Ciprian Catana, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, Integrated MR-PET Imaging Laboratory
Massachusetts General Hospital
The focus of my career has been on advancing simultaneous positron emission tomography and magnetic resonance imaging (PET/MRI) toward meaningful clinical human use. Specifically, my efforts have concentrated on developing and validating this novel technology, on identifying and implementing methods to best exploit the combined quantitative data and, working closely with dozens of basic science researchers and physician-scientists, on applying these tools to studies in various patient populations. I was the PI of two projects aimed at using multimodal imaging for studies in brain tumor and Alzheimer’s disease patients . These projects gave two Harvard Biophysics PhD students opport unities to conduct research at the interface between physical and biological sciences. We have recently started to develop a very high performance 7T MR - compatible dedicated brain PET scanner. Our objective is to build a PET camera with >10x improved sensitivity to enable dynamic PET imaging of brain neurotransmission, neuromodulation, and other dynamic molecular events with unprecedented temporal resolution and beyond state-of-the-art spatial resolution. Such a device will lead to transformative advances in our understanding of healthy-brain neurochemistry, physiology, and function, and open new insights into the pathophysiologic interrelation between structure and function involved in disorders of the central nervous system. Recently, our group also started to explore the benefits of using PET/MRI technology for cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases as well as whole-body oncological applications. As one example, I am currently leading an academic-industrial partnership funded by NIH-NCI aimed at developing and translating machine learning approaches to improve the characterization of primary prostate cancer.
PET/MRI is an imaging modality deeply rooted into physics currently used for numerous research and clinical applications. Over the last decade, Harvard Biophysics students have contributed to the development of quantitative PET/MRI methods and worked closely with neuroscientists to apply these tools to study the brain. We are now developing a next generation device to describe the human brain’s dynamic “neurochemical connectome”. This project will give current students the unique opportunity to develop the hardware/ software and perform the first human studies to show the capabilities of this novel device, and will attract future students interested in performing transformative neuroscience research.
Charlestown, MA 02129