Molecular Imaging Lab (Flavell Lab)

The overall goal of the Molecular Imaging Lab (Flavell Lab) is the development of new molecular imaging probes for better risk stratification and monitoring of response to therapy in patients with cancer. The Molecular Imaging Lab focuses on two modalities, positron emission tomography (PET) and hyperpolarized 13C magnetic resonance imaging. One particular area of interest is studying the microenvironment in cancer and its role in prognosis. Specifically, alterations in tissue pH, metal homeostasis, and immune infiltration are current active targets. 

molecular imaging probes

Research Projects

Project 1

Molecular imaging of tumor pH using chemical shift based hyperpolarized 13C probes

Molecular imaging of tumor pH using hyperpolarized 13C probes

In this project, a compound which has a predicted change in its chemical shift is polarized using dissolution dynamic nuclear polarization. By comparison against a standard curve, pH can be accurately calculated using a high SNR method.

References:

  • Flavell RR, von Morze C, Blecha JE, Korenchan DE, Van Criekinge M, Sriram R, Gordon JW, Chen HY, Subramaniam S, Bok RA, Wang ZJ, Vigneron DB, Larson PE, Kurhanewicz J, Wilson DM. Application of Good's buffers to pH imaging using hyperpolarized (13)C MRI. Chem Commun (Camb). 2015 Sep 25;51(74):14119-22. doi: 10.1039/c5cc05348j. PubMed PMID: 26257040; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4854286. https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2015/cc/c5cc05348j
  • Korenchan DE, Taglang C, von Morze C, Blecha JE, Gordon JW, Sriram R, Larson PEZ, Vigneron DB, VanBrocklin HF, Kurhanewicz J, Wilson DM, Flavell RR. Dicarboxylic acids as pH sensors for hyperpolarized (13)C magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging. Analyst. 2017 May 2;142(9):1429-1433. doi: 10.1039/c7an00076f. PubMed PMID: 28322385; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5462110. https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2017/an/c7an00076f

Project 2

Molecular imaging of tumor pH for better risk stratification in prostate cancer

Molecular imaging of tumor pH in prostate cancer

In this method, hyperpolarized 13C bicarbonate is applied to high spatial resolution imaging of tumor pH. The resulting pH maps can be used to discriminate between low and high grade cancers in mouse models.

References:

Project 3

PET imaging of tumor pH using microenvironment sensitive FDG amine prodrugs

PET imaging of tumor pH

In this strategy, a prodrug derivative of the commonly used PET tracer with an acid-sensitive caging group is administered, and used to generate whole body maps of areas of acidic interstitial pH.

References:

Flavell RR, Truillet C, Regan MK, Ganguly T, Blecha JE, Kurhanewicz J, VanBrocklin HF, Keshari KR, Chang CJ, Evans MJ, Wilson DM. Caged [(18)F]FDG Glycosylamines for Imaging Acidic Tumor Microenvironments Using Positron Emission Tomography. Bioconjug Chem. 2016 Jan 20;27(1):170-8. doi: 10.1021/acs.bioconjchem.5b00584. Epub 2015 Dec 22. PubMed PMID: 26649808; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4854293. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/acs.bioconjchem.5b00584

People

Robert Flavell, MD, PhDRobert Flavell, MD, PhD
Principal Investigator
Assistant Professor in Residence

 

 

 


Dave KorenchanDave Korenchan
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

 

 


Kristina LiuKristina Liu
Junior Specialist
[email protected]

 

 

 


Paola PerezPaola Perez Rivera
UCSF Medical Student
[email protected]

 

 

 


Celine TaglangCeline Taglang
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]


 

 


Sinan Wang, PostdocSinan Wang
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

 

 

 


Andrew HongAndrew Hong
UC Berkeley Student

 

 

 

 

Alumni


Henry Li, MSBI Graduate StudentHenry Li
MSBI Graduate Student
 

 

 

 


Justin Yu, MSBI Graduate StudentJustin Yu
MSBI Graduate Student
 

 

 

 

Opportunities

We are actively recruiting postdoctoral fellows and graduate students (pdf) with interests in molecular imaging, positron emission tomography, chemistry and radiochemistry, and hyperpolarized 13C MRI. 

Please contact Dr. Flavell with inquiries: [email protected]

News

May 2019

Congrats Dave Korenchan on his paper entitled “Using bidirectional chemical exchange for improved hyperpolarized 13C bicarbonate pH imaging” in Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.

March 2019

Dr. Flavell presented at the Society of Abdominal Radiology on: ”SAR 2017 Howard S. Stern Research Grant Report: Imaging of Zinc Metabolism Using Hyperpolarized 13C Magnetic Resonance Imaging" (pdf).

Flavell lab was well represented at the 2019 UCSF HMTRC with a poster presentation from Celine Taglang on “Imaging Tissue pH Using Chemical Shift-based Hyperpolarized 13C MRI Probes”, and Dave Korenchan and Sinan Wang running the chemical probes workshop.

Congrats Andrew Hong for receiving the Rose Hills Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship!

