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Yale News, July 16, 2018, PET Breakthrough in AD: “Yale-developed test for Alzheimer’s disease directly measures synaptic loss.” A collaborative study by researchers at the Yale PET Center and the Yale Alzheimer’s Disease Research Unit (ADRU) has tested a new method for directly measuring synaptic loss in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. This new PET imaging method has the potential to accelerate research for new Alzheimer’s disease treatments.

“Yale is on Fire!” exclaimed Weibo Cai, PhD, moderator, at the 2018 Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNNMI) annual meeting awards ceremony (Philadephia, PA). The annual meeting was “kicked-off” by Dr. Richard Carson, plenary speaker, who presented the prestigious Henry N. Wagner Lecture, and culminated with Yale University PET Center Investigators receiving 6 additional awards! (TV interview)(photo1photo2photo3) Award recipients: Songye Li, PhD: 1st place prize in the Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry Young Investigator competition; Zhengxin Cai, PhD: 2018 Berson-Yalow Award (SNMMI News article featuring Dr. Li and Dr. Cai’s winning abstracts) Takuya Toyonaga, MD, PhD: SNMMI Wagner-Torizuka 2-Year Fellowship Program (photo); Yihuan Lu, PhD: 1st place prize in the Instrumentation and Data Analysis Young Investigator competition (abstract, photo) and 3rd place prize in the Neuroscience Young Investigator competition (abstract, photo); Jason Bini, PhD: 3rd place prize in the Instrumentation and Data Analysis Young Investigator competition. Congratulations to all award recipients! (group photo)

Zhengxin “Jason” Cai, PhD, Assistant Professor at the Yale University PET Center, has been awarded the Radiopharmaceutical Sciences Council 2018 Berson-Yalow Award for his abstract entitled,"In vivo imaging evaluation of a novel F-labeled SV2A PET tracer in nonhuman primates." This award, to be presented at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI), June 24th, Philadelphia, PA, honors investigators who submit the most original scientific abstracts and make the most significant contributions to basic or clinical radioassay. Jason will receive a plaque listing all authors of the winning abstract and an award check in the amount of $500.

Richard E. Carson, PhD, will give the Henry N. Wagner, MD, Lecture as the opening plenary speaker for the 2018 Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) Annual Meeting in Philadelphia PA, on Sunday, June 24, at 8:00 am. His presentation, entitled, Quantitative Nuclear Imaging: Is SUV the Best We Can Do?, will cover tracer kinetic analysis methods used for quantitative brain imaging applications, with a focus on synaptic density imaging, why SUV works as well as it does for FDG oncology studies, and imaging challenges faced in non-brain dynamic studies. Carson is professor of Radiology, Biomedical Imaging and Biomedical Engineering at Yale University. He is also Director of the Yale PET Center and Director of Graduate Studies for Yale’s Biomedical Engineering program. The Wagner Lectureship commemorates Henry N. Wagner, Jr., MD, a pioneer in nuclear medicine and international leader in the field for more than half century. The 2018 SNMI Annual Meeting ran from June 23 - June 26 in Philadelphia, PA.


Science Translational Medicine, front cover featured study (July 20, 2016, Vol. 8, Issue 348, pp.348ra96) : Researchers Richard E. Carson, PhD, Sjoerd J. Finnema, PhD and colleagues from the Yale University School of Medicine have developed a new approach to scanning the brain in live human beings for changes in synapses that are associated with common brain disorders. The study entitled, Imaging synaptic density in the living human brain, was conducted in collaboration with the Swebilius Foundation, UCB Pharma, and the National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NIH) and was also featured in Yale News (July 20, 2016): Yale scientists apply new imaging tool to common brain disorders. With this noninvasive method, researchers may be able to follow the progression of many brain disorders, including epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease, by measuring changes in synaptic density over time. Another application may be in assessing how pharmaceuticals slow the loss of neurons. The technique may provide insight into the diagnosis and treatment of a broad range of disorders.

Novel PDE2A PET radiotracer evaluated in humans . Researchers Richard E. Carson, PhD, Mika Naganawa, PhD, and colleagues from the Yale University School of Medicine, in collaboration with Pfizer, have reported the first in-human assessment of the radiotracer 18F-PF-05270430 – the first PET ligand to exhibit good properties for imaging and quantifying PDE2A in vivo. The enzyme phosphodiesterase-2A (PDE2A) is an important target in the development of drugs to treat patients with cognitive impairments. A PDE2A PET tracer could enable evaluation of disease-specific changes and testing of candidate compounds.

