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Theranostics and Molecular Imaging

The Department of Radiology has a thriving research program in identifying innovative biomarkers, developing targeted contrast agents, and engineering image-guided therapeutics (theranostics) to transform early disease detection and advance personalized medicine and precision therapy. Many of our projects focus on targeting the prostate-specific membrane antigen (or PSMA) for improved diagnosis and therapy of cancer. Specific research topics include:

  • Optical imaging agents for detection of tumor resection margins
  • Gold nanoparticles for photodynamic therapy and sensitization of radiation therapy
  • PSMA-targeted nanoscale ultrasound contrast agents (aka nanobubbles) for biopsy guidance with transrectal ultrasound (TRUS)
  • Focused therapy of aggressive prostate cancer

We are also developing nuclear imaging agents, including F18-labeled chlofarabin, to predict response to deoxycytidine kinase -targeting treatment, nuclear imaging probes for detection of neurodegenerative diseases, and studying sodium-glucose transporters for treatment planning and prediction of therapeutic efficacy. Finally, we are developing contrast-enhanced dynamic magnetic resonance fingerprinting (MRF) for imaging polycystic kidney disease and cancer.

Research Team

  • Norbert Avril, MD
  • James P. Basilion, PhD
  • Agata A. Exner, PhD
  • Arash Kardan, MD
  • Zhenghong Lee, PhD
  • Raymond F. Muzic, Jr., PhD
  • Yanming Wang, PhD