January 2019

Multiple presentations from Flavell lab at the precision imaging of cancer and therapy (PICT) retreat from Celine on “Imaging Tissue pH Using Chemical Shift-based Hyperpolarized 13C MRI Probes”, and Sinan on “Synthesis of borane-containing PSMA inhibitors and their biological evaluation for BNCT treatment of prostate cancer”

Dr. Flavell presented at the Northern California Health Physics Society on “Molecular Imaging Tools to Understand Cancer Progression” 

Dr. Flavell was awarded a research grant on “Risk stratification in prostate cancer using pH imaging” from the University of California Cancer Research Coordinating Committee.

October 2018

Flavell lab was well represented at the UCSF radiology research symposium with presentations including Celine Taglang’s ”Imaging tissue pH using chemical shift-based hyperpolarized 13C MRI probes”, Sinan Wang’s entitled “Development and validation of new hyperpolarized 13C magnetic resonance imaging probes targeting zinc metabolism”, Dave Korenchan’s entitled “Hyperpolarized In vivo pH Imaging Reveals Grade-Dependent Acidification in Prostate Cancer”, and Kristin Liu’s entitled “Towards Clinical Hyperpolarized 13C pH Imaging Using a New Bicarbonate Precursor”

Dr. Flavell presented at the UCSF prostate cancer program retreat on “Towards therapy of prostate cancer using boronated PSMA neutron capture therapy”

Dr. Flavell presented at the Prostate cancer foundation retreat on “Detection of aggressive prostate cancer through pH imaging using hyperpolarized 13C magnetic resonance spectroscopy”

September 2018

Sinan Wang presented a poster entitled “Development and validation of new hyperpolarized 13C magnetic resonance imaging probes targeting zinc metabolism” at the World Molecular Imaging Conference

August 2018

Andrew Hong presented his summer research project at the UC Berkeley SURF conference, entitled “Hyperpolarized Magnetic Resonance Zinc Probes for Prostate Cancer Detection and Risk Stratification.”

June 2018

Congratulations to Dave Korenchan for his poster presentations entitled "Hyperpolarized In vivo pH Imaging Reveals Grade-Dependent Interstitial Acidification” and "Mitigating Chemical Exchange Effects in Advanced Pulse Sequences for pH Imaging with Hyperpolarized [13C]bicarbonate”, and Celine for her poster presentation entitled: "Late-stage deuteration of 13C-enriched substrates for T1 prolongation in hyperpolarized 13C MRI” at the 2018 International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine meeting in Paris.

Congratulations to Paola Perez Rivera for receiving the Research Initiative to Promote Diversity in Radiology (RIDR) summer fellowship! 

Congratulations to Andrew Hong for receiving the SURF Rose Hills Independent Fellowship!

May 2018

Congratulations Celine Taglang on publication of her new article, "Late-stage deuteration of 13C-enriched substrates for T1 prolongation in hyperpolarized 13C MRI” in Chemical Communications"

Dr. Flavell was awarded an NIH R21 grant entitled: “Application of hyperpolarized 13C interstitial pH imaging to risk stratification in prostate cancer

November 2017

Dr. Flavell was Awarded a UCSF Prostate Cancer Program New Directions in Prostate Cancer Research Award.

Dr. Flavell gave a lecture at the Osher mini medical school for the public entitled “Cancer Detection and Treatment through Molecular Imaging: Theranostics at UCSF.” The lecture can be viewed on the following website: https://www.uctv.tv/shows/Cancer-Detection-and-Treatment-through-Molecular-Imaging-Theranostics-at-UCSF-32929

https://osherminimed.ucsf.edu/sites/osherminimed.ucsf.edu/files/wysiwyg/
Flavell_tomography.pdf

Congratulations to Dave Korenchan on an excellent poster presentation at the UCSF Prostate Cancer Program retreat!

October 2017

Congrats to Celine Taglang, Dave Korenchan and Sinan Wang on excellent oral presentations at the Precision Imaging in Cancer Therapy (PICT) symposium, and poster presentations at the UCSF Department of Radiology Research Symposium!
http://cancer.ucsf.edu/events/2017/10/04/precision-imaging-of-cancer-and-therapy-annual-retreat.8488

July 2017

Congratulations to our master’s degree graduates Justin Yu and Henry Li for their excellent thesis and presentations! Justin presented on “Optimization of pH imaging methodology for hyperpolarized 13C MRI” and Henry presented on “Detection of prostate cancer through molecular imaging of zinc using hyperpolarized 13C MRI”.

June 2017

Dr. Flavell received the Prostate Cancer Foundation Young Investigator Award.

April 2017
Congratulations to Dave Korenchan for his Magna Cum Laude award at the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine meeting for his presentation entitled "Chemical Shift Imaging of pH with Hyperpolarized [2-13C,D10] Diethylmalonic Acid", and “Hyperpolarization Methods & Equipment for Targeting Biological Mechanisms Study Group Abstract Award for best oral presentation”.

March 2017
Dr. Flavell was awarded the Howard S. Stern research award by the Society of Abdominal Radiology for his proposal entitled “Imaging of Zn metabolism using hyperpolarized 13C magnetic resonance imaging in prostate cancer".

