Cancer Imaging Program

The Cancer Imaging Program (CIP) is led by Arthur F. Gmitro, PhD, Professor of Radiology and Optical Sciences and Evan C. Unger, MD, Professor of Radiology. It is supported by a Biotechnology Resource Grant from the Center for Gamma Ray Imaging (5P41EB002035, P.I. Harrison H. Barrett, PhD, renewed in 2009).

The overall goal of the CIP is to use the tremendous power of imaging technologies, imaging methods and imaging applications to help accomplish the primary mission of the UACC, which is to prevent and cure cancer. The CIP seeks to accomplish its goal by: 1) advancing fundamental knowledge in image science as it relates to cancer; 2) developing, applying and validating imaging technologies as tools in the study of basic cancer biology, 3) improving the sensitivity and specificity of early cancer detection through advanced imaging methods; and 4) developing and implementing more effective cancer therapies using imaging biomarkers and image-guidance.

The Cancer Imaging Program has outstanding research projects exploring all of the major types of imaging—nuclear and x-ray imaging, magnetic resonance imaging, optical imaging and ultrasound imaging—as well as the development of advanced imaging contrast agents.

>>Collaborations and Membership

A key component to the Imaging Program is its translational aspects. An interdisciplinary team of researchers works together to take new imaging techniques and discoveries into the clinic. Projects include new ways to measure tumor response by CT, MRI and ultrasound, ways to improve reader efficiency and accuracy and FDA-approved diagnostic imaging agents.

Accurate Diagnosis

Harrison H. Barrett, PhD, is using nuclear imaging to achieve earlier and more accurate diagnosis of neoplastic lesions, or abnormal proliferations of cells. Dr. Barrett is creating improved cameras and new ways to achieve and display 3D image data and he’s using miniature hand-held probes to achieve more accurate estimations of the extent of tumors. The goal is that these new techniques will improve surgical oncology staging for patients.

The Right Treatment


Marty Pagel, PhD, is advancing imaging techniques to allow early assessment of treatments in individual patients. By being able to evaluate therapeutic response early during the course of treatment using a particular type of MRI scan, ineffective therapy can be stopped and an alternative treatment applied. This will save patients from the side effects of ineffective therapies and allow them to receive an effective therapy for their disease.

Early Detection

Jennifer Barton, PhD, is conducting pioneering work in optical coherence tomography. This new noninvasive technique uses a harmless beam of light to penetrate a few millimeters of tissue and reflect back. The resulting images are similar to ultrasound, but with much higher resolution—in some cases, showing details of single cells. The goal is to determine whether optical coherence tomography can be used to detect cancer when it is most curable.