Services Offered

The Imaging Center offers microPET, microCT, bioluminescence and fluorescence imaging modalities and complementary in vitro/ex vivo services including cell-based assays, biodistribution, digital autoradiography and dosimetry. Companion PET tracer radiochemistry and radiolabeling services are available in-house and is supported by on-campus cyclotron facilities.

Technical and analytical support are available throughout the study process:

  • Initial consultation
  • Experimental design and optimization
  • Imaging protocols and techniques
  • Post-acquisition data analysis and interpretation
  • Training and staff assistance
Positron emission tomography (PET)

Positron emission tomography (PET) provides the means for imaging the rates of biologic processes in vivo. Imaging is accomplished through the integration of two technologies, the tracer kinetic assay method and computed tomography (CT). The tracer kinetic assay method employs a radiolabeled biologically active compound (tracer) and a mathematical model that describes the kinetics of the tracer as it participates in a biological process. The model permits the calculation of the rate of the process. The tissue tracer concentration measurement required by the tracer kinetic model is provided by the PET scanner, with the final result being a three-dimensional (3-D) image of the anatomic distribution of the biological process under study.

Excerpt from: Phelps, M.E., Positron Emission Tomography. In: Mazziotta, J. and Gilman, S., Eds., Clinical Brain Imaging: Principles and Applications, 1992, F.A. Davis Company, pp71-107

Genisys 8 PET/CT (Sofie Biosciences)


Focus 220 PET (Concorde Microsystems)

Computed tomography (CT)

Computed tomography (CT), also known as computerized tomography or computed axial tomography, uses X-rays to produce detailed cross-sectional images of the body. Multiple X-ray projections from a single imaging session is reconstructed into a 3D image of the subject. With newer technologies available, the radiation doses imparted by these X-rays have been significantly reduced. As such, PET/CT imaging is standard in most preclinical and clinical studies to achieve accurate localization of PET measurements. Use of contrast such as iodine- or gold-based agents can enhance visualization of areas such as vasculature, abdominal tissues, and lymphatic tissues.



microCAT II (ImTek)

Optical (bioluminescence and fluorescence)

Optical imaging is a non-invasive technology to visualize and measure light produced through various means. In vivo optical imaging generally implies bioluminescence, light produced by enzymatic reactions, or fluorescence, light emitted from substances that have absorbed light. Cerenkov radiation from radiolabeled probes can also be detected by optical scanners. Optical reporter systems are extensively used by biomedical researchers for monitoring disease progression, cell trafficking, drug screening and therapeutic response. This assay can be further engineered to interrogate the functional states of cells using activatable reporter genes or probes.

IVIS Lumina II (Perkin Elmer)


Maestro (CRi)

Automated and Semi-automated Radiochemistry and Radiolabeling

PET imaging probes are routinely produced by the Crump Institute's Cyclotron and Radiochemistry Technology Center (headed by Dr. Mike van Dam) or the Ahmanson Translational Imaging Division's Biomedical Cyclotron and Radiochemistry Facility (headed by Dr. Sam Sadeghi). The Imaging Center coordinates with both cyclotron areas to schedule PET probes for preclinical imaging. Dr. van Dam's group develops automated radiopharmaceutical synthesis technologies and many standard imaging probes are produced using these microfluidic systems. Furthermore, probe development is an active area of research by Crump Institute faculty. Additionally, the Imaging Center is fully equipped for protein radiolabeling and trained users can schedule independent use of these facilities.

Currently available probes for routine synthesis.

Animal Models, Toxicology and FDA Studies

Managed by the UCLA Division of Laboratory Animal Medicine (DLAM)1, a dedicated vivarium adjacent to the Imaging Center offers certified veterinary, diagnostic laboratory, husbandry and procurement services. DLAM also provides preclinical toxicology and safety pharmacology studies under Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) compliance. An efficient and cost-effective mechanism has been established to fulfill Federal Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory requirements for translating promising PET imaging probes from preclinical research into human clinical trials2. The Imaging Center and DLAM are also developing the means to routinely offer various animal models for non-invasive, longitudinal imaging studies.

  1. DLAM (Dr. Marcelo Couto):
  2. Mosessian, S., et al. INDs for PET molecular imaging probes-approach by an academic institution. Molecular imaging and biology : MIB : the official publication of the Academy of Molecular Imaging 16, 441-448 (2014).
Biodistribution and Dosimetry

Biodistribution of 18F-D-FAC in C57BL6 mice for dosimetry calculations. Radu CG et al. Nat Med 2008

The Imaging Center or trained users can perform quantitative biodistribution studies in small animals by PET imaging or ex vivo tissue radioactivity measurements. Clinical translation of novel PET tracers require assessment of radiation dose exposure to human tissue. The Imaging Center is developing the service to offer PET probe dosimetry from mice biodistribution studies for translation to human imaging.

Wizard 3" automatic gamma counter (Perkin Elmer)


Inveon PET (Siemens)


Focus 220 PET (Concorde Microsystems)

Digital Autoradiography

Digital whole-body autoradiography (DWBA) of 18F-FDG biodistribution in a C57BL6 mouse.

Autoradiography permits hi-resolution assessment of radiolabeled molecules biodistribution. In particular, this technique is routinely used to complement PET biodistribution studies to further define the specific localization of PET probes. Services include whole body and tissue sectioning and phosphor imaging systems.

