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Meixiang Max Yu, PhD

Associate Research Professor of Translational Imaging, Institute for Academic Medicine
Associate Research Member & Director, Cyclotron & Radiopharmaceutical Core, Research Institute
Houston Methodist
Weill Cornell Medical College


Dr. Yu graduated with a Ph.D. from Peking University in 1996. He completed his postdoctoral training in Nuclear Medicine and Pharmacolgy at Kupio University Hospital in Finland before taking a position as a Research Scientist at the Turku PET Center in Finland. In 2001, he joined the Harvard Medical School Radiology Department at Massachusetts General Hospital as a Research Scientist and Instructor before being appointed Associate Professor and Chief Radiochemist at the University of Tennessee in 2005. He was also the Senior Radiochemist at Banner Alxheimer's Institute in Phoenix, AZ from 2007 to 2009 before joining Houston Methodist in 2009. At the Research Institute, Dr. Yu oversees the design and operation of the cyclotron facility, which produces PET radiopharmaceuticals for clinical use in compliance with FDA cGMP (current good manufacture practice) regulations.

Description of Research

Dr. Yu's research focuses on molecular imaging biomarker development for translational medicine applications. Functional parameters from in vivo imaging include biodistribution, metabolism, receptor and transporter occupancy, as well as blood flow will be important in diseases diagnosis, stages and response evaluation. For these purposes, his team is developing PET and SPECT imaging tracers of pharmacological affects on glutamate receptors, dopamine transporters and receptors, and serotonin transporters and receptors, which are important in neurodegeneration diseases and psychiatry. In addition, as the Ccyclotron Operation/Radiochemistry Director, Dr. Yu supervises the Research Institute cyclotron facility design, including the installation and operation of the cyclotron, hot cells, radiochemistry synthetic modules, quality control instruments, and radiation safety monitoring. He also oversees the development of standard operation procedures for cyclotron operation, PET radiopharmaceutical production, quality control, and radiation safety.

Areas Of Expertise

PET tracer development and production Cyclotron operation Radiochemistry FDA cGMP regulation Radiopharmaceutical production
Education & Training

, ChinA Institute of Atomic Energy
, Department of Nuclear Medicine and Physiology, Kuopio University Hospital, Finland
, Peking University

Blood pressure is associated with higher brain amyloid burden and lower glucose metabolism in healthy late middle-age persons
Langbaum, JBS, Chen, K, Launer, LJ, Fleisher, AS, Lee, W, Liu, X, Protas, HD, Reeder, SA, Bandy, D, Yu, M, Caselli, RJ & Reiman, EM 2012, Neurobiology of Aging, vol 33, no. 4. DOI:

Using the artificial neural network to discriminate between normal controls with different APOE e4 genotypes and probable AD cases in PIB-PET studies
Ayutyanont, N, Chen, K, Villemagne, V, OKeefe, G, Liu, X, Reschke, C, Lee, W, Venditti, J, Bandy, D, Yu, M, Reeder, S, Rowe, C & Reiman, EM 2009, . in 2009 ICME International Conference on Complex Medical Engineering, CME 2009., 4906617, 2009 ICME International Conference on Complex Medical Engineering, CME 2009, Tempe, AZ, United States, 9-11 April. DOI:

Fibrillar amyloid-ß burden in cognitively normal people at 3 levels of genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease
Reiman, EM, Chen, K, Liu, X, Bandy, D, Yu, M, Lee, W, Ayutyanont, N, Keppler, J, Reeder, SA, Langbaum, JBS, Alexander, GE, Klunk, WE, Mathis, CA, Price, JC, Aizensteini, HJ, DeKosky, ST & Caselli, RJ 2009, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol 106, no. 16, pp. 6820-6825. DOI:

Facile synthesis of N-succinimidyl 4-[18F]fluorobenzoate ([ 18F]SFB) for protein labeling
Tang, G, Zeng, W, Yu, M & Kabalka, G 2008, Journal of Labelled Compounds and Radiopharmaceuticals, vol 51, no. 1, pp. 68-71. DOI:

Evaluation of four pyridine analogs to characterize 6-OHDA-induced modulation of mGluR5 function in rat brain using microPET studies
Zhu, A, Wang, X, Yu, M, Wang, JQ & Brownell, AL 2007, Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, vol 27, no. 9, pp. 1623-1631. DOI:

Recent developments of the PET imaging agents for metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 5
Yu, M 2007, Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry, vol 7, no. 18, pp. 1800-1805. DOI:

Modulation of dopaminergic and glutamatergic brain function: PET studies on parkinsonian rats
Pellegrino, D, Cicchetti, F, Wang, X, Zhu, A, Yu, M, Saint-Pierre, M & Brownell, AL 2007, Journal of Nuclear Medicine, vol 48, no. 7, pp. 1147-1153. DOI:

