I am a clinician-scientist and the BC Leadership Chair in Functional Cancer Imaging with a primary interest in developing new molecular imaging tools and methods for the diagnosis and in vivo characterization of cancers. My expertise covers both pre-clinical research related to the evaluation of novel radiopharmaceuticals, from the design phase to receptor-binding assays, preclinical evaluation, and clinical research ranging from phase 0-1 studies to multicentre clinical trials. I bridge the gap between basic science and clinical applications.

We established a state-of-the art cyclotron and molecular imaging facility at BC Cancer. I have extensive experience directing PET programs and a cyclotron facility and have always been intimately involved in the operation of the cyclotron and radiochemistry laboratories. I managed the PET/CT core laboratory for the Medical Imaging Trial Network of Canada. As part of this network, I led multicenter prospective clinical trials on the use of 18F-NaF to detect bone metastases in breast and prostate cancers and on the clinical validation of cyclotron produced 99mTc. I am also leading clinical trials using 18F- and 177Lu-labeled radiopharmaceuticals for diagnosis and therapy of prostate cancer.

My team consists of scientists, technologists and trainees from a diverse background ranging from molecular biologists, chemists, radiochemists, medical physicists, nuclear medicine technologists to cyclotron operators. My research group currently includes 5 graduate students, 3 coop students, 5 post-doctoral fellows/research associates, 1 research radiochemist, 3 technicians, with 2 nuclear medicine technologists for preclinical imaging. Institutionally supported staff members include medical physicists who support the clinic and cyclotron facility, 4 radiochemists involved in routine production of radiotracers, a clinical research manager and multiple technologists. A QA manager and a QA specialist supervise the GMP aspects of our program.

Members

Faculty/Leaders

Affiliate

Sara Harsini

Visiting Scientist

Staff

Cynthia Ferguson

Research Projects and Operations Leader

Lauren Fougner

Functional Imaging - Lab Safety Coordinator

Lily Lee Lee Li

Functional Imaging - Student

Carolyn Lui

Coordinator, Research Administration, Office of VP Research / Office of Research Administration

Noeen Malik

Functional Imaging - Post-doctoral Fellow

Behnoud Mohammadi

Research Project Assistant

Jinhe Pan

Research Assistant

Maral Pourghiasian

Project Manager

Aron Roxin

Research Associate

Milan Vuckovic

Functional Imaging - Production Unit Manager

Michael Woods

Functional Imaging

Post-Docs

Students/Trainees

Ivica Bratanovic

Graduate Student

Daniel Kwon

Graduate Student

Hin Ni (Teresa) Law

Graduate Student

Selected Publications

Projects

Quantitative Imaging and Radiation Dosimetry

Our aim is to develop data acquisition protocols that generate fully quantitative reconstructed images.  Radiomics, the extraction of extensive quantitative features from images, has generated interest promising improved assessment of disease and prediction of outcome. Moreover, quantitative images allow for the personalized estimation of radiation doses delivered to tumors and target organs in molecular radiotherapies.  

Cyclotron-produced radioisotopes

The identification and the availability of a radioisotope for radiolabeling with properties and half-life that match with the pharmacokinetic of the radiopharmaceutical is crucial. Key collaborations with radiochemists at UBC, TRIUMF and the BC Cancer Agency allow developing methods for cyclotron-produced radioisotopes and purification as an attractive and practical substitution of reactors/generators, e.g 44Sc, 86Y and 61Cu 68Ga or 99mTc (actually available for patient SPECT imaging).

Targeted radionuclide therapy for cancer

A radiopharmaceutical can be conjugated with radioactive isotopes for use either in diagnosis (e.g. low doses of radiations that do not harm patients) or treatment, with radioactive isotopes that emit damaging radiation to kill tumour cells. Continued identification of new tumour‐specific targets and the development of targeting agent are key to the development of new therapeutics, which are urgently needed to improve the outcome of treatment resistant cancer.

Radiopharmaceuticals for cancer imaging

Molecular imaging techniques, including positron emission tomography (PET) and single photo emission computed tomography (SPECT), provide information about the presence of specific drug targets on cancer cells. PET is a robust and highly sensitive imaging method that allows for the characterization of cancers via real‐time tracking of radioactive compounds that bind to tumour‐specific “markers” (or, receptors).

Sponsors

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