Next frontiers in radio chemistry: personalized medicine for infectious disease

Manel Errando is one of five faculty leads on an Incubator for Transdisciplinary Futures award to develop cross-disciplinary training and technology advancement in infectious disease imaging.

A gamma-ray detector being assembled in Errando's lab

Next Frontiers in RadioChemistry: Personalized Medicine for Infectious Diseases is a research cluster focused on the development of cross-disciplinary team-based training and technology advancement in the area of infectious disease imaging that spans the Departments of Chemistry, Physics and Biology on Danforth campus as well as the Medical School (Radiology, Pathology & Immunology, Molecular Microbiology). Infectious diseases are a persistent and growing threat to human health. Although viral diseases have received much attention recently, bacteria remain problematic, especially with the rise of antibiotic resistance and the emergence of new pathogens. It is critical that we develop imaging tools that enhance their study in laboratory setting, facilitate diagnosis in the clinic, and guide treatment to improve outcomes. This effort engages researchers, clinicians and students from across the institution to establish Washington University at the forefront of molecular imaging in this space. Course offerings, community and industrial interactions, and innovative research efforts in models of pernicious bacterial infections will be supported by this cluster.

The immediate goal of the program is to develop radiopharmaceutical compounds to enable antibiotic-based PET imaging and early detection of bacterial infections. Expertise in the Department of Physics (faculty lead Errando) on imaging gamma-ray detectors will support the development of new PET imaging tools. The cluster will also provide additional learning and research opportunities for physics students interested on medical imaging by way of a new graduate-level course on Radiotheranostics and increased access to medical school resources and facilities in Physics 435 - Nuclear and Radiochemistry Laboratory.

The cluster has been selected for an Incubator for Transdisciplinary Futures Award, one of the signature initiatives in the new Strategic Plan of the school of Arts & Sciences.

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