Targeted Imaging Agents

Research Overview

The general field of the research in this lab is the development of novel molecular imaging agents and therapeutics, with synthetic chemistry being one of our primary strengths. Current projects include imaging acute inflammation-related neutrophil activation and migration with PET, SPECT and live animal fluorescence modalities with small peptide ligand and developing tumor-targeting molecules as cancer imaging agent and drug carrier.

Our laboratory consists of three interacted sections: a conventional synthetic organic lab for synthesis and modification of the precursor of imaging probes, a hot chemistry lab for radiolabeling, and a tissue culture lab for in vitro validation of newly synthesized imaging agents.

Development of novel cancer-targeting nuclear/fluorescence imaging probe

A series of heptamethine cyanine derived multimodal imaging tracers have been synthesized and demonstrated with tumor-targeting characteristics. Further development with various mouse tumor models is ongoing in our lab.

Development of tumor-targeting chemotherapy drug

Farnesylthiosalicylic acid (FTS) is an inhibitor of Ras and mTOR. It induces apoptosis of breast cancer cells especially those that are resistant to conventional therapy. However, the in vivo efficacy of FTS in animal model is limited due to its poor pharmacokinetics. Through collaborating with Dr Wei Yue, we are developing a new method of tumor-specific delivery of FTS by conjugating it with tumor-targeting carrier molecules.

Neutrophil-targeting Peptide Probes

We are developing neutrophil-targeting peptide probes for non-invasive imaging of acute infectious and inflammatory diseases with PET, SPECT, and live animal fluorescence imaging modalities.


Stuart Berr, PhD – Professor of Medical Imaging Research

Jiang He, PhD – Associate Professor of Medical Imaging Research

Dongfeng Pan, PhD – Associate Professor of Medical Imaging Research

James Stone, MD, PhD – Associate Professor of Radiology and Medical Imaging