Autumn 2010: Of Note

Scanner with scientist standing in front

Courtesy Baowei Fei

Double Vision

By Mary J. Loftus

When doctors decide that a patient needs both MRI and PET scans, they often schedule one a few weeks after the other.

Each technology provides essential information. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) shows details about the soft tissues of the body, such as every curve and indentation in the brain, while positron emission tomography (PET) records processes, including the amount of energy being used or blood flowing into a region.

The ideal would be a simultaneous scan that can provide both types of imaging. Four prototype MRI-PET hybrid scanners exist in the world, and one is at the Emory Center for Systems Imaging in the Wesley Woods Health Center.

“The combined system can provide opportunities for basic research and can open a new window to studying diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, drug addiction, cancer, and cardiovascular disease,” says Assistant Professor of Radiology Baowei Fei, a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Scholar.

Fei is working to develop and improve imaging software for the hybrid system.

“Once validated, each of these tools will help us make a better determination as to what is the disease and what is not, and if there have been even small changes over time,” Fei says. “This can have a big impact on patient care.”

In June, at the fifty-seventh Annual Meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine in Salt Lake City, Fei received the Young Investigator Award for his research. He also received a $100,000 Coulter Translational Research Award for the continuation of his work.