PI Name: Russ Jacobs
Institution: California Institute of Technology
Positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are major tools of the clinical diagnostician and the basic research scientist. They offer non-destructive three-dimensional (3D) views into deep tissues. PET, through the use of radio-labeled molecular probes can sensitively assay a range of biological processes (e.g. metabolic activity, receptor density, signal transduction) with high signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and millimeter spatial resolution. MRI is exquisitely sensitive to soft tissue differences and abnormalities with resolution as fine as 105 in small samples. Although SNR is intrinsically low in the magnetic resonance (MR) experiment, new MRI contrast agents offer the potential of monitoring specific biological processes at high resolution, albeit at a significantly lower sensitivity than PET. Given the complementary strengths of these imaging modalities it was logical to consider integrating the two. One of the two major small-animal PET/MRI systems is developed by this DBP project and has been used for a significant number of proof-of-concept in vivo studies.