2015 (12/11/2015): Cerecor (CERC) Announces Publication of Data Regarding Human Brain Receptor Occupancy of CERC-501. In this study of healthy volunteers, CERC-501 (formerly known as LY2456302) demonstrated reproducible penetration of the blood-brain barrier and target engagement, as shown through PET imaging. CERC-501 is a potent and selective oral kappa opioid receptor, or KOR, antagonist being developed to treat depression and substance use disorders, such as alcohol, nicotine and/or illicit drug dependence. The study “Receptor Occupancy of the Kappa Opioid Antagonist LY2456302 Measured with PET and the Novel Radiotracer 11C-LY2795050’’ was conducted by researchers at the Yale University School of Medicine and Eli Lilly and Company and published in the December issue of the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (JPET).

Christine Sandiego, PhD, Postdoctoral Associate at the Yale PET Center and Yale student Shuo Wang, a PhD Candidate in Biomedical Engineering, have both received Young Investigator travel awards.

Christine Sandiego, PhD, Postdoctoral Associate at the Yale University PET Center, won the Best Paper Award for the Neuroscience Category at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Engineering (SNMMI), June 10th, Baltimore, MD, for her abstract entitled, “Systemic endotoxin induces a robust increase in microglial activation measured with [11C]PBR28 and PET in humans.” The Henry N. Wagner, Jr., MD, Best Highlights Session Paper Award recognizes outstanding science and identifies the top paper based on the criteria: Is it true? Is it new? Is it well designed? And is it meaningful? This award includes a $2,000 prize and a plaque, and is funded by the family of Dr. Wagner. Christine also received SNMMI awards for Best Abstract in the United States,as well as the Third Place Prize in Basic Science. Press releases on Christine’s paper were also published in SNMMI News and MedicalExpress See photo

Songye Li, PhD, Postdoctoral Associate at the Yale University PET Center, received the 2015 SNMMI Radiopharmaceutical Sciences Council Young Investigator Award at this year's annual meeting. The objectives of the award are to identify promising young investigators working in radiopharmaceuticals and radiopharmaceutical sciences nuclear medicine. Songye’s abstract is entitled, “Novel kappa opioid receptor agonists as improved PET radiotracers: Development and in vivo evaluation.” Songye also received a Travel Award from the Education and Research Foundation (ERF) for nuclear medicine and molecular imaging to attend and give an oral presentation at the 2015 International Symposium on Radiopharmaceutical Sciences in Columbia, Missouri, May 26-31.

Beata Planeta, MS, Research Associate at the Yale University PET Center was awarded a Master’s of Science Degree in Biostatistics from the Yale University School of Public Health, May 2015. She was also one of two recipients to receive the 2015 Master Thesis Award given by the Department of Biostatistics. Beata interned with the VA in West Haven and wrote her thesis using longitudinal data of veterans from the war in Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Christine Sandiego, PhD, Postdoctoral Associate at the Yale University PET Center and Yale student Shuo Wang, a PhD Candidate in Biomedical Engineering, have both received Young Investigator travel awards to attend the The XXVIIth International Symposium on Cerebral Blood Flow, Metabolism and Function (ISCBFM) & the XIIth International BrainPET Conference, June 27-30, 2015, in Vancouver, Canada. Shuo's abstract is entitled, "Categorizing networks of voxels into brain states based on segmentation of dopamine latencyimages.” Christine’s presentation is entitled, "Systemic immune challenge with endotoxin induces a robust increase in brain microglial activation: a C-11 PBR28 PET study in humans.”

Evan D. Morris, PhD, Associate Professor of Diagnostic Radiology, Biomedical Engineering, and Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, has been awarded a 2015-2016 Fulbright Scholar grant to conduct research and teach next winter at Hadassah Hospital and Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Morris will lecture on “Imaging Drugs in the Brain; New Technologies for Imaging the Brain’s Response to Cigarette Smoking,” based on a course he offers at Yale. He will work to establish the PET imaging analysis technology he invented and currently employs at the Yale University PET Center to study the brain’s response to smoking cigarettes. Since the 2010-11 academic year, there have been 12 Scholar Awards given to members of the Yale community, three of which have been awarded in Medical Sciences. This is the first time during that period that the award has been given to full-time ladder faculty. Congratulations, Evan!

