Invited speakers

Abhijit Chaudhari (UC Davis, USA)

Abhijit J. Chaudhari, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Radiology at the University of California Davis. He also serves at the Director of the UC Davis Center for Molecular and Genomic Imaging (CMGI) and is a Core Scientist with the California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC) and Co-Leader of the Multimodal Imaging Core there. Dr. Chaudhari’s research spans preclinical and clinical imaging, quantitative imaging science, and medical image processing, with specific focus on musculoskeletal and neurologic diseases. He was the recipient of the IEEE Bruce H. Hasegawa Young Investigator Medical Imaging Science Award in 2011 and a US National Institutes of Health Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health Scholar between 2013-2018. Dr. Chaudhari received his Bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering from the University of Pune, India, and his Master’s degree (in Applied Mathematics) and PhD degree (in Electrical Engineering), both from the University of Southern California, USA.

Adriana Tavares (University of Edinburgh, UK)

Dr Adriana Tavares graduated from the School of Health Technology of Porto (ESTSP-IPP), Portugal, with a Nuclear Medicine BSc (Hons.) degree in 2007. She has worked for over 12 years in clinical and preclinical radionuclide imaging and obtained a Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto, Portugal, in 2009, as well as, a PhD degree in radiotracer development from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Glasgow, UK, in 2011. Post-completion of her PhD, Dr Tavares took on a position as Image Processing Analyst and later Imaging Consultant at Molecular NeuroImaging (MNI), New Haven, USA. Currently she is the Head of the Preclinical Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography (PET/CT) Laboratory at Edinburgh Preclinical Imaging (EPI) and a Research Fellow in PET Imaging at the University of Edinburgh. Her research interests include the development and application of novel selective PET radiotracers for non-invasive imaging of inflammation, angiogenesis, fibrosis and myelination; as well as, the development of new methods of analysis and quantification of total-body PET imaging datasets. To support her research interests, over the past five-years, she has secured close to £4M grant funding as principal investigator or co-investigator. She has authored two book chapters and fifty-one refereed publications. Her work featured in various press releases, including the most recent one on a new PET biomarker for imaging cardiovascular inflammation. She serves as reviewer for various journals, funding bodies and international congresses, including, for example, the World Molecular Imaging Congress (WMIC), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism (JCBFM). She is the co-chair of the STANDARD group of the European Society of Molecular Imaging (ESMI), founder of the “PET is Wonderful” group, member of the Molecular Imaging Committee of the Scottish Imaging Network: A Platform for Scientific Excellence  (SINAPSE), and organiser of various scientific meetings, including, “PET is Wonderful” Annual Scientific Meeting 2018 and 2019, and Total-Body PET 2020.

Elisabeth de Vries (University Medical Centre Groningen, Netherlands)

Prof. dr. E.G. Elisabeth de Vries, MD, PhD is a Professor of Medical Oncology at the University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands. She is involved in patient care, teaching, and research. She actively promotes the view that a multidisciplinary approach with close interactions between the laboratory and the clinic is crucial for improving prospects for cancer patients. Her focus is on interdisciplinary, translational research, aiming for personalized medicine. She uses imaging techniques to support this.

Apart from laboratory studies, she performs and coordinates clinical trials. She has received numerous grants. She is currently co-chair of the RECIST committee on behalf of the EORTC and she is chair of the Cancer Medicine Committee of ESMO.

In 2002, she was appointed as a member of the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). She received the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) award in 2009. She is Fellow of the European Academy of Cancer Sciences. She was awarded a Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences professorship in 2011.

Francois Villinger (University of Louisiana at Lafayette, USA)

Dr. Villinger’s research focuses on the characterisation of the immune response against infectious diseases (HIV, EBV, Zika, dengue and more) with a major focus on SIV/SHIV infection of non-human primates as models of human HIV infection. The study emphasise mechanisms of pathogenesis tied to disruption of the gut homeostasis, the exploration of strategies to restore immune and effective antiviral immune responses following SIV infection using combination of antiviral treatment, immunisation, immune therapies and adoptive transfer of T cell effectors, and disruption of cell traffic. His research also focuses on HIV vaccines and microbicide based prevention methods to block mucosal HIV acquisition. As part of this work, together with Dr. Santangelo (GATECH), he has developed novel immunoPET/CT based approaches to map viral replication in real time, interrogate immune events and track the traffic of vaccine in vivo, as a set of tools to better interrogate virus persistence and immune mechanisms in nonhuman primate models of human disease and therapies.

