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Molecular Probes and Imaging Agents

This program supports development and biomedical application of molecular probes and imaging agents across all imaging modalities for the visualization, characterization and quantification of normal biological and pathophysiological processes and anatomy in living organisms at the molecular, cellular and organ levels.


The emphasis is on engineering of targeting and responsive molecular probes of high sensitivity and specificity for PET and SPECT (radiotracers), MR (T1, T2, CEST, hyperpolarized agents), EPR, CT, optical (fluorescent and bioluminescent probes), ultrasound (microbubbles) and photoacoustic imaging.  The imaging agents may be based on nano- and micro-particles, liposomes, dendrimers, proteins, small organic and inorganic molecules etc., and detectable by one or more imaging modalities.  Imaging agent development through methodologies such as chemical synthesis, biological mutagenesis, microfabrication, etc., may be pursued with an intent of leading to in vivo biomedical application.


The goal of this program is to generate robust molecular probes, imaging agents and platforms for biomedical application across all disease areas to facilitate diagnostics and improve understanding of disease state, progression, and therapeutic response.

Additional emphasis

This program also supports the development of other imaging agents, for example:

  • multimodal molecular probes (PET/MRI, PET/fluorescent, etc.)
  • imaging reporter genes and reporter gene/imaging probe duos
  • molecular probes as part of theranostic systems or biosensors
  • imaging agents for cell labelling and in vivo tracking
  • molecular probes for image-guided interventions


The following related scientific areas are supported by other NIBIB programs:

Grant Number Project Title Principal Investigator Institution
5-F32-EB022416-02 Fluorescence-based molecular imaging of in vivo release kinetics Kevin Mchugh Massachusetts Institute of Technology
1-F32-EB024379-01A1 SUPR peptides for tumor glycosylated MUC1 imaging Brian Engel University of Tx Md Anderson Can Ctr
5-F32-EB025050-02 Development of a Novel Peptide Platform for Targeted PET Imaging and Radiotherapy of Breast Cancer Lukas Carter Sloan-Kettering Inst Can Research
1-F32-EB027571-01 Improved MRI Contrast Agent Visibility Through Contrast Agent Manipulation Eugene Milshteyn Massachusetts General Hospital
5-K99-EB023990-02 Biocompatible Magnetic Resonance Probes for in vivo Concurrent Profiling of Interstitial Oxygenation, Acidosis and Inorganic Phosphate: Preclinical Application to Cancer Benoit Driesschaert West Virginia University
1-K99-EB026312-01A1 Development and Translation of D-glucose as an MRI Contrast Agent for Multiple Sclerosis Xiang Xu Hugo W. Moser Res Inst Kennedy Krieger
5-P41-EB024495-02 Resource for Molecular Imaging Agents in Precision Medicine Martin Pomper Johns Hopkins University
5-R00-EB017289-05 Generation of Cell-based and Animal-based Imaging Systems for Monitoring Synaptic Yan Qin University of Denver (Colorado Seminary)
5-R00-EB020075-04 New tools for imaging: diagnostics based on therapeutics Pedro Brugarolas Massachusetts General Hospital