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Masahiro Fujita, MD, PhD

Research Professor of Neurology, Academic Institute
Full Research Member, Research Institute
Director, Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Core, Research Institute
Houston Methodist
Weill Cornell Medical College

Positron Emission Tomography (PET)


Dr. Masahiro Fujita is PET Core Director for the Translational Imaging Center and Chair of the Radiation Safety Committee at Houston Methodist Research Institute. Dr. Fujita is a world-renowned expert on brain molecular imaging using positron emission tomography (PET) with expertise in the evaluation of PET tracers and kinetic analysis. Using PET, Dr. Fujita aims to guide the development of novel therapies by bridging expertise in basic and clinical sciences.

Dr. Fujita earned MD and PhD from Osaka University, Japan, in 1987 and 1992, respectively. In Japan, he earned board certification in nuclear medicine and diagnostic radiology and also obtained qualification as Type-1 Radiation Protection Supervisor. Prior to joining HMRI, Dr. Fujita held positions of Staff Scientist at National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health from 2002 to 2018 and Assistant Professor at Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine from 1999 to 2002.

Description of Research

Dr. Fujita has made significant contributions to advance knowledge on brain disorders by imaging and discovering pathological changes in brain molecules. Increasing number of basic studies have shown that neuroinflammation is a key player in many brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and major depressive disorder. Dr. Fujita has done pioneering research studies to detect neuroinflammation by imaging translocator protein using PET. Dr. Fujita has also discovered abnormalities in signal transduction inside of cells and the correction by antidepressants in major depressive disorder. By collaborating with clinical and basic scientists within and outside of Houston Methodist, Dr. Fujita visualizes molecules, which are used as novel markers of disease status and therapeutic effects or as targets for novel therapies.

Areas Of Expertise

Molecular imaging Brain imaging Positron emission tomography Image quantification
Education & Training

PhD, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine
MD, Faculty of Medicine, Osaka University

First-in-human evaluation of [11C]PS13, a novel PET radioligand, to quantify cyclooxygenase-1 in the brain
Kim, MJ, Lee, JH, Juarez Anaya, F, Hong, J, Miller, W, Telu, S, Singh, P, Cortes, MY, Henry, K, Tye, GL, Frankland, MP, Montero Santamaria, JA, Liow, JS, Zoghbi, SS, Fujita, M, Pike, VW & Innis, RB 2020, , European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, vol. 47, no. 13, pp. 3143-3151.

PET Imaging of Phosphodiesterase-4 Identifies Affected Dysplastic Bone in McCune-Albright Syndrome, a Genetic Mosaic Disorder
Weidner, LD, Wakabayashi, Y, Stolz, LA, Collins, MT, Guthrie, L, Victorino, M, Chung, J, Miller, W, Zoghbi, SS, Pike, VW, Fujita, M, Innis, RB & Boyce, AM 2020, , Journal of nuclear medicine : official publication, Society of Nuclear Medicine, vol. 61, no. 11, pp. 1672-1677.

Discovery, Radiolabeling, and Evaluation of Subtype-Selective Inhibitors for Positron Emission Tomography Imaging of Brain Phosphodiesterase-4D
Wakabayashi, Y, Telu, S, Dick, RM, Fujita, M, Ooms, M, Morse, CL, Liow, JS, Hong, JS, Gladding, RL, Manly, LS, Zoghbi, SS, Mo, X, DAmato, EC, Sindac, JA, Nugent, RA, Marron, BE, Gurney, ME, Innis, RB & Pike, VW 2020, , ACS Chemical Neuroscience, vol. 11, no. 9, pp. 1311-1323.

PET measurement of cyclooxygenase-2 using a novel radioligand: Upregulation in primate neuroinflammation and first-in-human study
Shrestha, S, Kim, MJ, Eldridge, M, Lehmann, ML, Frankland, M, Liow, JS, Yu, ZX, Cortes-Salva, M, Telu, S, Henter, ID, Gallagher, E, Lee, JH, Fredericks, JM, Poffenberger, C, Tye, G, Ruiz-Perdomo, Y, Anaya, FJ, Montero Santamaria, JA, Gladding, RL, Zoghbi, SS, Fujita, M, Katz, JD, Pike, VW & Innis, RB 2020, , Journal of Neuroinflammation, vol. 17, no. 1, 140.

[11C](R)-Rolipram positron emission tomography detects DISC1 inhibition of phosphodiesterase type 4 in live Disc1 locus-impaired mice
Ooms, M, Tsujikawa, T, Lohith, TG, Mabins, SN, Zoghbi, SS, Sumitomo, A, Jaaro-Peled, H, Kimura, Y, Telu, S, Pike, VW, Tomoda, T, Innis, RB, Sawa, A & Fujita, M 2019, , Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, vol. 39, no. 7, pp. 1306-1313.

Imaging of renal cell carcinoma in patients with acquired cystic disease of the kidney: comparison 11 C-choline and FDG PET/CT with dynamic contrast-enhanced CT
Kitajima, K, Yamamoto, S, Kawanaka, Y, Katsuura, T, Fujita, M, Nakanishi, Y, Yamada, Y, Hashimoto, T, Suzuki, T, Go, S, Kanematsu, A, Nojima, M & Yamakado, K 2019, , Japanese Journal of Radiology, vol. 37, no. 2, pp. 165-177.

Evaluation of two potent and selective PET radioligands to image COX-1 and COX-2 in rhesus monkeys
Kim, MJ, Shrestha, SS, Cortes, M, Singh, P, Morse, C, Liow, JS, Gladding, RL, Brouwer, C, Henry, K, Gallagher, E, Tye, GL, Zoghbi, SS, Fujita, M, Pike, VW & Innis, RB 2018, , Journal of Nuclear Medicine, vol. 59, no. 12, pp. 1907-1912.

