Nuclear medicine has profoundly contributed to improve clinical management of many complex diseases. It is a highly multi-disciplinary specialty that develops and uses instrumentation and radiopharmaceuticals to provide important quantitative functional information about normal tissues or disease conditions in living subjects. In a nuclear medicine scan, a radiopharmaceutical is administered to study physiological processes and non-invasively diagnose, stage, and treat diseases.
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Positron emission tomography (PET) produces a three-dimensional image of radionuclide distribution making use of the unique decay physics of positron-emitting radionuclides. For example, the radiopharmaceutical sugar analgoue fluorine-18-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) detects differences in the consumption of glucose. It is used widely in cancer diagnostics, as rapidly proliferating cancer cells consume considerably larger amounts of glucose than healthy cells.
Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) obtains three-dimensional images from gamma-emitting radionuclides including technetium-99m, iodine-123, and thallium-201. SPECT is used extensively to study cardiac health and blood flow to various organs including the brain.
If you are interested in multidisciplinary research with a clear vision towards translating your results into clinical practice the Division of Nuclear Medicine may offer you excellent opportunities. Please explore our research portfolio and contact any of our principal investigators directly for current opportunities. We greatly appreciate applications from highly motivated individuals with a strong track record and the aim to advance their academic career.
Genetic and molecular analysis has revealed that phenotypically similar diseases contain several distinct subtypes. Therefore, medical decisions should be precisely tailored to the individual patient, instead of a one‐drug‐fits‐all model. For many diseases different therapeutic options exist, which exploit distinct molecular vulnerabilities and the challenge is to devise diagnostic pipelines to reliably stratify patients for the appropriate drug.
For such a personalized medicine approach, specific molecular nuclear imaging probes are an invaluable asset and therefore molecular imaging is a modality-of-choice for personalized treatment planning. However, current know-how, operations and evidence do not yet permit to fully incorporate molecular PET and SPECT imaging for detailed patient selection and therapy adjustments. Closing this gap is a focus of current clinical and pre-clinical research at the Division of Nuclear Medicine at the MUW.
Increasingly complex and high-performance imaging equipment necessitate an active interdisciplinary environment of clinicians and natural sciences. Therefore, nuclear medicine offers in particular physicists a wide field of activity with crucial contributions to advance research and improve patient care. The strong scientific engagement of the clinical department with research staff provides the environment to advance nuclear imaging technologies with the aim to incorporate them better into clinical decision making.
Rapid improvements in computational technologies continue to push medical imaging technology development and deployment. Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies such as machine learning (ML) are already revolutionizing medical imaging with improved productivity and accuracy. Currently, ML is used in the analysis of labour-intensive histological analysis successfully improving on disease diagnosis by medical professionals. From this work it has become clear that current diagnostics produce complex datasets holding unresolved information, which may be explored with computer aided tools. Thus, we actively explore with our collaboration partners how computational approaches to analyse multidimensional patient data including PET images may support clinical decision making for improved stratification of patients.