NIDA features Cosgrove/Morris smoking study results: The effects of cigarette smoking on brain differ between men and women (Science Spotlight, January 8, 2015). Lead by Kelly Cosgrove, PhD, and Evan Morris, PhD, Yale University researchers discovered that brain activation during smoking occurs differently in men than in women. The research used a new method of brain imaging scan analysis, and was funded by NIDA and the NIH office of Research on Women's Health. The study showed that dopamine release in nicotine-dependent men during smoking occurred in the part of the brain (ventral striatum) associated with drug reinforcement. The dopamine response in women was found within a part of the brain (dorsal striatum) associated with habit formation.


PET research featured at SNMMI 2014. At the recent annual meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging in St. Louis, members of the Yale PET Center gave 11 oral and 4 poster presentations on topics including tracers for kappa opioid, histamine-3, PDE10A, and SV2A receptors, data analysis of VMAT2, LPA1, GlyT1, and myocardial perfusion agents, dopamine release from smoking, PET rodent studies of EGFR, and new PET/CT reconstruction and processing methods.


Ming-Kai Chen, MD, PhD was awarded the 2013-2014 Molecular Imaging Research Grant for Junior Medical Faculty by the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging. The objective of this program is to provide salary support for one junior faculty member in an academic/research setting to enable them to engage in Molecular Imaging research related to diagnostic or therapeutic applications. Dr. Chen, Assistant Professor, Diagnostic Radiology, Yale University School of Medicine will study "Molecular Imaging for Quantification of Demyelination, Glial Activation, and Amyloid in Multiple Sclerosis Patients with Cognitive Deficits."

NIH to fund collaborations with industry to identify new uses for existing compounds (NIH News & Events, June 18, 2013). The National Institutes of Health has awarded $12.7 million to match nine academic research groups with a selection of pharmaceutical industry compounds to explore new treatments for patients in eight disease areas, including Alzheimer’s disease, Duchenne muscular dystrophy and schizophrenia. Yale University award recipients include Stephen M. Strittmatter, MD, PhD; Haakon Berge Nygaard, MD, PhD; and Christopher H. Van Dyck, MD who will partner with AstraZeneca to study “Fyn inhibition by AZD0530 for Alzheimer’s disease." John H. Krystal, MD, will partner with Pfizer to study “Translational neuroscience optimization of GlyT1 inhibitor for cognitive impairments associated with schizophrenia.” This collaborative pilot initiative, called, Discovering New Therapeutic for existing Molecules, is led by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and funded by the NIH Common Fund.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) highlighted research by Dr. Kelly Cosgrove and colleagues at the Yale University School of Medicine in a featured article entitled, “Receptor May Underlie Gender Differences in Response to Smoking Cessation Therapy” (May 24, 2013). Cosgrove et al found that newly abstinent male smokers had more available units of a key nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) than male nonsmokers. Among women, this was not the case: smokers had similar numbers of receptors compared to nonsmokers. The researchers hypothesize that in men, the brain adapts to the chronic presence of nicotine by adding receptors, but then needs nicotine to continue to function normally. Among women, a different adaptation takes place, which may increase susceptibility to sensory cues to smoke, and may be modulated by progesterone. Dr. Cosgrove’s research is expanding from SPECT imaging to include PET imaging of nAChR with radiotracers in development at the Yale University PET Center.

Evan Morris PhD, received the 2013 Graduate Mentor Award (Sciences) at the Yale University Graduate School Convocation Ceremony on May 19, 2013. This award recognizes teachers and advisers who have been exceptional in their support of the professional, scholarly, and personal development of their graduate students. In his acceptance speech, Dr. Morris expressed his sincere appreciation for this honor and cited three keys to successful mentoring…“A. Always have great students; B. Treat them like colleagues; C. Demand a lot from them.” Dr. Morris is an associate professor of diagnostic radiology, of biomedical engineering, and of psychiatry, and co-director for imaging at the Yale University PET Center. see photo see video

Edward Fung, Xiao Jin, and Christine Sandiego successfully defended their PET Theses and were awarded doctorate degrees in Biomedical Engineering through the Yale University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences on May 20, 2013. Edward Fung’s PhD dissertation is entitled, “Cerebral blood flow measurements using carotid artery image-derived input functions in positron emission tomography." Xiao Jin’s thesis is entitled, “Event-by-Event Motion Correction in Positron Emission Tomography: Development, Evaluation and Applications,” and Christine Sandiego’s PET dissertation is entitled, “Neuroreceptor Imaging of the Awake Nonhuman Primate." Congratulations to these three PET researchers who, along with Jenna Sullivan, hold the distinction of being the first graduate students to receive doctoral degrees since the PET Center opened in January 2007!

