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

Studying COVID-19's long-term neurological and psychological impacts.


Study at a Glance

Estimated Time Commitment

5 to 7 hours over 2 visits


45 to 80 years

Diagnosis Required


Diseases Being Studied

COVID-19 and brain health

About the Study

This study is to identify the long-term neurological and psychiatric effects of a COVID-19 infection. Participants will receive 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. Participants will also receive cognitive, smell, walking and blood examinations. This is an international study 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 this study, participants must be between the ages of 45 to 80 and:

  • 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


Participation will take between 5 to 7 hours over 2 visits to complete. This includes provided or reimbursed travel to Houston, Texas for an MRI scan.

First visit

The first visit will include a:

  • 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

Second visit  

For the second visit, volunteers will receive a state-of-the-art MRI scan normally used for specialty care at the Translational Imaging Center at Houston Methodist Research Institute in Houston, Texas. (Travel to and from the study center will be provided or reimbursed.) The scan will take approximately 60 to 90 minutes to complete. All volunteers will be required to have the scan completed at the Translational Imaging Center in Houston within 1 month of the 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.

Pre-existing conditions 

Participation in this study does not affect treatment plans for pre-existing conditions. 


Participants will be compensated for their time after completion of examinations. Tavel to and from the study center in Houston, Texas will be provided or reimbursed. Volunteers will not be charged for any procedures performed as part of participation in the study.

Protecting Privacy

To protect the privacy of our volunteers, our team will use numbers instead of names to identify health information. Initials and numbers will be used on any study materials containing health information shared for review or testing outside of UT Health San Antonio, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, University of Pittsburgh, Houston Methodist and/or University of Nottingham. If results of this study are published in medical journals or at meetings, information shared will not be identifiable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I participate if I have not had COVID-19? Yes, we are particularly interested in separating the effects of the pandemic, such as social isolation, and the effects of non-COVID-19 related illnesses from the effects of COVID-19. Participants who have never been diagnosed with COVID-19 are welcome to enroll.

Can I participate if I have received the COVID-19 vaccine? Yes, all participants, regardless of their vaccination status, are welcome to enroll. All clinical research team members are vaccinated.

Meet Your Clinical Research Team

Contact us

Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm

Vibhuti Patel: 210-450-7186

Erin Pollet: 210-450-8219

Monica Goss: 210-450-8073