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October 2010 Issue

Lisa Lemen, PhD (left), imaging physicist for the preclinical imaging lab and associate professor of radiology
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Core Preclinical Imaging Facility Opens at Vontz

By Amanda Harper
Published October 2010

The UC College of Medicine has added a dedicated preclinical imaging center to its roster of shared research resources: the Vontz Core Imaging Lab (VCIL).


Located in the Vontz Center for Molecular Studies, the preclinical imaging center offers non-invasive imaging services, performed on some of the most advanced equipment available. Any researcher affiliated with UC can apply to use the facility for approved research protocols. 


A collaboration between the departments of radiology and cancer and cell biology, the VCIL is equipped with multimodal systems tailored specifically for use in small animals and capable of 3D imaging and nuclear medicine techniques, including computed tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PET), single photon emission tomography (SPECT), X-ray,fluorescence and bioluminescence.


Lisa Lemen, PhD,  imaging physicist for the preclinical imaging facility and an associate professor of radiology, says the facility opens up significant possibilities to expand the level of biomedical research conducted at UC and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.


"The multimodal system is optimized for preclinical imaging, so we’re applying the same imaging techniques used to diagnose human disease and scaling it down for use in small animals,” says Lemen. "The result is more refined, informative data about anatomy and physiology to inform research studies.”


The systems are also equipped with  fully integrated anesthesia and  bio-monitoring tools to closely track vital signs during testing. This allows for more precise image acquisition. For example, a subject’s respiratory rate can be tracked during cardiac imaging studies so that—as in clinical testing in humans—image timing is adjusting for movement. 


"The multimodal system allows us to capture multiple types of images without having to move the subject,” adds Kathleen LaSance, who manages day-to-day operation of the facility.

 "During processing, the different types of images can be superimposed to allow researchers to correlate physiologic and anatomic data relative to the study.”


The VCIL’s services are expected to be particularly useful for cancer and cardiovascular diseases, two of the College of Medicine’s core research focus areas.   


Funding to purchase the equipment and establish this new core facility came from the Ohio Board of Regents.

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