The Molecular Imaging Research Laboratory of Timothy R. DeGrado, Ph.D, seeks to discover and develop novel imaging probes for noninvasive monitoring of biochemical processes to improve patient health and disease outcomes. The highly collaborative lab utilizes probes having nuclear and optical emissions with a strong focus on positron emitters for positron emission tomography (PET). The research has developed improved PET radiometal production using liquid cyclotron targets, radiometal protein-labeling synthons and a variety of radiopharmaceuticals. The laboratory performs in vitro and in vivo preclinical imaging evaluations of new probes and has successfully translated several probes to be evaluated in human patients with PET in neurodegenerative diseases and oncology.

Dr. DeGrado's team uses noninvasive methods to monitor the biochemistry in human diseases at the cellular level. The objective of the lab is molecular imaging development, specifically for:

  • Positron emission tomography (PET)
  • Single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT)
  • Optical imaging
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Radioisotope production, radiochemistry and radiopharmacology

Research focuses on receptor ligands and metabolizable small molecule radiotracers for cancer and for neuronal and cardiovascular imaging.

Molecular imaging improves patient care by providing a clearer understanding of the biochemical status of disease within each patient, allowing the best treatment options for individuals, rather than making decisions based on group averages. Novel molecular imaging targets help focus the interest to a specific aspect of the disease that is predictive on patient outcomes and sensitive to therapy response for early treatment information.

About Dr. DeGrado

Timothy R. DeGrado, Ph.D., is a professor of radiology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science in Rochester, Minnesota. An expert in the use and development of molecular imaging technologies, such as positron emission tomography (PET), he has research interests that include radioisotope production on low-energy cyclotrons, radiometal protein-labeling synthons, fluorine-18 radiochemistry, metabolic imaging, fatty acid oxidation probes, radiopharmacology, sodium iodide symporter (NIS) imaging, and preclinical and clinical PET imaging.