Nuclear and Clinical Molecular Imaging Research

Nuclear medicine works closely with basic scientists. The Director of Radiopharmaceutical Research is Henry VanBrocklin, PhD, Professor of Radiology, who heads the group of chemists working in the field of radionuclide synthesis. Youngho Seo, PhD, is the Director of Physics Research Lab and oversees x-ray and radionuclide imaging instrumentation and physics. Robin Ippisch, PhD, is Radiopharmaceutical Facility Director who oversees all the regulatory aspects of radiopharmaceutical production and delivery.

The UCSF Radiopharmaceutical Facility is a UCSF core laboratory registered with the FDA as a manufacture of positron emitting radiopharmaceutials (PET drugs). PET drugs are used in routine and investigational clinical studies as well as basic science research to enhance the understanding of normal and disease tissue pathology by targeting metabolic and molecular pathways in the cell and cellular receptors. This information is used to assist in the current treatment planning options for patients and developing new diagnostic techniques for patients future treatment options.
PET Brain Study – UCSF Medical

Cancer Research Using Nuclear Medicine Techniques

One key focus area of research in UCSF’s nuclear medicine group is the application of PET imaging in oncology. Currently studies are underway to assess the efficacy of staging several different solid tumors (malignant tumor) cancers with FDG-PET, predicting therapeutic responsiveness and developing new targeted radioligands to use in radio-nuclide imaging. This could be useful for radiation treatment planning for non-small-cell carcinoma of the lung and head and neck cancer. PET has shown high sensitivity and specificity for detecting primary and metastatic tumors, with metabolic tracers, such as [18F]-fluoro-2-deoxyglucose (FDG) for distinguishing recurrent tumor from post-therapeutic fibrosis or necrosis, and for monitoring and predicting response to therapy.

Radiopharmaceutical Synthesis – UCSF Medical

Biologically specific tracers, such as radio-labeled markers of hypoxic tissue, can be used with PET and have the potential to identify phenotypic characteristics of the tumor in individual patients so that therapy can be tailored specifically to that patient. 

 Nuclear and Clinical Molecular Imaging Research Faculty