Dual-modality in vivo monitoring of subventricular zone stem cell migration and metabolism
Cicchetti, F, Gross, RE, Bulte, JWM, Owen, M, Chen, I, Saint-Pierre, M, Wang, X, Yu, M & Brownell, AL 2007, Contrast Media and Molecular Imaging, vol 2, no. 3, pp. 130-138. DOI:

Positron emission tomography of herpes simplex virus 1 oncolysis
Kuruppu, D, Brownell, AL, Zhu, A, Yu, M, Wang, X, Kulu, Y, Fuchs, BC, Kawasaki, H & Tanabe, KK 2007, Cancer Research, vol 67, no. 7, pp. 3295-3300. DOI:

Human radiation dosimetry of [11C]MeAIB, a new tracer for imaging of system A amino acid transport
Tolvanen, T, Någren, K, Yu, M, Sutinen, E, Havu-Aurén, K, Jyrkkiö, S, Asola, M, Kotoneva, E, Nuutila, P & Minn, H 2006, European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, vol 33, no. 10, pp. 1178-1184. DOI:

Methoxyphenylethynyl, methoxypyridylethynyl and phenylethynyl derivatives of pyridine: Synthesis, radiolabeling and evaluation of new PET ligands for metabotropic glutamate subtype 5 receptors
Yu, M, Tueckmantel, W, Wang, X, Zhu, A, Kozikowski, AP & Brownell, AL 2005, Nuclear Medicine and Biology, vol 32, no. 6, pp. 631-640. DOI:

Cerebral PET imaging and histological evidence of transglutaminase inhibitor cystamine induced neuroprotection in transgenic R6/2 mouse model of Huntington's disease
Wang, X, Sarkar, A, Cicchetti, F, Yu, M, Zhu, A, Jokivarsi, K, Saint-Pierre, M & Brownell, AL 2005, Journal of the Neurological Sciences, vol 231, no. 1-2, pp. 57-66. DOI:

Biodistribution and blood metabolism of 1-11C-methyl-4- piperidinyl n-butyrate in humans: An imaging agent for in vivo assessment of butyrylcholinesterase activity with PET
Roivainen, A, Rinne, J, Virta, J, Järvenpää, T, Salomäki, S, Yu, M & Någren, K 2004, Journal of Nuclear Medicine, vol 45, no. 12, pp. 2032-2039.

3-Nitropropionic acid-induced neurotoxicity - Assessed by ultra high resolution positron emission tomography with comparison to magnetic resonance spectroscopy
Brownell, AL, Chen, YI, Yu, M, Wang, X, Dedeoglu, A, Cicchetti, F, Jenkins, BG & Beal, MF 2004, Journal of Neurochemistry, vol 89, no. 5, pp. 1206-1214. DOI:

Selective COX-2 inhibition prevents progressive dopamine neuron degeneration in a rat model of Parkinson's disease
Sánchez-Pernaute, R, Ferree, A, Cooper, O, Yu, M, Brownell, AL & Isacson, O 2004, Journal of Neuroinflammation, vol 1, 6. DOI:

Mapping of brain function after MPTP-induced neurotoxicity in a primate Parkinson's disease model
Brownell, AL, Canales, K, Chen, YI, Jenkins, BG, Owen, C, Livni, E, Yu, M, Cicchetti, F, Sanchez-Pernaute, R & Isacson, O 2003, NeuroImage, vol 20, no. 2, pp. 1064-1075. DOI:

Radiolabeling and biodistribution of methyl 2-(methoxycarbonyl)-2-(methylamino) bicyclo [2.1.1] - hexane -5-carboxylate, a potential neuroprotective drug
Yu, M, Någren, K, Chen, YI, Livni, E, Elmaleh, D, Kozikowski, A, Wang, X, Jokivarsi, K & Brownell, AL 2003, Life Sciences, vol 73, no. 12, pp. 1577-1585. DOI:

Neurotoxicity-induced changes in striatal dopamine receptor function
Brownell, AL, Chen, IY, Wang, X, Yu, M & Jenkins, BG 2003, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, vol 991, pp. 281-283.

Brain acetylcholinesterase activity in mild cognitive impairment and early Alzheimer's disease
Rinne, JO, Kaasinen, V, Järvenpää, T, Någren, K, Roivainen, A, Yu, M, Oikonen, V & Kurki, T 2003, Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, vol 74, no. 1, pp. 113-115. DOI:

Regional effects of donepezil and rivastigmine on cortical acetylcholinesterase activity in Alzheimer's disease
Kaasinen, V, Någren, K, Järvenpää, T, Roivainen, A, Yu, M, Oikonen, V, Kurki, T & Rinne, JO 2002, Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, vol 22, no. 6, pp. 615-620. DOI: