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Darko Pucar, MD, PhD

Associate Professor Term; Co-Director of Molecular Imaging Clinical and Translational Research Laboratory, Nuclear Medicine; Yale Radiology Thesis Committee Chair, Clinical Radiology; Yale Nuclear Radiology Residency Pathway Director, Nuclear Medicine

Contact Information

Darko Pucar, MD, PhD

Mailing Address

  • Radiology & Biomedical Imaging

    333 Cedar Street, New Have

    New Haven, CT, 06511

    United States

Research Summary

Molecular Imaging (MI) Clinical and Translational Research including radionuclide theranostic and therapy optimization and dosimetry, translation of molecular imaging and therapy agents into clinical practice via clinical trials, MI in cancer prognostication and treatment response assessment, generation of cancer prognostic models guiding therapeutic decision, cancer treatment response assessment for clinical trials, MI machine learning.

Extensive Research Description

My Ph.D. thesis cardiovascular research at Mayo Clinic determined the role of phosphotransfer enzymes in the protection against myocardial ischemia.

My Holman Radiology Residency Pathway oncologic imaging research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center established the value of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI) in detection of local prostate cancer recurrence after radiation therapy.

My current research at Yale has the objective to increase the value of nuclear medicine (NM) and molecular imaging (MI) in the management of cancer, neurologic disorders, and cardiovascular disorders, with a special emphasis on patient outcomes in oncologic imaging and radionuclide oncologic therapy. I am principal or co-investigator in the clinical trials, grants, and contract in these areas. My oncologic research aims to develop prognostic models, based on clinical and imaging parameters, for staging, treatment response, outcome prediction, and treatment selection in individual cancer patients (personalized medicine).

I am also co-director of Molecular Imaging Clinical and Translational Research Laboratory (MICTRL), which is a research branch of NM, with multi-facet mission aiming to deliver advanced MI and therapy care to Yale New Haven System patients with focus on MI theranostics and therapy practice and education. Theranostics in a new revolutionary NM approach in which the same molecular target is used to image and treat cancer using imaging and therapeutic radionuclides. Theranostics is expected to rapidly become a cornerstone of individualized precision medicine of the future. MICTRL activities include radionuclide theranostic and therapy optimization and dosimetry, translation of molecular imaging and therapy agents into clinical practice via clinical trials, MI in cancer prognostication and treatment response assessment, generation of cancer prognostic models guiding therapeutic decision, cancer treatment response assessment for clinical trials, MI machine learning, and MI education via MI radiology residency pathway and clinical and research fellowships.

Current projects include assessment of treatment response and side-effect with cancer immunotherapy on FDG PET/CT, and prognostication and treatment response of lung cancer, head and neck cancer and lymphoma on FDG PET/CT including machine learning.

We plan to create MICTRL radionuclide therapy databases for thyroid cancer, neuroendocrine tumors, and prostate cancer in the near future, which will allow us to plan therapy optimization and theranostics trials.

MICTRL has ongoing prostate cancer molecular imaging and therapy trials. We are just starting new brain tumor imaging trial. In addition, we plan to open imaging and therapy trials for neuroendocrine tumors, renal cancer, and other cancers.

Medical students and residents and fellows of all specialties are welcome to participate in MICTRL. If interested pleased contact me at darko.pucar@yale.edu. I also serve as the Yale Radiology Thesis chair, overseeing medical student radiology research at Yale.

Research Interests

Cardiovascular System; Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted; Diagnostic Imaging; Digestive System; Nervous System; Nuclear Medicine; Radiotherapy; Respiratory System; Urogenital System; Therapies, Investigational; Precision Medicine; Clinical Decision-Making

Public Health Interests

Bioinformatics; Biomarkers

Research Images

Clinical Trials