Molecular Imaging Program


The CQCI utilizes many different resources for the development of novel imaging compounds and quantitative imaging analysis research.  The different resources are located in various labs and locations throughout the University campus and are listed below:

Inveon microPET/SPECT/CT
Bruker BIO SPEC 70/30 USR 7T MRI Scanner
VisEn FMT 2500TM (Fluorescence Molecular Tomography)
Zenogen IVIS 100 Bioluminescent Imager
HM 560 CryoStar
BAS-5000 Image Analysis System

Inveon microPET/SPECT/CT

Inveon microPETThe animal imaging studies performed as part of this project will be conducted on the Inveon system. The Inveon Multimodality System is a versatile platform for laboratory animal CT, SPECT, and PET studies on a single integrated gantry. Our system has the dockable PET gantry option. This hardware option provides the necessary components to dock the Inveon Dedicated PET Scanner with the Inveon Multimodality SPECT/CT scanner. In the docked mode, the two scanners can operate independently or as a single multi-modality system under the control of a single workstation. The device is built on the new Siemens Inveon acquisition architecture, which fully integrates each modality into a common data acquisition system for automatic transition between modes and seamless coordination of CT, SPECT and PET data acquisition. The system is configured as an ultra-high resolution preclinical CT scanner, a high resolution, high sensitivity preclinical SPECT scanner or as a dual modality preclinical SPECT/CT scanner.

The CT component of the device has a large area165 mm X-ray camera. It incorporates a high resolution, low noise, 14-bit x-ray imaging detector with 4064 x 4064 pixels for larger rodents.
The Inveon 2-Head SPECT Module is a high resolution 3D functional imaging system for laboratory animal studies. Designed to efficiently detect gamma rays ranging in energy from 30 keV to 250 keV, The SPECT system is ideal for use with most single photon emitting radionuclides. The two large area detectors (15 cm X 15 cm) support whole animal studies as well as high magnification studies. The system includes an extensive suite of collimators, including multi-pinhole collimators.

The system includes a benchtop anesthesia system for small animals. The system includes a new precision Cyprane Tec 3 style vaporizer, rodent (mice and rats) anesthesia induction chamber. The system has two mounted toggle switches controlling two separate anesthetic gas lines; one to the rodent (mice and rats) anesthesia induction chamber and the other to a nonrebreathing circuit or auxiliary equipment. The physiological monitoring system simultaneously monitors and generates TTL trigger signals from 3 standard input channels for respiration, temperature and ECG.A high performance 64-bit workstation controls the Inveon multimodality scanner,

The system includes two Inveon Research Workplace Workstations. This allows for multimodality image review, fusion and analysis. The viewing station is designed to enable efficient research producing repeatable and reliable analysis results. The workstation supports CT, PET, SPECT and MR data in DICOM, and Siemens Inveon CT, PET and SPECT formats, as well as raw data import. The data browser makes it easy to import and manage data using industry-standard DICOM communication protocols, data can be directly sent to and received from a host of other DICOM enabled devices including acquisition systems and storage solutions. Direct import features make it simple to locate data stored on local and network-linked devices. The analysis workflows provide a wide range of easy-to-use tools. Analysis of static, gated and dynamic data is supported with up to three different data sets being loaded simultaneously. These may be registered together using rigid and affine algorithms, as appropriate. A wide range of manual, predefined and semi-automated region of interest creation techniques allow quantitative analysis of the data, including visualization of time activity curves and line profiles. Image data can be exported in DICOM format while graphs and image snapshots can be captured to the clipboard or as image files and numerical data can be exported as text files.

Bruker BIOSPEC 70/30 USR 7T MRI Scanner

Bruker BIOSPEC 70-30The BioSpec 70/30 MRI scanner is a multipurpose system for high-resolution MR spectroscopy and imaging.

  • The scanner operates at 7 T, and has a warm bore diameter of 30 cm.
  • The zero-helium-boil-off and nitrogen-free UltraShield Refrigerated (USR) system reduces cryogen maintenance to every 2 years.
  • The scanner is equipped with the same high-quality digital electronics found in Bruker's analytical spectrometers (AVANCE), and a versatile, user-friendly front-end interface (Paravision), a wide repertoire of built-in, ready-to-use pulse sequences and pre-defined protocols, and a robust development environment for custom programming.

The BioSpec scanners are the most widely used laboratory animal scanner in the world, and the hardware and software interchangeability makes it possible and easy to exchange investigative protocols between studies among individual users.

