Overview of Our Research

The Wang Lab in the Department of Radiology at the UC Davis Medical Center is focused on the theory and practice of parametric imaging with dynamic positron emission tomography (PET). Our research approach commonly integrates (1) multidimensional data acquisition (e.g., 4D space-time data) with (2) design of computational imaging algorithms (including tracer kinetic modeling, image reconstruction, and machine learning), and (3) discovery of quantitative parametric imaging biomarkers to enable clinically efficient and effective imaging methods in human diseases. By developing advanced PET parametric imaging algorithms and translating them for clinical applications, we can make molecular imaging better, cheaper, safer, and more informative in the clinic.

Current Research Topics

1. Molecular Transport Imaging of Radiotracers

Most radiotracers for PET imaging are utilized to assess their equilibrium and end-product characteristics (e.g. glucose metabolism or ligand-receptor binding). The intermediate transport processes of a radiotracer (e.g., the rate of transport across cell membranes) are much less explored but they may differ in health and disease. We develop dynamic PET imaging and tracer kinetic modeling approaches to enable novel parametric PET techniques for assessing the molecular transport properties of a radiotracer and translate these methods to address unmet clinical needs in major diseases, such as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), heart disease, and cancer.


2. Total-Body PET Kinetic Modeling

The advent of EXPLORER total-body PET scanners makes it possible to perform simultaneous dynamic imaging of the entire body, enabling kinetic quantification of organs and diseases. This opens many opportunities to study the systemic responses and interactions of multiple organs in various diseases such as cancer and heart disease.  We focus on addressing the kinetic modeling challenges in total-body dynamic PET imaging to explore the full clinical and research potentials.

Educational lecture slides on Total-body PET Kinetic Modeling at Total-Body PET 2021-2022, Edinburgh, Scotland.

3. PET-enabled Spectral CT

We explore a novel concept based on PET/CT physics and advanced image reconstruction algorithms to enable dual-energy or multi-energy spectral CT imaging using combined PET and CT scanning. This PET-enabled spectral CT method can add a new dimension of tissue composition information on top of existing PET/CT functional imaging without costly hardware upgrades or increasing radiation exposure. Novel applications of this technique are being explored for PET parametric imaging.


Funding Acknowledgements:




and start-up funds from the UC Davis School of Medicine and Cancer Center.