Recent Seminars

Gordon Lecture: Chemogenetics and Biobehavioral Imaging Integration Using PET


Dr. Juan Gomez is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in Baltimore, Maryland. At NIDA, Dr. Gomez helped design and set up a new laboratory space integrating PET imaging and behavioral neuroscience modalities. His doctoral research was conducted with Dr. Victoria Luine at Hunter College, where he studied interactions between alcohol exposure and stress in rodents and received his Ph.D. from The Graduate Center of CUNY in 2012. Below is his presentation summary.

Dr. Gomez delivering his lecture

The use of chemogenetic technologies has produced minimally invasive techniques to modulate specific brain structures and/or neural networks in research animals and potentially in humans. Utilizing these methods has provided a boon in behavioral testing that does not involve the hindrance of movement restricting devices. Assisted by PET, Dr. Gomez's lab has characterized the mechanism of action of existing chemogenetic ligands used for activating virally implanted “designer” receptors. Data gathered from these experiments has led to novel revelations about the mechanism of action of popular chemogenetic technologies and more recently to synthesis of novel chemogenetic actuators and PET ligands with high affinity and efficacy for established chemogenetic receptors. Their goal is to leverage the availability of such minimally-invasive neuromodulation technologies with biobehavioral PET imaging methods to study pertinent behavioral neuroscience questions.

Gordon Lecture: Development of High Resolution PET Scanners with Depth Encoding Detectors


Prof. Yongfeng Yang got his Ph.D from Kyushu University, Japan in 2001. From 2002-2014 he worked at Prof. Simon Cherry’s lab at Department of Biomedical Engineering, UC Davis as postdoctoral fellow and project scientist. He has been a professor at Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences since 2015. His research interests focus on instrumentation and application of positron emission tomography. The research of his lab is currently supported by Chinese National Science Foundation and Shenzhen City. Below is his presentation summary.

Depth of interaction uncertainty of the traditional PET detectors is solely the biggest obstacle for small animal and brain PET scanners to achieve high sensitivity and high spatial resolution simultaneously. In this presentation, first Dr. Yang presented his previous work on developing dual-ended readout depth encoding PET detectors with position sensitive APDs and developing a high resolution dedicated mouse brain PET scanner. Then the current work of his lab on developing MRI compatible small animal and brain PET scanners by using dual-ended readout detectors with SiPMs will be presented.

Gordon Lecture: Development of Copper(II)-Mediated Methods for PET Imaging Applications


Ms. Katarina J. Makaravage completed her B.S. in Chemistry at Appalachian State University in 2014. She is currently completing her PhD at the University of Michigan under the direction of Prof. Melanie Sanford. She has focused on developing new methodologies for PET imaging applications in collaboration with Prof. Peter Scott from the University of Michigan Radiology Center. Ms. Makaravage was the guest speaker at a lecture organized by the MGH Gordon Center. Below is her presentation summary.

Most positron emission tomography (PET) imaging studies are performed with fluorine-18 as the positron emitting radionuclide. Creating a C(sp2)–F bond is difficult, but several late-stage methods have been developed that overcome the challenges presented by this transformation. Unfortunately, translating methods for making natural C(sp2)–19F bonds to forging radioactive C(sp2)–18F moieties is not trivial due to several factors that will be discussed. The first section of this talk focused on the development of organometallic reagents commonly employed in the PET community to make C(sp2)–18F bonds. The starting materials required for these methods are frequently utilized, making the incorporation of this new methodology an easier transition. The second segment of this presentation discussed the application of these methodologies to improve the overall synthesis of 4-[18F]fluoro-m-hydroxyphenethylguanidine ([18F]4F-MHPG), a cardiac imaging agent currently going through clinical trials. Ms. Makaravage's talk addressed several challenges her group faced during the development of these methods, their current status, and future methodological developments.

Gordon Lecture: Multi-modality imaging of brain tumors and cardiovascular infections


Dr. Mirwais Wardak is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Radiology at Stanford University. Dr. Wardak’s research focuses on quantitative molecular imaging, biomedical modelling, cardiac stem cell therapy, and machine learning. Dr. Wardak was the guest speaker at a lecture organized by the MGH Gordon Center. Below is his presentation summary.

Dr. Wardak highlighted results from two projects.

The first project involves a human trial with a brain tumor imaging agent called [18F]FSPG. [18F]FSPG is a glutamate analog tracer developed for PET imaging of system xC- transporter activity, which plays an important role in cell growth, tumor progression and drug resistance of several cancers.

He also showed results from a new PET tracer that they have developed in the Gambhir Lab which is able to specifically image bacterial infections in the body (both Gram+ and Gram-).

MGH Gordon Lecture: Intellectual Property


The conference introduced the Partners Innovation office and presented the process of academic technology commercialization.
Presenters discussed the different forms of intellectual property such as copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets and patents.