The instrument is ideal for the following purposes:

  • 2D and/or 3D high-resolution anatomical imaging
  • Diffusion and diffusion tensor imaging
  • Flow imaging
  • Cardiac imaging
  • Dynamic contrast imaging
  • Functional MRI, chemical shift imaging and localized spectroscop

The BioSpec 70/30 system at the University of Utah Small Animal Imaging Facility has the following features:

  • Two water-cooled, high-performance gradient sets (a 20 cm inner-diameter and a 12 cm inner-diameter set capable of 300 and 600 mT/m peak amplitude)
  • Multi-nuclei RF electronics
  • 4-channel receiver for multi-coil operation.

The operating console has recently been upgraded to Paravision 5.0, which features the following:

  • Built-in parallel acquisition
  • Push-button GRAPPA reconstruction
  • EPI, navigator techniques for motion reduction
  • Ultra-short TE acquisition
  • Half-Fourier encoding
  • Self-gated IntraGate
  • Real-time display of acquired and reconstructed data
  • Sophisticated data archiving including DICOM export
  • Enhanced 2D and 3D data visualization

RF hardware includes the following features:

  • ZStandard 1H quadruture volume transmit-receive coils
  • Surface coils (multiple nuclei and sizes)
  • Phased array coils

The facility has dedicated specimen preparation rooms, an in-house electronics lab for constructing and testing custom RF coils, and a second Paravision workstation and license for off-line development and data analysis.
For more information, view the Bruker website.

VisEn FMT 2500™ (Fluorescence Molecular Tomography)

VisEn FMT 2500The FMT 2500™ (Fluorescence Molecular Tomography) system is a quantitative fluorescence in vivo imaging system designed for preclinical imaging and data analysis. Unlike two-dimensional planar imaging systems, the FMT 2500 delivers quantification of disease progression and therapeutic efficacy while delivering real time 3-dimensional tomographic data. The system makes use of a rasterscanning laser to transilluminate mice or rats and then collects vast arrays of absorption and fluorescence data from multiple source and detector projections.

The FMT 2500 system generates\three-dimensional tomographic images and quantified data outputs. Through the laser raster scanning technology the FMT 2500 performs the acquisition of quantitative data enabling the use of optical imaging not only for 2D-planar (photographic) and quantitative 3D imaging as well. The system uses high power near-infrared laser diodes at 635, 670, 745 and 785 nm for 4-channel excitation to maximize tissue penetration depth within the animal with reduced auto-fluorescence and permit multiplexed analysis of biological pathways. This enables the use of the system to perform multiplexing analysis and allows the user to check multiple biological processes with quantitative analysis.

The FMT 2500 in vivo imaging system collects positional information in a sensitive CCD detector by scanning the animal with powerful NIR lasers. The resulting dataset of up to 100,000 projections is reconstructed to generate three-dimensional tomographic images and quantitative analysis. The FMT 2500 uses algorithms to reconstruct fluorescent signal from deep within the animal providing accurate fluorescence quantification in defined regions of interest with sub-millimeter spatial resolution. The FMT 2500 performs an imaging scan of a living animal in 2-4 minutes. Three dimensional data sets are also acquired and compiled in the same time frame, enabling rapid image analysis and quantification (minutes per animal).

The device includes a suite of analytic software, offline software, several site licenses, animal preparation and anesthesia equipment. This allows high-throughput workflow. In addition imaging cassettes were purchases which allow for multi-modality image fusion for quantitative multimodality imaging with the INVEON micro-PET/SPECT/CT and the Brukker 7T MRI. The system is optimized for use with VisEn’s broad range of biological process-specific fluorescent in vivo imaging agents and a VisEn FMT 2500 fluorescence imaging system.

Xenogen IVIS 100 Bioluminescent Imager

Xenogen IVIS100The IVIS Imaging System 100 Series from Caliper Life Sciences is a sensitive and large field of view imaging system that offers users the flexibility to image fluorescent and/or bioluminescent reporters both in vivo and in vitro.

The system is based on Xenogen's patented optical imaging technologies to facilitate non-invasive longitudinal monitoring of disease progression, cell trafficking, and gene expression patterns in living animals.

The system offers the following features:

  • An adjustable field of view of 10-25 cm, allowing five mice or two large rats to be imaged
  • A 25 mm (1.0 inch) square back-thinned, back-illuminated CCD, which is cryogenically cooled to –90°C via a closed cycle refrigeration system to minimize electronic background and maximize sensitivity
  • A patented and light-tight, low background imaging chamber which allows the IVIS 100 to be used in a standard lab lighting environment
  • Specimen handling features such as a heated sample shelf, gas anesthesia connections, and an optional full gas anesthesia system.

