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Volunteer in a Research Study

The Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC offers a range of opportunities for participating in research studies aimed at improving our understanding of the human brain. These studies, all of which are compensated, take place in the Institute's state-of-the-art facility at 1 or 2 Riverside Circle in Roanoke, Virginia. 

Many of these studies involve functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, a noninvasive technique that does not cause discomfort. Unlike x-rays and CT scans, fMRI does not involve exposure to any radioactive material. 

A sampling of studies appears below. To schedule an appointment or to learn more, please use the contact information provided below for the specific study or studies in which you are interested in participating.

What is a research study? A research study is an organized way of learning more about a problem or answering a question. Our research studies use interviews, computer tasks, and functional MRI to understand how the brain makes decisions. Getting an MRI is standard, completely non-invasive, and not painful.

Are there benefits to participating in research? There may or may not be a direct benefit to you if you take part in our studies. The study may not help you personally, but your participation will provide information that is expected to improve the lives of others in the future and further our understanding of how the brain works. Research volunteers often tell us that they learn a lot about themselves and the research process by participating in our studies.

What does participation involve? In our studies, we will first ask you some questions to determine whether you are appropriate for each part of the study. If you are eligible, you will complete a series of questionnaires and interviews about your current and past mental and physical health. During the fMRI visit, you will play simple computer games as your brain activity is recorded. Depending on the specific study, your participation may take one or more visits to the lab. Before you enroll, the study coordinator will let you know how long your participation is expected to last.

Why do people choose to participate? People choose to participate for many reasons. For example, some hope to learn about the research process, some want to help researchers understand how the brain functions, and some want to be part of advancing knowledge and treatments of conditions that have affected themselves or their loved ones. Thanks to help from volunteers, we are able to achieve these goals.

What is informed consent? Informed consent is the process of learning the key facts about a research study before you choose whether or not to volunteer. During the consent process, our staff will explain the procedures of the study, how participation might affect you, and your rights as a research volunteer. Our research staff will answer any questions you may have and also ask you to read an "informed consent form" that goes over these details. If you choose to participate, we will ask you to sign the informed consent form.

Will I be compensated? Participants are always compensated for their time in our studies, and the rates vary depending on the study. Also, you will receive a copy of your brain on CD the first time you come in for a scan.

Who can participate? Most of our studies have requirements that must be met in order for you to participate. These requirements are designed to keep you safe and ensure that we can use the data. Some studies have broad requirements such as being over a specific age. Other studies have a more focused requirement, such as having certain life experiences. In general, to participate in fMRI studies, you must NOT have any metal implants (e.g., pacemakers, surgical clips), be claustrophobic, or have a serious medical condition (e.g., cancer, seizure disorder).

Who will see the results of the study? We take your privacy very seriously, and we will never identify you individually in discussing the results from the study. Any results that are presented to the community will be completely de-identified and are usually presented as group averages. We are happy to share these results with you. Only if you give us permission, examples from your experiences may be used to teach future clinicians and researchers.

What if I do not want to participate? Participation is always voluntary. You can change your mind at any time and leave any of our studies without adverse consequences.

The Human Neuroimaging Laboratory accepts volunteers interested in being added to the general recruitment pool for a range of research studies related to human cognition and decision-making. 

  • Eligibility: Healthy adults aged 18 to 64
  • Primary goal: To advance human brain research through behavioral and fMRI studies
  • Institute Sponsor: Human Neuroimaging Laboratory
  • Compensation: varies by study

To volunteer: Visit Subject Sign Upemail us, or call 540-526-2034

The Roanoke Brain Study is a partnership between the greater Roanoke Valley community and leading scientists to explore the cognitive, behavioral, and genetic factors that affect human decision-making. The study combines novel approaches in functional brain imaging, computational psychiatry, and genetics to study features of decision behavior and how those behaviors change in people over the course of their lives. The aim is to create a global information resource for scientists, physicians, patients, and policy makers seeking insight into processes of decision-making to facilitate healthier lives. The primary task will be an fMRI scan, a non-invasive imaging tool that allows us to capture images of the brain and its activity while volunteers view images, play games, or interact with other people. Volunteers may also be asked to provide a small DNA sample, fill out questionnaires, play simple games on the computer, or interact with other people inside or outside the MRI scanner.

Eligibility: Healthy adults aged 18 to 85

Compensation: Approximately $100

Primary goal: To understand how genes and environment contribute to brain strategies for decision-making in all aspects of life.

Institute sponsor: Human Neuroimaging Laboratory

Study timeframe: Ongoing

To volunteer: Visit Roanoke Brain Study for more information.

Volunteers may sign up for the Roanoke site or the Blacksburg site

The Human Neuroimaging Laboratory is recruiting volunteers for a study involving cigarette smokers. If eligible, there may be a total of four visits involving brain imaging techniques, questionnaires, and saliva samples.

Eligibility: Adults aged 18 to 65 who smoke at least 10 cigarettes per day

Primary goal: To investigate how the brain processes decisions and rewards and how those processes are different in smokers and non-smokers

Compensation: $20-$600, dependent upon study participation

To volunteer: Visit Subject Sign Up, email us at, or call 540-526-2034

Are you pregnant or the biological mother of a newborn? The Howell Lab is looking for healthy infants ranging from birth to 2 months of age to participate in our study examining infant brain development.

Eligible infants and their mothers will be asked to come in for at least four visits over the course of two years. Infants may be eligible if they were born between 32-42 weeks of pregnancy with no major complications and have no significant health conditions.

Participation may involve:

  • MRI Scanning (a safe, a non-invasive imaging tool)
  • Behavioral Assessments (resembles games and playing)
    • Remotely accessed via Zoom
    • FBRI visit when the child is 12 and 24 months (can be changed depending on situation)
  • Home Collection of Infant Fecal Samples
  • Home Collection of Breast Milk (if mother is currently breastfeeding)
  • Online Surveys (can be completed at home)

Visits should take 40 minutes to 2 hours each. At each time point, participants may be compensated between $40-160 ($410-750 over the two year study period), depending upon the level of involvement.

For more information or questions, visit, call us at 540-526-2062, or e-mail us at

We are looking to understand how people with and without a range of interpersonal difficulties process different kinds of information. By looking at a person’s brain while they play games, we can begin to understand how they make decisions. The decisions that a person makes while playing games can tell us about how a person might make interpersonal decisions in real life and what brain functions are used in the process.

You may be eligible if you:

  • Are 18-55 years old
  • Speak English
  • Are NOT claustrophobic
  • Do NOT have any metal implants (e.g. pacemakers, screws)
  • Have NOT had a head injury

Participation includes:

  • Decision making games and questionnaires
  • MRI brain scan
  • Interviews about personality, behaviors, and life experiences
  • Participants will receive $15/hour and have the opportunity to earn up to an additional $75 based on performance in the games

Please contact the study staff at 540-526-2032 or if you are interested in participating.

By tapping the insights and experiences of people who are in recovery from an addiction—whether to tobacco, alcohol, drugs, or a harmful behavior—the International Quit & Recovery Registry seeks to further scientific understanding of recovery and to inspire those struggling with addiction. Participation in the registry involves an online registration process, which includes a brief questionnaire about the individual's recovery process. Participants are also encouraged to share their success stories.

Visit International Quit & Recovery Registry

Interested in participating in taste research?
Are you between the ages of 18-45?
Is English your primary language?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be eligible for a research study!

The Center for Health Behaviors Research at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, located in Roanoke, is conducting a 5-week research study in which participants will taste several flavors, drink flavored beverages, and have their blood sugar levels measured.

Participants will:

  • Complete a prescreening survey.
  • Taste and rate several flavored beverages.
  • Drink flavored beverages, that we provide, at home. 
  • May have an MRI scan of their brain and receive a copy of their brain scan. 
  • Be compensated up to $255 for participation in a tasting session, 3 blood draw sessions, 3 energy expenditure sessions, and one fMRI scanning session.

