The Division of Nuclear Medicine at the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center is composed of physicians, physicists, engineers, pharmacists, chemists, and mathematicians who work closely together. Our primary mission is to serve the sick by diagnosing diseases with radioactive material. The Division actively collaborates with almost all of the medical specialties to deliver personalized examinations of bodily functions that often provide unique information that cannot be obtained any other way.
Our portfolio of radiopharmaceutical tools is extensive. A variety of tracers are available for measuring kinetics on a moment-by-moment basis. The Division provides radioactive gases to assess ventilation, serves radioactive food to measure gastric motility, and offers dozens of techniques to quantify the flow of bodily liquids, including bile, blood, cerebrospinal fluid, lymph, saliva, tears, and urine. We radiolabel the patients’ own red blood cells to study bleeding, and their own white blood cells to localize infections. Customized examinations are available to study almost all organ systems, from the adrenal glands to the Organ of Zuckerkandl.
The Division enjoys an international reputation for excellence in the use of radioactive material to treat cancer. Each week, we meet in conference with surgeons, endocrinologists, and pathologists to select the right treatment for each individual who is referred to us for the treatment of thyroid diseases that range from benign goiters to cancer. The Division remains on the forefront of developing novel treatments for lymphoma, prostate cancer, and metastases to the skeleton with radiopharmaceuticals that target the neoplasm while sparing normal tissues. There is an active collaboration with Interventional Radiology to deliver radioactive material directly to tumors in the liver without exposing other organs.
The Division is one of the few resources in New York City with the ability to perform specialized diagnostic procedures that use rare radioactive materials. The Division enjoys an international referral base for performing Chromium-51 studies of red blood cell mass and Iodine-125 studies of plasma volume. We provide Phosphorus-32 to treat cancer, and use antibodies against cancer that have been tagged with the radioactive isotopes Lutetium-177 and Yttrium-90. We were the first facility in Manhattan to provide Radium-223 for prostate cancer, and have plans to deliver several more exotic isotopes in the near future.
The Division operates a complete laboratory that is provisioned to offer a full range of nuclear medicine services. Equipment includes 2 general purpose SPECT/CT instruments, 4 general purpose SPECT devices, a dedicated breast imaging gamma camera, and a small field of view camera for thyroid disease, along with PET/CT scanners in the hospital, outpatient clinic, and our imaging research center. The cameras are maintained by full time engineers and medical physicists. The radiopharmaceutical facilities are staffed by 5 PhD level radiochemists, 4 full time radiopharmacists, and support staff to maintain active programs in clinical practice and research.
There is a state-of-the-art cyclotron in the Citicorp Biomedical Imaging Center (CBIC) and multiple hot cells to produce high quality radiopharmaceuticals with a variety of radioisotopes, including Carbon-11, Nitrogen-13, Fluorine 18, Zirconium-87, and Iodine-124, among others. Small animal PET and SPECT cameras are available to facilitate non-clinical research.
Research interests of the faculty are diverse. We collaborate with investigators from Brookhaven National Laboratories, Columbia University, Hunter College, Mount Sinai, New York University, Rockefeller University, and Stony Brook. Programs include the quantification of neuroreceptor binding. Radiopharmaceuticals are available for several components of the dopaminergic and serotonergic system. Over the past 3 years, the Division has performed several hundred studies of cerebral amyloid with both investigational and FDA approved tracers. We have developed core competencies in the quantification of neuroinflammation, and have active projects in multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, bipolar disorder, and traumatic brain injury. The study of cancer biology is an important part of our mission. The Division conducts ongoing research in breast cancer, prostate cancer, and neuroendocrine tumors. We actively participate in a center of excellence to treat patients with carcinoid disease.
Our vision for the future sees nuclear medicine as a central component of personalized medicine. Our field is continuously developing new radiopharmaceuticals for characterizing the molecular biology of individual patients. We already deliver unique information that matters, and seem well positioned to help patients capitalize on rapidly emerging innovations in many fields of medicine.