February 2017
Dr. Robert Flavell was awarded an American Cancer Society individual research grant.

January 2017
Congratulations to Celine Taglang for being awarded a Department of Defense Postdoctoral Early Investigator Research Award.

September 2016
Dr. Robert Flavell was awarded a Department of Defense Physician Research Training Grant, entitled “Detection of aggressive prostate tumors using novel PET and hyperpolarized 13C probes targeting interstitial acidity.

Publications

Featured Publications

Korenchan DE, Gordon JW, Subramaniam S, Sriram R, Baligand C, VanCriekinge M, Bok R, Vigneron DB, Wilson DM, Larson PEZ, Kurhanewicz J, Flavell RR. Using bidirectional chemical exchange for improved hyperpolarized [13C]bicarbonate pH imaging. Magn Reson Med. 2019 May 3. doi: 10.1002/mrm.27780. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 31050049.

Taglang C, Korenchan DE, von Morze C, Yu J, Najac C, Wang S, Blecha JE, Subramaniam S, Bok R, VanBrocklin HF, Vigneron DB, Ronen SM, Sriram R, Kurhanewicz J, Wilson DM, Flavell RR. Late-stage deuteration of 13C-enriched substrates for T(1) prolongation in hyperpolarized 13C MRI. Chem Commun (Camb). 2018 May 17;54(41):5233-5236. doi: 10.1039/c8cc02246a. PubMed PMID: 29726563; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6054790.

Korenchan DE, Taglang C, von Morze C, Blecha JE, Gordon JW, Sriram R, Larson PE, Vigneron DB, VanBrocklin HF, Kurhanewicz J, Wilson DM, Flavell RR. Dicarboxylic acids as pH sensors for hyperpolarized 13C magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging. Analyst, 2017. DOI: 10.1039/C7AN00076F 

Flavell R.R.; Westphalen, A.C.; Liang, C.; Sotto, C.C.; Noworolski, S.M.; Vigneron, D.B.; Wang, Z.J.; Kurhanewicz, J. Abnormal findings on multiparametric prostate magnetic resonance imaging predict disease progression in patients with low risk prostate cancer managed with active surveillance, Abdom Imaging. 2014 Oct; 39(5):1027-35.

Flavell, R.R., Korenchan, D; von Morze, C; Van Criekinge, M; Sriram, R.; Gordon, J.; Subramaniam S.; Bok, R.; Blecha, J.; Vigneron, D.; Keshari K.; Larson, P.; Kurhanewicz J.; Wilson, D.M.  Application of Good’s buffers to pH imaging using hyperpolarized 13C-MRI Chem. Comm. 2015. 51, 14119-22.

Flavell R.R., Truillet C., Regan M.K., Ganguly T., Blecha J.E., Kurhanewicz J., VanBrocklin H.F., Keshari K.R., Chang C.J., Evans M.J., Wilson D.M. Caged [18F]FDG glycosylamines for imaging acidic tumor microenvironment using positron emission tomography, Bioconjugate chem. 2016, 27, 170-8. 

Flavell, R.R., Naeger, D.M., Mari Aparici, C., Hawkins, R.A., Pampaloni, M.H., Behr, S.C. Low FDG avidity malignancy on PET/CT: Pitfalls and Prognostic Significance Radiographics 2016, 36, 293-4.

Korenchan D.E., Flavell R.R., Baligand C., Sriram R., Neumann K., Sukumar S., VanBrocklin H., Vigneron D.B., Wilson D.M., Kurhanewicz J., Dynamic nuclear polarization of biocompatible 13C-enriched carbonates for in vivo pH imaging. Chem Comm., 2016, 52, 3030-3.

Flavell R.R., Wilson D.M., Behr S.C., Recent developments in combined PET/MRI. Curr. Radiol. Rep., 2016, 4(5) 1-10. 

Carroll V., Truillet C., Shen B., Flavell R.R., Shao X, Evans M.J., VanBrocklin H.F., Scott P., Chin F., Wilson D.M. [11C]Ascorbic and [11C]Dehydroascorbic acid, an endogenous redox pair for sensing reactive oxygen species using positron emission tomography. Chem. Comm. 2016, 52, 4888-90.

Flavell R.R., Behr S.C., Mabray M.C., Henandez-Pampaloni M., Naeger D.M., Detecting pulmonary nodules in lung cancer patients using whole body FDG PET/CT, high resolution lung reformat of FDG PET/CT, or diagnostic breath hold chest CT. Acad Radiol 2016, in press.

Liu W., Truillet C., Flavell R.R., Brewer T.F., Evans M.J., Wilson D.M., Chang C.J. A reactivity based [18F]FDG probe for in vivo formaldehyde imaging using positron emission tomography. Chem. Sci. 2016, 7, 5503-7.

Complete list of publications:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/myncbi/browse/collection/46224495/?sort=date&direction=ascending

Research gate site:

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Robert_Flavell?

Director of Molecular Imaging Lab

Assistant Professor
Assistant Director, Nuclear Medicine Residency & Fellowship Programs
Asst Professor in Residence