Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Translational Imaging

Department of Translational Imaging

Imaging and Molecular Imaging

Recruiting Scientific Leaders:


Chair, Department of Translational Imaging

The Department of Translational Imaging is committed to the advancement of medical imaging technology to drive innovative diagnostics and therapy for 21st century patient care. The department aims include the development of novel molecular imaging agents and other devices and technologies to diagnose disease, guide procedures, monitor therapeutic response, and treat disease with greater specificity and sensitivity. A multidisciplinary group of highly qualified scientists and researchers in molecular pathology, molecular biology, synthetic chemistry, radiochemistry, image processing, and imaging physics work together as a team to advance imaging technology, focusing on the translation of laboratory breakthroughs into clinical practice. The following are descriptions of the activities in the department: 


Molecular Pathology and Biology: This program focuses on characterizing tissues at the molecular level and exploring new gene function. General molecular biology technologies, such as DNA cloning, PCR, Western/Northern blots, antibody phage display library, expression and purification of antibody and its fragments and antibody biological assays are carried out routinely. Team members have expertise in gross and histologic evaluation of clinical tissues, immunohistochemical procedures, laser capture microdissection, and in-situ hybridization.


Bioinformatics: The program focuses on developing advanced computational bioinformatics tools, biomedical imaging informatics tools, and systematic modeling tools for biomarker and drug-target discovery, drug resistance mechanism discovery, and drug delivery studies to improve clinical research. Bioinformatics and data analysis support is also provided for other investigators. The research can be classified into three major categories: bioinformatics, systems biology, and biomedical imaging informatics.


Molecular Probes: This program focuses on synthesis of novel therapeutic and imaging contrast agents for preclinical and clinical studies. The major goals include a) providing approved PET tracers for routine clinical imaging, b) synthesizing experimental imaging agents for clinical trials, and c) developing novel molecular imaging probes. There is expertise in PET, SPECT, optical, MRI, and ultrasound contrast agents as well as nanoparticles for drug delivery and imaging. The team is operating a cGMP laboratory with the capability to produce F-18, O-15, N-13, C-11 and Cu-64 PET tracers for clinical imaging.


Imaging Physics and Processing: This program focuses on developing a novel ultrasound system for delivering high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) to facilitate drug delivery and tissue ablation. This section also collaborates with other team members to manage and implement both clinical and animal MRI/MRS research protocols. There is ample experience and expertise in using and developing innovative MR imaging and spectroscopy techniques. Researchers collaborate with other team members to devise, validate and implement new statistical, resolution recovery image reconstruction algorithms and methods for multi-modality image registration in small preclinical models and in humans. The team is also in charge of multi-modality human and small preclinical imaging systems.


Molecular and Multimodality Image Guided Treatment: The opportunities and challenges in the next few decades in biomedical research lie in the incorporation of the knowledge gained from molecular biology with chemistry, physics, engineering, information technology, and nanotechnology to understand pathophysiological complexity and to develop novel diagnostic and therapeutic methods. The purpose of this initiative is to use molecular imaging techniques plus robotics, image processing, magnetic tracking, and image guided delivery of energy, molecular targeted drugs and other therapeutic agents in personalizing treatment of patients using minimally invasive techniques.