If interested in participating:

IRB # 19-927

Development of a Model for the Simulation of and Participant Performance Evaluation in Opioid Overdose Response and Naloxone Administration

Seeking participants for a simulation study of opioid overdose response

The purpose of the study is to develop and validate a new simulation-based tool for opioid overdose response for use in training and other applications. In this study, researchers will study participants’ response to a simulated opioid overdose. This will provide evidence for the development of meaningful metrics to assess the performance of rescuers after they are trained. We are looking for a variety of participants, from healthcare professionals to people with no healthcare experience, both trained and untrained in opioid overdose response. If you participate, you will complete the simulated overdose scenario and questionnaires that show us what you know and how you feel about responding to an opioid overdose.

*COVID-19 Risk*

We have taken steps to reduce risk related to COVID-19 and will provide you with the appropriate personal protective equipment.

Participants will receive:

  • $50.00


  • Carilion Clinic
  • There will be one study visit lasting 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Are you eligible?

  • 18 years or older
  • No healthcare experience OR healthcare professional
  • Personal experience OR no personal experience with opioid/IV substance use

If you are unsure if you meet the requirements or are interested in participating, call or email a member of the study team:

Franklin Edwards, study coordinator


Phone: 540-855-6885

Or complete a screening survey:

QR code


Interested in participating in research on energy expenditure?

Are you between the ages of 18-45?

Is English your primary language?

No known history of diabetes or thyroid problems?

If you answered yes to these questions, you may be eligible for a research study!

The Center for Health Behaviors Research at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech Carilion, located in Roanoke, is conducting a research study in which participants will undergo 2 different types of measurements of metabolic rate and drink flavored beverages or consume foods. Your involvement may last between 2-12 weeks.

Participants will:

  • Complete a prescreening survey.
  • Choose the number of beverages/foods and metabolic tests in which they would like to participate (up to 6 beverages or foods and 12 tests)
  • Drink flavored beverages or eat foods while undergoing measurements of metabolic rate

If interested in participating:

Email us at


Call 540-526-2174 and speak with research staff.


Complete the prescreening survey here.

Do You Drink Alcohol? Are You Interested in Cutting Back?

You may be eligible to earn up to $470 in a compensated 3-session research study! If you are interested, please complete the screen online at to learn if you are eligible.

Please note that this is not a treatment study.

Participation involves:

  • Computerized assessments
  • fMRI scan
  • Self-administration of alcohol
  • Questions on drug and alcohol use

Eligibility criteria include:

  • Adults 21 years old and older
  • Availability to participate in Roanoke once per week for three consecutive weeks
  • Meeting all MRI safety qualifications

Additional travel compensation and transportation arrangements for the alcohol self-administration session will be provided as needed.

For more information, please call (540) 315-0205 or contact the research team at

Do you smoke cigarettes? 

Volunteers ages 21-65 needed for a 2-session confidential cigarette smoking study. 

This is not a treatment study.

Participation involves:

  • Screening questions
  • Sessions last 1-2 hours
  • Computerized questionnaires
  • Purchasing tasks
  • Females who are able to becomepregnant and are: pregnant,lactating,or not willing to usecontraceptives are excluded.
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Transportation compensation available
  • Compensation up to $87

Call or email for more information, or screen online today!

The Legon Lab at Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC is recruiting volunteers for a cutting-edge brain research study. If eligible, participants will take part in a multi-session study involving a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, a computed tomography (CT) scan, low-intensity focused ultrasound (LIFU), testing consisting of heating and cooling sensations on the skin, and questionnaires.

Primary goal: To investigate the effects of low-intensity focused ultrasound (LIFU), a non-invasive brain stimulation method, on pain management

Who is eligible? 

  • Healthy adults aged 18-65
  • Availability to participate in Roanoke for a multi-session study
  • Meets all MRI and CT safety qualifications

How much time will it take? 

Each session will take about 2-3 hours for a total of about 12-14 hours.

How will I be compensated? 

Participants will be compensated between $250 and $290 depending on study participation.

Still have questions? Contact us.


Ready to volunteer? Complete this form.


Planning a visit to the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute and need more information? Stephanie Hairston will assist you.