

You can help in other ways, too.

Our Salud America! team, led by Dr. Ramirez, is sharing open clinical trials and uplifting the voices and stories of Latinos who have participated in clinical trials to encourage Latinos to volunteer. Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, supports this work.

For example, ask Alma Lopez.

Breast cancer is the top cause of death for Latinas, but Lopez has been a breast cancer survivor for more than 15 years.

She believes participating in a clinical trial at UT Health San Antonio helped her get better treatment and better long-term health.

“Clinical trials are great for finding new treatments that help people,” Lopez said. “And it helps the scientists. It gives opportunity to better medication for all populations.”

Visit the Salud America! clinical trials page to find volunteer opportunities and explore the stories of others who have participated in trials!


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