Cellular and Molecular Imaging

Collectively, non-invasive medical imaging platforms provide excellent anatomical information; however, molecular and cellular details are not typically well resolved. To achieve finer structural and functional information about human health and disease, cell tracking and molecular imaging techniques are being developed. Using the fields of chemistry and molecular and cellular biology to label metabolites, genes, proteins and cells, BIRC investigators are adapting various biomarkers for detection by clinical diagnostic imaging modalities such as MRI, PET, SPECT and optical imaging. Many imaging platforms are adaptable to hybrid imaging (e.g. SPECT/CT, PET/CT and PET/MRI), allowing for the synchronous collection of both anatomical and molecular information. Cellular and molecular imaging research is therefore a partnership between chemists, biologists and physicists, attempting to track cellular activities as they occur in living subjects.

Currently, the Cellular and Molecular Imaging Group has:

·     Installed a cyclotron for the on-site production of Positron Emitting Radiopharmaceuticals (PERs)

·     Installed Canada's first and only whole body hybrid PET/MRI (Siemens Biograph mMR), capable of simultaneous acquisition of PET and MRI scans

·     Developed methods for the design and synthesis of molecular imaging probes

·     Developed small animal imaging models for preclinical research

·     Developed single cell imaging with MRI

·     Developed large animal imaging models for clinical translation.

·     Developed research collaborations across disciplines in London and within Ontario

·     Partnerships with private industry

·     Led the creation of a new interdisciplinary graduate program in molecular imaging at Western

·     Patented molecular imaging technologies

o  Magnetosome gene expression for MRI

o  Imaging probes for the growth hormone secretagogue receptor

Future plans for the team include:

·     Development of reporter gene expression for MRI, cardiac and muscle stem cell transplantation, cancer cell tracking, pancreatic cell fate determination

·     New peptide probes for molecular imaging

·     Better hybrid imaging to verify cell status using multiple indicators and to monitor multiple cellular activities simultaneously

·     Implementation of fluorine-19 based cell tracking technologies

·     Translation of research into clinical practice; specifically MRI will be used to track immune cells in prostate cancer patients

Jeff Carson, PhD, Photoacoustic Imaging
Savita Dhanvantari, PhD, Diabetes
Paula Foster, PhD, Small Animal MRI
Neil Gelman, PhD, MRI for Breast Cancer Imaging
Beth Gillies, PhD, Nanotechnology
Donna Goldhawk, PhD, MRI reporter gene expression
Lisa Hoffman, PhD, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
Jim Koropatnick, PhD, (LRCP), Molecular Oncology
Ting-Yim Lee, PhD, PET/CT
Claude Lemaire, PhD, (U Waterloo), Micro MRI
Leonard Luyt, PhD, Probe Development
Michael Kovacs, PhD, Cyclotron & Radiochemistry
Frank Prato, PhD, Diagnostic imaging
Robert Stodilka, PhD, SPECT/CT
Terry Thompson, PhD, PET/MRI
Gerald Wisenberg, MD, Cardiology
Pamela Zabel, MScPhm, Radiopharmacy
Greg Dekaban, PhD, Microbiology and Immunology
David Hess, PhD, Microbiology and Immunology