3-Substituted 1,5-Diaryl-1 H-1,2,4-triazoles as Prospective PET Radioligands for Imaging Brain COX-1 in Monkey. Part 2: Selection and Evaluation of [11C]PS13 for Quantitative Imaging
Shrestha, S, Singh, P, Cortes-Salva, MY, Jenko, KJ, Ikawa, M, Kim, MJ, Kobayashi, M, Morse, CL, Gladding, RL, Liow, JS, Zoghbi, SS, Fujita, M, Innis, RB & Pike, VW 2018, , ACS Chemical Neuroscience, vol. 9, no. 11, pp. 2620-2627.

Assessment of tumor response to chemoradiotherapy and predicting prognosis in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma by PERCIST
Katsuura, T, Kitajima, K, Fujiwara, M, Terada, T, Uwa, N, Noguchi, K, Doi, H, Tamaki, Y, Yoshida, R, Tsuchitani, T, Fujita, M & Yamakado, K 2018, , Annals of Nuclear Medicine, vol. 32, no. 7, pp. 453-462.

11 C-DPA-713 has much greater specific binding to translocator protein 18 kDa (TSPO) in human brain than 11 C-(R)-PK11195
Kobayashi, M, Jiang, T, Telu, S, Zoghbi, SS, Gunn, RN, Rabiner, EA, Owen, DR, Guo, Q, Pike, VW, Innis, RB & Fujita, M 2018, , Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, vol. 38, no. 3, pp. 393-403.

Building a database for brain 18 kDa translocator protein imaged using [11C]PBR28 in healthy subjects
Paul, S, Gallagher, E, Liow, JS, Mabins, S, Henry, K, Zoghbi, SS, Gunn, RN, Kreisl, WC, Richards, EM, Zanotti-Fregonara, P, Morse, CL, Hong, J, Kowalski, A, Pike, VW, Innis, RB & Fujita, M 2019, , Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, vol. 39, no. 6, pp. 1138-1147.

PET radioligand binding to translocator protein (TSPO) is increased in unmedicated depressed subjects
Richards, EM, Zanotti-Fregonara, P, Fujita, M, Newman, L, Farmer, C, Ballard, ED, Machado-Vieira, R, Yuan, P, Niciu, MJ, Lyoo, CH, Henter, ID, Salvadore, G, Drevets, WC, Kolb, H, Innis, RB & Zarate, CA 2018, , EJNMMI Research, vol. 8, 57.

Comparison of two PET radioligands, [11C]FPEB and [11C]SP203, for quantification of metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 in human brain
Lohith, TG, Tsujikawa, T, Siméon, FG, Veronese, M, Zoghbi, SS, Lyoo, CH, Kimura, Y, Morse, CL, Pike, VW, Fujita, M & Innis, RB 2017, , Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, vol. 37, no. 7, pp. 2458-2470.

CAMP signaling in brain is decreased in unmedicated depressed patients and increased by treatment with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
Fujita, M, Richards, EM, Niciu, MJ, Ionescu, DF, Zoghbi, SS, Hong, J, Telu, S, Hines, CS, Pike, VW, Zarate, CA & Innis, RB 2017, , Molecular Psychiatry, vol. 22, no. 5, pp. 754-759.

11C-ER176, a radioligand for 18-kDa translocator protein, has adequate sensitivity to robustly image all three affinity genotypes in human brain
Biomarkers Consortium Radioligand Project Team 2017, , Journal of Nuclear Medicine, vol. 58, no. 2, pp. 320-325.

Comparison of four 11C-labeled PET ligands to quantify translocator protein 18 kDa (TSPO) in human brain: (R)-PK11195, PBR28, DPA-713, and ER176—based on recent publications that measured specific-to-non-displaceable ratios
Fujita, M, Kobayashi, M, Ikawa, M, Gunn, RN, Rabiner, EA, Owen, DR, Zoghbi, SS, Haskali, MB, Telu, S, Pike, VW & Innis, RB 2017, , EJNMMI Research, vol. 7, 84.

The PET radioligand 18F-FIMX images and quantifies metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 in proportion to the regional density of its gene transcript in human brain
Zanotti-Fregonara, P, Xu, R, Zoghbi, SS, Liow, JS, Fujita, M, Veronese, M, GladDing, RL, Rallis-Frutos, D, Hong, J, Pike, VW & Innis, RB 2016, , Journal of Nuclear Medicine, vol. 57, no. 2, pp. 242-247.

Plasma radiometabolite correction in dynamic PET studies: Insights on the available modeling approaches
Tonietto, M, Rizzo, G, Veronese, M, Fujita, M, Zoghbi, SS, Zanotti-Fregonara, P & Bertoldo, A 2016, , Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, vol. 36, no. 2, pp. 326-339.

Improved models for plasma radiometabolite correction and their impact on kinetic quantification in PET studies
Tonietto, M, Veronese, M, Rizzo, G, Zanotti-Fregonara, P, Lohith, TG, Fujita, M, Zoghbi, SS & Bertoldo, A 2015, , Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, vol. 35, no. 9, pp. 1462-1469.

Neuroinflammation in temporal lobe epilepsy measured using positron emission tomographic imaging of translocator protein
Gershen, LD, Zanotti-Fregonara, P, Dustin, IH, Liow, JS, Hirvonen, J, Kreisl, WC, Jenko, KJ, Inati, SK, Fujita, M, Morse, CL, Brouwer, C, Hong, JS, Pike, VW, Zoghbi, SS, Innis, RB & Theodore, WH 2015, , JAMA Neurology, vol. 72, no. 8, pp. 882-888.