PET researchers are portrayed as “Mapmakers of the living human body” in the March 2013 issue of the Medicine@Yale. The article positions Positron Emission Tomography as a vital tool for Yale School of Medicine researchers studying psychiatric diseases, diabetes, and cancer. The specific research contributions of investigators from a wide range of Yale School of Medicine departments are explored. In addition, the distinct benefits of utilizing PET in industry research collaborations are examined and the unique capabilities of this state-of-the-art PET facility are highlighted.


The Yale Center for Clinical Investigation highlights the expanding research capabilities of the Yale University PET Center. A featured article in the Fall 2012 YCCI newsletter, ”PET Research Center Moves Beyond the Brain,” explores how PET investigators are expanding research interests and capabilities beyond brain imaging to include studies in diabetes and cancer.

... "and you can call her Doctor!" On December 14, 2012, Jenna Sullivan successfully defended her PhD thesis, entitled, "Development of PET Methodologies for Imaging Addiction: Imaging the mGluR5 and Detecting Smoking-induced Dopamine Release." Sullivan, who is now Manager of Translational Research at InVicro in Boston, will walk in the graduation procession in May 2013. Her PhD, in Biomedical Engineering, will be awarded through the Yale University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Jenna is the first to receive the doctorate awarded to a graduate student conducting research through the Yale University PET Center since it opened in New Haven in January 2007.

Chi Liu, PhD recipient of 2012 Young Investigator Medical Imaging Science Award. Dr. Chi Liu, Assistant Professor, Yale University PET Center, was presented with the Bruce Hasegawa Young Investigator Medical Imaging Science Award at the 2012 IEEE Medical Imaging Conference. This annual award recognizes young investigators who have made significant and/or innovative technical contributions to the field of Medical Imaging Science.

PET collaborations with Pharma aid in CNS drug development (American Pharmaceutical Review – 6/19/2012) “Positron Emission Tomography, as a quantitative imaging modality, is an important tool in the development of drugs for CNS disorders…The value of this imaging modality has been increasingly recognized by the pharmaceutical companies, as evidenced by their entry into the radiotracer development area. It is expected that PET imaging will continue to have a substantial and growing impact on CNS drug development.”

Diabetes study demonstrates PET can aid in measuring insulin production ( release - 6/1/2012) - "A Yale University-led research team has developed a way to measure the loss of insulin-producing islet cells in the human pancreas. The death of those beta cells leads to diabetes. The finding is a crucial step in developing therapies to preserve insulin production and slow or halt the progress of diabetes. A synopsis of this study is also highlighted in Yale News (6/1/2012). The full research study appears in the June 2012 issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine."


Chi Liu, PhD named as YCCI Scholar. Assistant Professor Chi Liu was named as a Junior Faculty Scholar in 2011 by the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation.

Second preclinical PET scanner arrives in Yale PET Center. A second Focus-220 PET scanner for preclinical imaging was delivered in September 2011. This is the 5th scanner for the Yale PET Center and will allow a substantial increase in preclinical PET imaging.

New PET/CT scanner delivered to Yale PET Center. A Siemens mCT-X PET/CT scanner was delivered to the PET Center on August 1, 2011. This state-of-the-art time-of-flight scanner will be used for studies of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes.

Young Investigator Award at the 2011 Society of Nuclear Medicine Meeting. Jenna Sullivan, MS. received Young Investigator award at the 2011 SNM annual meeting in San Antonio, TX for a paper entitled Bolus vs. bolus/infusion of the mGluR5 tracer [18F]FPEB in humans. This presentations was amongst 14 oral and poster presentations given by PET Center faculty, staff, and students.

Young Investigator Bursaries were won by Rachael Sirianni, Ph.D, and Christine Sandiego, M. Phil, at the 2011 Brain/BrainPET conference

Ming-Qiang Zheng PhD has been invited to participate as part of the American delegation to the young professionals symposium at the Sino-American Conference on Nuclear Medicine, in Beijing, China, in February of 2011.

Four new hot cells were installed in the PET Radiochemistry lab. The radiochemistry lab now has 6 full-sized hot cells and 6 mini cells


Medical Imaging including PET featured in Yale School of Engineering and Applied Sciences 2010 Engineering magazine

New PET/CT scanner for Yale PET Center awarded from NIH. The Yale PET Center has been awarded a high-end instrumentation grant from the NIH (1S10RR029245-01) to purchase a research PET/CT scanner. This scanner will be added to the three scanners currently in the PET Center: the HRRT, the HR+, and the Focus-220.

