Nuclear Medicine and Molecular imaging

Develop and validate new molecular imaging applications. We bridge the gap between basic science and clinical applications. Department
We are one of the oldest nuclear medicine institutes in the Netherlands and in the world. In the mid-fifties of the 20th century Prof. Martien G. Woldring was asked to evaluate the possibilities of radioactive substances in medicine. Apart from patient care and education, our Department of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging has a large research program.

Our research focuses on the development and validation of new molecular imaging applications. Molecular imaging research has a highly multidisciplinary character and requires the contribution of many specialists, including chemists, pharmacists, physicists, biologist and physicians. All of these disciplines are present in the scientific staff of the department.

Our main research topics 

  • In oncology; imaging of drug targets in e.g. breast and prostate cancer, application of radiolabeled monoclonal antibodies, imaging of neuroendocrine tumors with radiolabeled neurotransmitter precursors and therapy planning for radiotherapy.
  • In cardiology; the imaging of vulnerable arteriosclerotic plaques, myocardial perfusion and sympathic innervation.
  • In Neuroscience; imaging of molecular processes in neurodegenerative diseases, psychiatric and stress-related disorders.
  • Inflammation; imaging of brain inflammation, inflammation research also addresses imaging of immune cells and detection of (fungal) infections.

Visit nuclear medicine and molecular imaging

Relevance

How our research benefits to society

  

  • A large portfolio of PET tracers – including a number of unique tracers – is already available for studies in both animals and humans. 

    We have established close contacts with various clinical departments. In collaboration with a wide range of clinicians, the department of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging aims to bridge the gap between basic science and clinical applications in joint translational research projects. This has already led to the successful implementation of new molecular imaging applications in clinical routine.

  • The Department of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging has established structural international research collaborations with academic partners in -amongst others- Brazil (Sao Paulo), Mexico (Mexico City), Japan (Tokyo), China (Beijing), South-Africa (Stellenbosch/Cape Town) and Italy (Rome, Bari). To stimulate the scientific output, two visiting professors, A. Signore (inflammation research) and H. Zaidi (physics) have been appointed.

  • Besides collaboration with academic partners, the Department of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging also participates in structural precompetitive research collaborations with industries. But the department is also equiped for contract research (work-for-hire) and has done so for various pharmaceutical industries. For this purpose, state-of-art equipment and laboratory facilities (GMP) are available. Contract research is often performed with one of the CRO’s (PRA and QPS) that are present on the premises of the hospital.

  • We are one of the oldest nuclear medicine institutes in the Netherlands and in the world. In the mid-fifties of the 20th century that Prof. Martien G. Woldring was asked to evaluate the possibilities of radioactive substances in medicine. 

  • One of the first options to be used in medicine was the then new Radioactive Immuno Assay (RIA) for in vitro measurements. In the course of the 1960’s first a meandering NaI detector for in vivo measurements and later a gamma camera was acquired together with the 99mTc generator. All these in vitro and in vivo diagnostic measurements were carried out in the very former Clinic for Internal Medicine of the ‘General and Provincial Academic Hospital’ as the UMCG was called in those days.

  • In 1972 a new research group, headed by Prof. W. Vaalburg, was started exploiting the potential of cyclotron produced radionuclides in research and clinical medicine using the then recently available cyclotron of the nuclear physics research institute KVI.

    This combined research of the Organic Chemistry Department, the KVI and the hospital also led to the development of dual headed gamma camera systems operating in coincidence: “Poor men’s PET”. All together this research was rather successful and led to the design of a complete new PET Center in the new hospital.

    In the beginning of 1991 the PET Center started its work as an independent entity. In 2005 a new professorship in Nuclear Medicine was created for a combined new department and Prof. Rudi Dierckx was appointed as the new head of the combined Department of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging. Funding for a µPET, µCT and a µSPECT was acquired. And new clinical equipment (SPECT, SPECT/CT, PET/CT) was installed in 2009/2010. Also a GMP facility was built for the production of positron emitting radiopharmaceuticals In 2013 the renewal programme was completed with the acceptance of a new 18 MeV proton cyclotron.