Physics & Instrumentation Group

Physics & Instrumentation

Penn has a long history of develpment of nuclear medicine instrumentation in both SPECT and PET dating back to the pioneering work of David Kuhl, MD, in the 1970s. The Nuclear Medicine Physics and Instrumentation Research Group strives to continue this tradition in an environment that encourages the development of new technology and the collaboration between basic scientists and clnicans to evaluate new instruments and optimize their use for new applications in both clinical and pre-clinical (animal) imaging situations.

The group's research in PET instrumentation development spans basic detector design and modeling to system design and image evaluation. Our lab includes equipment to build, test and characterize detectors for PET imaging. In addition, the laboratory operates a cluster of high-powered Linux computers, which reconstruct, process, and analyze imaging data. Most recently, faculty have empasized development of time-of-flight technology, which increases the signal-to-noise of reconstructed images for whole-body studies. Faculty also conduct research on SPECT imaging with an emphasis on applications to small animal and brain imaging. The Nuclear Medicine Phyiscs and Instrumentation research Group also oversees the operation of the cyclotron and imaging probe synthesis facilities.

At right, the images show a comparison of time-of-flight (TOF) reconstruction with non-TOF reconstruction. A representative transverse slice in the abdomen is shown, along with corresponding low-dose CT image. TOF is particularly beneficial for heavy patients, as demonstrated in this study that shows increased lesion uptake with TOF. This patient with colon caner is 119 kg and was scanned using 18F-FDG with a PET/CT scanner that utilizes technology developed at Penn.