Frank Bengel (Hanover Medical School, Germany)

Dr. Bengel is the Director of the Department of Nuclear Medicine at Hannover Medical School in Germany. He received his medical degree from the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen / Germany and pursued training in Nuclear Medicine and Nuclear Cardiology at the Technical University of Munich / Germany, under the mentorship of Dr. Markus Schwaiger. He joined the faculty of the Technical University in Munich in 2002, before moving to Johns Hopkins University in Dec 2005. At Johns Hopkins, Dr. Bengel served on the faculty as an Associate Professor of Radiology and Medicine and as the Director of Cardiovascular Nuclear Medicine for 5 years. On Jan 1st, 2011, he started his term as the Director of Nuclear Medicine at Hannover Medical School.

Dr. Bengel has contributed pioneering scientific work to the field of positron emission tomography and molecular imaging. His research focus has been on the development and implementation of molecular-targeted imaging approaches for specific characterization of biologic mechanisms and for monitoring of novel gene- and cell-based therapies in the cardiovascular system. He holds several honorary positions on boards of national and international societies active in molecular imaging.

Joel Karp (University of Pennsylvania, USA)

Dr. Karp is Professor of Radiologic Physics in the Department of Radiology, and in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Chief of the Physics and Instrumentation Research Group in Radiology and directs Nuclear Medicine/PET Physics and QC in the clinic, as well as the Small Animal Imaging Facility Nuclear Medicine (PET/SPECT/CT) core. He received his PhD in nuclear physics from MIT in 1980 and joined the faculty at Penn in 1983, and since then his research has focused on investigations to improve and characterize the performance of PET technology, including front-end electronics, detector design, data correction techniques, and 3D image reconstruction algorithms. This work has resulted in development of fully 3D PET scanners and innovative imaging systems based on various scintillation detectors, and some of these concepts have been implemented commercially for human and animal imaging. Dr. Karp has developed systems for time-of-flight (TOF) imaging, and his work with industry led to adoption of TOF in modern PET/CT scanners. Dr. Karp collaborates with UC Davis as part of the Explorer Consortium and is leading the team at U Penn in the development of the large axial FOV PennPET Explorer whole-body imager and its application to new clinical and research investigations. 

Nicolas Tournier (INSERM/CEA, Centre Hospitalier Frédéric Joliot, France)

Nicolas Tournier (PhD, PharmD) is a radiopharmacist and pharmacologist specialized in pharmacokinetics. He joined the Service Hospitalier Frédéric Joliot (Orsay, France) in 2010 with the aim to use PET imaging for pharmacology. He is now team leader in the BioMaps research unit at Paris Saclay University. The team promotes the clinical translation of original imaging probes and systems. Their work builds upon the concept of pharmacological and pharmacokinetic imaging. They use radiolabeled analogues of drugs to study the impact of membrane transporters on tissue distribution and elimination, and estimate the corresponding risk of drug-drug interactions. To that end, the team benefits from a translational and multidisciplinary, making the best with recent developments in radiochemistry, medical physics, molecular imaging, nuclear medicine and pharmacokinetics.

Patricia Price (Imperial College London, UK)

Pat Price is an academic clinical oncologist specialising in PET based molecular imaging, advanced radiotherapy techniques and translational research in oncology.

She pioneered the use of PET molecular imaging for micro-dosing pharmacokinetic and pharmacokinetic studies of new cancer agents and has one of the best insights into the potential of the application of this technology for oncology drug development.

In collaboration with the University of California, Davis, USA, Pat Price has advised on the projected oncology research applications of the World’s first Total Body PET Scanner-EXPLORER Total-body imaging.Pat Price established the European Organization for the Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) Functional Imaging group, developing strategic links between oncologists and imagers and guidelines for PET in clinical trials. She has networked research collaborations with leading academic cancer researchers and service deliverers in the UK and has advised in Europe, the USA and pharma. She has raised more than £20M in research funding, co-founded the Wolfson Molecular Imaging Centre with Prof Terry Jones at the University of Manchester and has also trained 22 clinical research fellows in experimental medicine to research degree level (including 8 international awards).

Roel van Holen (Ghent University, Belgium)

With over 15 years of experience as a medical imaging scientist, Roel Van Holen is passionate about creating value in the medical imaging market. He started the businesses MOLECUBES and XEOS Medical, developing and commercializing medical imaging scanners for the preclinical and clinical market. With a solid background in basic research he knows how to translate fundamental research into valuable products. Starting as CTO at MOLECUBES, he knows very well his way in product development and product-market fit. Today he is leading both companies with a focus is on building teams, strategy and operations. He holds a part-time position as Associate Professor at Ghent University where he teaches Master classes on Radiologic Techniques and Medical Imaging and provides guidance for PhD research in medical imaging.

