Preclinical Animal Imaging

Kurt Zinn, D.V.M, Ph.D. – Director

Hyunki Kim, Ph.D. – Assistant Director

Contact: (205) 975-6414



The facility was established to enable UAB researchers to apply non-invasive, molecular imaging technologies in animal models. Imaging is accomplished with a range of imaging modalities, including gamma camera imaging, X-ray CT, PET/CT bioluminescence, fluorescence, magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, and ultrasound imaging. It is expected that the successful application of small animal imaging will speed efforts to translate basic research to human clinical trials. In 2009 construction of a Radiation Chemistry Laboratory was initiated. The laboratory will enable production of radioactive compounds on site for various researchers.

The goals of the facility include the following:1) to apply imaging to evaluate the health status of animal models, including the function of organ systems;2) to detect and monitor cancer progression during therapeutic intervention; 3) to evaluate targeting of gene therapy vectors for various applications; 4) to evaluate targeting of peptide, proteins, and unique molecular conjugates; 5) to develop imaging approaches for autoimmune disease research; and 6) to develop new instrumentation and imaging systems for increasing the sensitivity and specificity for molecular imaging.

Facility Description

Research laboratories are housed in the imaging suite recently completed in Volker Hall. The Volker Hall facility encompasses approximately 2,000 square feet, including the following areas: animal housing, radiolabeling, imaging, in vitro assays, and tissue culture. The Volker Hall Laboratory houses two gamma cameras, and a SPECT/CT system for 3-dimensional SPECT imaging in combination with X-ray CT. SPECT is an acronym for single photon emission computed tomography, an imaging technique that allows for 3-dimensional detection of gamma-emitting tracers in animals at approximately 1-mm resolution. Two IVIS-100 imaging systems (Xenogen, Inc.) are also available for bioluminescence and fluorescence imaging. Fluorescence tomographic imaging is accomplished with a pulse laser system that can measure both fluorescence intensity and lifetime. A high frequency ultrasound instrument is also available with 20, 30, 40, and 55 MHz probes. A 9.4T MR imaging system is available for small animals.

Research Information

The development and validation of new molecular imaging approaches has great potential to improve the diagnosis and monitoring of cancer in animal models. The advantages of multi-modality imaging assessment are that it is repeatable, non-invasive, and capable of evaluating the entire animal model (or human) over time. The Small Animal Imaging Core is a shared facility supported by the CCC core grant from the NCI. The facility supports preclinical cancer research by providing a unique, non-invasive evaluation of 1) tumor location and mass, 2) receptors important in the growth and spread of cancer, 3) tumor targeting with cells, and 4) response to therapy.

Services and Fees

Bioluminescence/fluorescence/ultrasound/X-ray CT/SPECT $100.00/Hour
MRS/MRI $125.00/Hour

Contact Information:

Director: Kurt Zinn, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Phone: (205) 975-6414

Assistant Director: Hyunki Kim, Ph.D.
Phone: (205) 996-4088

Co-Investigator: Ken Hoyt, Ph.D.
Phone: (205) 934-3116

Co-Investigator: Michael Azure, Ph.D.
Phone: (205) 975-6467

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