Create a multi-disciplinary center for translational molecular imaging research, education, and novel biomarker development for preclinical and clinical imaging studies.
The program is organized into three principal components:
- Physics and Methodology,
- Radiopharmaceutical Development
- Applications for both animals and humans.
The methodology group includes Josh Schaefferkoetter, BS, Graduate Research Assistant and Dr. Dustin Osborne, Assistant Professor, Department of Radiology. Dr. Osborne is an imaging specialist and physicist providing technical expertise with regard to developing experiments, optimizing the conditions under which the experiments are performed, and analysis of data acquired from the imaging systems.
George Kabalka, PhD, Professor, The Robert H. Cole Neuroscience Chair and Director, Basic Research, Biomedical Imaging Center,
UT Graduate School of Medicine, heads the radiotracer and biomarker development.
The $600,000 Preclinical and Diagnostic Molecular Imaging Laboratory is headed by Jonathan S. Wall, PhD, Professor, Department of Medicine. The facility has four scanning suites with PET and SPECT/CT imaging capability, animal holding rooms and laboratory workspace. This research is supported by Stephen J. Kennel, PhD, radio- biochemist, and Alan Stuckey, BA, CNMT, research leader and imaging specialist, who operates the imaging devices and manages the facility.
The preclinical imaging program involves close collaboration with the UT College of Veterinary Medicine and the Human Immunology and Cancer Program of Alan Solomon, MD and Jonathan S. Wall, PhD. Establishing a strong animal imaging initiative for translational research is an essential part of the MITRP mission. Oncologist Amy LeBlanc, DVM, Assistant Professor, Department of Radiology and Director of Translational Research, UTGSM, plays an instrumental role in meeting this goal by bridging the gap in translational research between micro imaging of small animal models and the imaging of clinical patients and can only be undertaken in an academic environment that includes a high-level veterinary college such as the one at UTCVM.
In addition to these preclinical imaging facilities, a state-of-the-art high resolution 6-slice PET/CT scanner with an advanced design offering improved sensitivity for PET imaging has been installed in the Cancer Institute at the UT Medical Center. This scanner is part of an NIH-funded collaborative initiative with Siemens Molecular Imaging. The scanner is used for both routine clinical and clinical research studies.
All administrative aspects are managed by Melissa Weaver, Program Administrator.
The primary focus of the MITRP is the imaging of cancer, with a current workload of 5-7 clinical PET/CT scans per day and 2-3 research studies per week. However, the importance of PET imaging in other areas of clinical research is demonstrated by on-going projects in neuroscience with John Dougherty, MD. Current research projects in molecular imaging include monitoring response to chemotherapy with medical oncologist Wahid Hanna, MD, and staging head and neck cancer prior to surgery in collaboration with surgeon Eric Carlson, DMD, MD, FACS.