Vanderbilt University to build $7.5M molecular imaging center

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The National Cancer Institute has awarded a $7.5 million grant to the Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science and the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, Tenn., to establish a new imaging program.

The five-year grant will support the Vanderbilt In Vivo Cellular and Molecular Imaging Center (ICMIC), which will provide scientific and technical resources to develop molecular imaging studies of cancer biology and to advance translational imaging research in cancer care. A special focus of the program will be to develop imaging biomarkers that can be used to predict and measure whether patients respond to specific treatments.

John Gore, PhD, director of the Institute of Imaging Science and principal investigator for the new grant, said the ICMIC will create several specialized resources, including an expanded small animal imaging core, a chemistry core, a radiochemistry core and a biostatistics core. Research will focus on the development and application of sensitive new imaging probes and allow researchers to assess how specific in vivo molecular signal transduction pathways, and physiologic changes caused by changes in these pathways, are modified by cancer and cancer therapy.

Gore said the ICMIC grant will initially fund four major projects, which will assess the response mechanisms of novel, targeted anti-cancer treatments using imaging probes via optical, PET and SPECT imaging. The research will be complemented by measuring downstream effects using ultrasound, MRI and CT scans.