Dr. Seema Basu, Director of Licensing and Strategic Collaborations at Partners Innovation, discussed the different conditions that an invention needs to meet in order to become patentable such as novelty, originality and absence of prior art. Dr. Basu and her colleagues also discussed the exclusion rights of a patent, the internal invention disclosure process and how a patent application is filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Seema Basu, Ph.D.
Director of Licensing and Strategic Collaborations
As Market Sector Leader, Seema Basu, PhD, directs the strategy for open innovation and strategic research collaborations. She leads a team responsible for enabling strategic corporate alliances and new initiatives, such as the Innovation Fellows Program for career development and collaboration with industry.  The team also manages licensing and partnering of IP portfolios from Regenerative Medicine, Ragon Institute of MGH,MIT and Harvard, and MGH Center for Global Health. She represents Partners at numerous national and regional organizations.

Heonick Ha, Ph.D.
Senior Licensing Manager 
Heonick is in the Radiology Market Sector working with the Martinos Center and other units of MGH Radiology. Heonick has managed an important portfolio of complex inventions and achieved significant outcomes while fostering enduring relationship with large global corporations. 

Brian Zamarron, Ph.D.
Licensing Manager
Brian is responsible for managing and licensing technologies arising from BWH Radiology, MGH Molecular Imaging, and MGH Nuclear Medicine. 

Seema Basu and her colleagues before their presentation on intellectual property.

Gordon Lecture: Clinically Applicable Deep Learning in Radiology and Ophthalmology


James Brown, Ph.D., is a research fellow at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital. His background and interests include medical image analysis, computer vision and machine learning. Dr. Brown was the guest speaker at a lecture organized by the MGH Gordon Center. Below is his presentation summary.

Deep learning (DL) has reinvigorated public discourse about artificial intelligence and its role within our society. As of September 2018, there were 13 “AI-based” algorithms approved by the FDA that operate on a wide range of imaging modalities. Dr. Brown gave a broad overview of deep learning and how it relates to other kinds of machine learning. He also presented two applications of DL that are beginning to make some impact in their respective clinical domains: retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a leading cause of preventable childhood blindness, and glioblastoma (GBM), an aggressive primary brain tumor that carries a poor prognosis. Dr. Brown also presented his group's open-source software package – DeepNeuro – that has been developed to make DL more accessible to clinical communities and reproducible by all.

Gordon Lecture: Nanoparticles in Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment


Dr. Alexandre Detappe is Instructor in Medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Visiting Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Detapp was the guest speaker at a lecture organized by the MGH Gordon Center. Below is his presentation summary.

Dr. Alexandre Detappe delivering his presentation at the MGH Gordon Center

Ultrasmall nanoparticles, and more specifically silica-based gadolinium nanoparticles (SiGdNP) demonstrated their ability to act as multimodal imaging agent (PET, MRI, CT) and therapeutic agents. These nanoparticles have been originally designed to act as MRI contrast agents and radiation therapy boosters. Validated preclinically in a wide selection of animal models, SiGdNP have demonstrated to be safe, non-toxic, and highly efficient radiosensitizers. These nanoparticles are currently being tested in a Phase II clinical trial to treat brain metastases. In addition, their imaging ability makes them efficient imaging biomarkers.

Dr. Detappe has focused his efforts on developing a novel imaging biomarker for early detection of Multiple Myeloma - a blood cancer - for which it was demonstrated that an early diagnostic could significantly improve the therapeutic outcomes of the patients’ treatments. In this optic, SiGdNPs were conjugated with monoclonal antibodies to improve their specificity and avoid unwanted accumulation. However, for some patients for whom the disease already degraded their kidneys, inorganic MRI contrast agents cannot be used.

To address this challenge, Dr. Detappe and his colleagues developed a novel metal-free MRI contrast agent that offers the same quality of information than usually observed. The design of this novel polymer also allowed the easy conjugation to a large selection of drugs, in order to decrease the usually observed side effects that arise when using free drugs. As a result, we developed a novel targeted platform for multimodal imaging that can also be used as therapeutic.


Molecular Pathology in Aging and AD


Dr. Aaron Schultz, PhD, Neurology, is a multi-modal neuroimaging researcher focused on aging. He is a co-leader of the Harvard Aging Brain Study (HABS) data core and advanced imaging project, as well as the leader of the functional neuroimaging group for the A4 clinical trial. Dr. Schultz was the guest speaker at a lecture organized by the MGH Gordon Center. Below is his presentation summary.  

Dr. Shultz before his lecture at the MGH Gordon Center

Dr. Schultz discussed his recent work on post-acquisition PET measurement optimization and cross-tracer harmonization. More specifically, his presentation covered his research on aging and AD in the context of molecular pathologies of amyloid-beta and paired helical filament tau. The lecture was followed by a debate of the success and challenges of functional connectivity MRI in the context of aging, AD molecular pathology, and cognitive decline.