Leica CM3600 XP cryomacrotome – whole body sectioning


Leica CM3050 cryomicrotome – tissue sectioning


FUJIFILM BAS-500 phosphor imaging system

In Vitro Assays

In vitro technologies and assays of PET probe metabolism.
Vu NT et. al. JNM 2011
Wang J JNM 2013
Clark PM et al. PNAS 2014

A radiation- and BSL2-certified set-up in the Imaging Center is available for routine cell culture, sterile preparation and performing in vitro assays such as screening novel PET probes, optical reporter systems or therapeutics prior to in vivo imaging.

Cell culture set-up


Wizard 3" automatic gamma counter (Perkin Elmer)


PET Probes

Crump Cyclotron and Radiochemistry Center

The facility is fully-equipped for production of [F-18]-labeled tracers. By leveraging cutting-edge technologies for PET tracer production, we are able to offer a wide range of tracers. Generally, production must be requested at least 2 weeks in advance to allow sufficient time for ordering any needed materials and for coordinating any associated imaging studies, if applicable.

Small molecules

PET Probes Type Biological Application
18F-FDG glucose glycolysis (cancer biology, neuroscience, etc)
18F-NaF bone appetite crystals bone metabolism; cancer biology (e.g. prostate cancer bone metastasis)
18F-FLT thymidine (nucleoside) proliferation; nucleoside metabolism (e.g. cancer biology, immunology)
18F-FAC (and analogs) deoxycytidine (nucleoside) immunology (e.g. adaptive immune response; immunotherapies)
cancer biology (e.g. treatment stratification of nucleoside analog prodrugs)
18F-AraG guanosine (nucleoside) immunology; cancer biology
18F-FDHT testosterone cancer biology (prostate cancer)
18F-FDOPA amino acid (phenylalanine) dopamine synthesis: neuroscience & brain tumors
18F-fallypride D2 receptor ligand neuroscience
18F-FHBG, 18F-FEAU, 18F-L-FMAU, 124I-FIAU (and analogs) nucleoside reporter gene imaging (e.g. cell trafficking and cellular function)
18F-FDDNP amyloid ligand neuroscience: Alzheimer's & other amyloid disorders
11C-acetate acetate cancer biology (prostate cancer)
fatty acid synthesis
13N-ammonia ammonia blood flow at the capillary level (perfusion)
11C-L-glutamine glutamine cancer biology; glutamine metabolism
18F-clofarabine deoxycytidine (nucleoside) immunology (e.g. adaptive immune response; immunotherapies)
cancer biology (e.g. treatment stratification of nucleoside analog prodrugs)
18F-flumazenil benzodiazepene receptor ligand neuroscience
18F-FPEB metabotropic glutamate receptor, type 5 ligand neuroscience
ImmunoPET (various radioisotopes) full antibodies and antibody fragments cancer biology, immunology, cell surface targets
68Ga-DOTATATE* somatostatin analogs cancer biology (e.g. neuroendocrine tumors)
11C-choline* choline cancer biology (e.g. prostate cancer)
18F-fluorobenzyl triphenylphosphonium*    

*Future offer

Protein/Peptide Labeling

Probe Type Biological Application
18F-fluorobenzaldehyde prosthetic group peptide/protein labeling
18F-SFB prosthetic group peptide/protein labeling
18F-FBAM prosthetic group peptide/protein labeling

Other isotopes can be purchased from vendors for use at the Imaging Center
89-zirconium, 64-copper, 124-iodine, etc.

Optical Reagents

Modality Reporter system Size (kDa) Substrate Kinetics Secreted reporter gene? Peak Emission (nm)
Bioluminescence cypridina luciferase 61 cypridina luciferin glow yes 465
Bioluminescence dinoflagellate luciferase 40 dinoflagellate luciferin flash no 474
Bioluminescence gaussia luciferase 20 coelenterazine flash yes (non-secreted variant available) 480
Bioluminescence bacteria luciferase (luxABCDE - multiple enzyme system) varying endogenously produced - enzyme encoded by lux operon glow no 490
Bioluminescence renilla luciferase and variants 36 coelenterazine flash no 475-535 (variants)
Bioluminescence click beetle green 64 D-luciferin glow no 540
Bioluminescence firefly luciferase and variants 61 D-luciferin glow no 560
Bioluminescence click beetle red 64 D-luciferin glow no 620
Fluorescence visit this link for detailed information:

Plasmids may be available at:

(effective Feb 1, 2016)

Service JCCC Rate UCLA Rate External Rate Per Unit
microPET imaging
(includes basic staff support)
$44 $73 $73 scan
microCT imaging
(includes basic staff support)
$24 $53 $53 scan
bioluminescence or fluorescence imaging
(includes D-luciferin, anesthesia, etc; basic staff support)
$150 $217 $217 hour
18F-FDG imaging probe $45 $45 $45 injected dose
Other established PET probes (no charge for 18F-NaF) $124 $124 Batch Pricing injected dose
(not including cost of radioisotope)
$628 $628 $628 procedure
Gamma counter $137 $137 $137 hour
Crump facilities
(e.g. procedure room; radiolabeling, cell culture and surgery areas; cryo-microtome/-macrotome; imaging plate reader)
$22 $22 $22 hour
Imaging staff support $69 $69 $69 hour
Imaging faculty support $160 $160 $160 hour
Consultation, protocol development, experimental design Free Free Free/Variable