The system is highly automated with all hardware motor movement, imaging parameters, and image analysis controlled via the Living Image® software.

Molecular, Cellular, and Tissue Biology Lab (Basic Sciences Lab)

The research laboratory for molecular, cellular and tissue biology for the Center for Quantitative Cancer Imaging and the Utah Center for Advanced Imaging Research (UCAIR), under the direction of Kathryn A. Morton, MD, is located in the Imaging & Neurosciences Center, 729 Arapeen Drive, Salt Lake City, UT 84108. Imaging & Neurosciences Center is located in a University of Utah Research Park, which is approximately 5 minutes by car or frequent campus shuttle from the University of Utah Medical Center. Most of the Department of Radiology physicists, engineers and students are located at the Imaging & Neurosciences Center, and there are a variety of both clinical and research imaging resources at this site. The lab employs two full time research associate scientists and consists of 3000 sq ft of space containing a suite of rooms that include 5 chemical fume hoods, a dark room, a room for animal manipulation, a tissue culture room, a large digital imaging equipment room, storage space, and two offices. Equipment within the molecular and cellular biology lab includes 2 CO2 incubators, a laminar flow hood, 5 vented fume hoods, level 2 biological safety cabinet, phase contrast microscope, inverted microscope with fluorescence, -80oC electric freezer, four -200C freezers, bench space for at least 10 individuals to work simultaneously, shaking water baths, vacuum, air, table model refrigerated centrifuge, floor model high-speed and ultra-centrifuges, several high speed microcentrifuges, several analytical balances, 7 standard sinks, a deionized HPLC-grade water system, several recirculating water baths, microwave oven, 2 table-top shakers, a large volume air shaker, hybridization oven, ultraviolet cabinet for cross-linking nucleic acids to membranes, homogenizer, sonicator, several fraction collectors, several peristaltic pumps, several magnetic stirrers/hot plates, many analytical pipettors, units for both horizontal, vertical and 2D gel electrophoresis, several power supplies, electrophoretic and vacuum transfer units, small flourimeter for DNA quantification, a unit for TCA precipitation of proteins, chromatography columns with stands, cell harvester, spectrophotometric and fluorescence microtiter plate readers, scanning spectrophotometer, autoclave, convection oven, radioisotope dose calibrator, gamma well counter, liquid scintillation counter, electroporation device, conventional RT and real time PCR units, Speedvac, gel-dryer, bacteriological incubator, glassware, miscellaneous laboratory supplies and shields for radiation protection. Each of the individuals in the lab has a high end computer, with shared photo-quality color printer and digital scanner, as well as full software support for molecular biology, genetic, statistical, and image manipulation applications. The lab also contains a Fuji BAS-5000 phosphor imager (digital autoradiography), a Fuji LAS-3000 digital fluorescence imager, a fluorescence microsocope with camera, and appropriate analytical software. There is a Zeiss cyromictrotome for histopathological preparation. Additional research equipment in this lab is a new anesthesia machine for halothane and blood gas analytical equipment. In the same building, and adjacent to the Center for Quantitative Cancer Imaging Basic Science lab, is an Animal Research Facility annex, with full facilities and space for housing and manipulation of small animals.

HM 560 CryoStar

HM 560 CryoStarThe basic sciences laboratory has a Microm HM560 CryoStar for specimen preparation. This cryomicrotome is an electronic, motorized cryostat with retraction that incorporates a unique refrigeration system for independent specimen and knife cooling.

Other features include:

  • Separate knife temperature control to -35°C
  • Object temperature separately controlled to -50°C
  • Integrated Peltier to -60°C
  • Section thickness from 0.5 to 100µm
  • Automatic Cryo Approach (ACA) system for exact and safe approach of specimen towards the knife
  • Automatic cutting window

BAS-5000 Image Analysis System

BAS-5000The Center for Quantitative Cancer Imaging has as part of its basic science imaging infrastructure a Fuji BAS-5000 Phosphor imager. This device offers extremely high resolution (25 μm) and image quality. It uses Fujifilm’s unique confocal laser and light-collecting optics. The BAS-5000 is amenable to fine-structure studies of a wide variety of tissue samples. With a dynamic range up to five orders of magnitude and a pixel size as small as 25 μm, the system allows for very high-resolution quantitative autoradiography studies. The system can provide rapid scan times. A 20 x 25 cm Imaging Plate can be scanned at 50 μm in as little as five minutes. The system includes software for region of interest (ROI) analysis and quantitative assessment of tracer accumulation. The system can image all PET isotopes as well as C-14 and tritium. The system also has the capabilities to perform various optical based assays including 2D electrophoresis and thin layer chromatography.