Simon Cherry (UC Davis, USA)

Professor Cherry develops novel technologies and methods for quantitative biomedical imaging. The Cherry Lab focuses on molecular imaging using positron emission tomography (PET) scanning; in particular developing faster and more sensitive detection technologies. The laboratory has developed technologies with widespread applications for improving diagnosis, stratifying patients for treatment and assessing response to that treatment. The team is currently studying pathologic processes that involve multiple organs systems or the entire body. Dr. Cherry co-leads the EXPLORER project, a collaboration with several colleagues to develop the world’s first total-body PET scanner.

Stefaan Vandenberghe (Ghent University, Belgium)

Stefaan Vandenberghe obtained his MSc in Physics in 1996 and an additional degree in Biomedical Engineering in 1997 from KU Leuven. After working in the nuclear medicine department of the University Hospital Ghent (1997-1999) he started a Ph.D. in the MEDISIP group of the University of Ghent. His research was on the optimal configuration of gamma cameras for PET imaging and on list-mode reconstruction techniques for PET systems. He received a Ph.D. (Engineering) from this university in 2002. During his FWO postdoctoral research he worked on rotating slat systems (with solid state detectors) Monte Carlo simulations and natural pixel reconstruction. In 2004 he joined Philips Research USA (Briarcliff) to work as a Senior Scientist in the Clinical Site Program. The position was at the University of Pennsylvania (Dr. Joel Karp) in Philadelphia. During this period he worked on simulations, reconstructions and measurements for Time-Of-Flight PET systems (LaBr3 and LYSO). At the end of 2005 he returned to Belgium (return grant) in the MEDISIP group. In collaboration with different researchers in the group a variety of topics is covered: Monte Carlo simulations, rotating slat SPECT, Time-of-Flight PET, PET-MRI and quantification for radionuclide dosimetry. He has been appointed as full time research professor (BOF-ZAP) at UGent since October 2007 and leads the MEDISIP research group since 2008.  He co-authored about 100 scientific A1 journal papers and is co-inventor of four patents. He was Associate Editor of IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science (till 2017) and involved in the organization of conferences and workshop on PET-MR and SPECT-MR. During the last years his research has focused on the development of attenuation correction and PET system design simulations for PET-MR in two EU-FP7 projects Hyperimage and Sublima.  Together with Christian Vanhove he leads the small animal molecular imaging facility (Infinity) of Ugent. The detector technology and micro SPECT and PET prototypes of the MEDISIP research group have led to the creation of the spinoff company Molecubes. Since 2017 he is also the editor-in-chief of EJNMMI Physics and coordinates together with the Nuclear medicine unit the Innovative Imaging and Therapy Consortium of Ghent university and its hospital (Imitghent.be)

Terry Jones (UC Davis, USA)

Professor Terry Jones is a medical physicist who has been involved in the development and applications of positron emitting radioisotopes in medicine since 1968. When at the former Medical Research Council’s, Cyclotron Unit, at Hammersmith Hospital, London, he initiated the UK’s first PET program in the late 1970’s. He undertook developments in PET methodology which included collaborations with industrial manufacturers of PET scanners. Together with medical colleagues at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School at Hammersmith Hospital, he fostered the research applications of PET methodology in Neurology, Psychiatry, Oncology, Cardiology and Pulmonary Medicine. He was awarded an MRC travelling fellowship in 1972 to work at the University of Washington St Louis and the MGH in Boston, where he recorded the first image of human brain metabolism by using oxygen-15.

To support pre-clinical studies, he established one of the first dedicated small–animal PET scanner. At the MRC Cyclotron Unit, he rose to the position of acting director and professor of medical physics at Imperial College London. He then went on to co-establish the state-of-the-art PET based Wolfson Molecular Imaging Centre at Manchester University where he was professor of Molecular Imaging. He has co-authored over 300 scientific publications. He is a fellow of the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine and in 1999 was elected as a fellow of the UK’s Academy of Medical Science. He is currently visiting professor at the University of California, Davis and co-director of the PET Research Advisory Company. Currently he is engaged in identifying and fostering the clinical research applications of Total Body PET Scanning. In 2019, he delivered the bi-annual Anger Lecture at the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging’s annual meeting, and was the recipient of the IEEE NMISC Edward J Hoffman Medical imaging Scientist Award for ‘Contributions to the development of PET methodology and its applications in clinical research’.