Chi Liu, Ph.D., joined the Diagnostic Radiology Department of Yale University on August 1, 2010. Dr. Liu has expertise in PET and SPECT physics, including motion correction, image reconstruction, and system design.

Maria Corsi, MHS, CNMT, RT(N) has been appointed as a member of the Committee on Scholarships and Grants and the Professional Development and Education Foundation of the Society of Nuclear Medicine Technologist Section

Young Investigator Awards at the 2010 Society of Nuclear Medicine Meeting. Ming-Qiang Zheng, Ph.D. and Marc Normandin, Ph.D., each received Young Investigator awards at the 2010 SNM annual meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah. Ming-Qiang Zheng presented a paper entitled "[11C]LY2795050, An Antagonist Tracer for PET Imaging of the Kappa Opioid Receptors" in the Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry section. Marc Normandin presented a paper entitled "Test-retest reproducibility and gender differences in binding of CB1 PET tracer [11C]OMAR in humans" in the Neurosciences section. These two presentations were amongst 14 oral and poster presentations given by PET Center faculty, staff, and students.

Richard Carson, Ph.D., named to the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering. Richard Carson was inducted as a new member to the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering in a ceremony in Hartford in May 2010

Young Investigator Award at Molecular Neuroimaging Symposium. Rachael Sirianni, Ph.D., won first place and a travel award for her presentation at the Molecular Neuroimaging Symposium in Bethesda, MD, in April 2010. Her presentation was entitled "Development of dPET, a non-invasive imaging technique to measure the distribution of drugs after direct delivery to the brain"

Jenna Sullivan, a biomedical engineering grad student now working in the PET Center was selected as the Purdue University College of Engineering's nominee for the 2010 Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) Distinguished MS Thesis Award. The title of her thesis was "Small Animal PET for the Detection of Alcohol- or Cocaine-Induced Striatal Dopamine Release."


Evan Morris, Ph.D., joined the PET Center and the Diagnostic Radiology Department of Yale University on August 1, 2009. Dr. Morris has expertise in PET modeling and measurement of neurotransmitter dynamics.

Young Investigator Awards at the Brain'09/BrainPET'09 conference. Mika Naganawa, Ph.D., Giampaolo Tomasi, Ph.D., and Christine Sandiego, M.S. each received Young Investigator Bursaries for presentations at the 2009 International Symposium on Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism in Chicago, IL.


Richard E. Carson named one of 25 most influential in radiology by RT-Image. "Keep the change" — The old adage “The only constant is change” perfectly describes radiology, for the field is rife with new technologies, techniques, and theories. Richard E. Carson, PhD, educates others about these changes as professor of diagnostic radiology and biomedical engineering at Yale University, director of Yale’s PET Center, and as researcher. His dedication to education was recognized in 2008 when he received the Sheffield Distinguished Teaching Award from the Yale School of Engineering.


Dean's Workshop held November 30th, 2007. The impressive molecular imaging capabilities of the new state-of-the-art PET Center were featured at the Dean's Workshop on Friday, November 30th. The event, entitled, "A Window into the Body: Molecular Imaging with Positron Emission Tomography," was held in the Anlyan Center Auditorium

“New PET Center Will Aid Drug Development.” PET scans unveil biological processes in living human body. Although molecular medicine has made striking advances in recent years, for many diseases physicians are still stumbling in the dark, able to glean clues to a therapy’s effectiveness only by studying changes in symptoms.

Richard E. Carson, Ph.D. receives 2007 Kuhl-Lassen Award. The Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM) presented Richard E. Carson, Ph.D. with the Kuhl-Lassen Award for Brain Imaging on June 3, 2007. Dr. Carson, Professor of Diagnostic Radiology and Biomedical Engineering, and Acting Director of the Yale University PET Center, presented his award lecture, “Quantitative Neuroreceptor Imaging with PET: Madness in the Methods or Method to the Madness,” at the 54th Annual SNM meeting held in Washington, DC.

“PET Center Offers” new tools for diagnosis and treatment. At Yale’s new Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Center, researchers hope to bring light into this darkness by discovering novel diagnostic tools for otherwise hidden molecular abnormalities and speeding development of new medications.

“State-of-the-Art” Yale PET Center Opens January 18, 2007. New Haven, Conn. — A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the state-of-the-art Yale Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Research Center for molecular imaging takes place today at the Anlyan Center Auditorium, 300 Cedar St. more…

Yale PET Center Opens with President Levin and Pfizer CEO.