Small Animal Imaging


Director: Arion Chatziioannou, PhD

Co-Director: Shili Xu, PhD

Mailing Address
Preclinical Imaging Technology Center
Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging
California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI)
2nd floor, Room 2112
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1770
(in the Court of Sciences)

Imaging Center: (310) 794-2224;
Arion Chatziioannou: (310) 825-7877
Shili Xu
: (310) 825-7137

Preclinical Imaging Technology Center:
Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging:


The Small Animal Imaging Shared Resource (SAISR) provides state-of-the-art in vivo imaging technologies and related diagnostic and radio-therapeutic services to JCCC and UCLA faculty, staff and students. The SAISR is a world-class, first-of-its-kind small animal imaging technology development and shared resources facility, providing JCCC investigators with technical imaging expertise and facilitating the design, execution and analysis of in vivo small animal imaging studies.

Our aims are:

  1. To provide and develop state-of-the-art small animal imaging technologies to address the evolving needs of JCCC researchers.
  2. To provide radiochemistry and radiolabeling services to support production of established PET tracers or development of novel tracers for investigator imaging studies.
  3. To support and train JCCC investigators in radiochemistry, preclinical imaging, and image analysis.

The SAISR offers full-service whole body microPET, microCT and optical imaging and complementary in vitro/ex vivo assays to measure tissue function and structure. Companion PET tracer radiochemistry and radiolabeling services are available in-house through the adjacent radiochemistry and cyclotron facility. Study design and development, training in imaging techniques, and staff assistance are offered regularly to all users free of charge. Please contact the SAISR at to get started.

In vivo imaging services

Nuclear imaging

  • Positron emission tomography (microPET)
    • Static and dynamic whole body functional imaging
    • Extensive panel of radiolabeled small molecule PET tracers (readily available)
    • Peptide/protein radiolabeling service and workspace
  • Computed tomography (microCT)
    • Whole body anatomical imaging
    • Quick scan time for in vivo imaging (1-2min)
    • Down to 18.6 µm (specimen imaging) and 100 µm (in vivo imaging) resolution
    • Contrast enhancement of soft tissues such as lymph nodes, spleen, liver, heart, gastrointestinal, major blood vessels

Optical imaging

  • Bioluminescence, Fluorescence and Cerenkov imaging
  • Whole body, multi-animal imaging
  • Cell localization, target trafficking, longitudinal studies
  • BLI: D-luciferin substrate provided
  • FLI: multiple excitation/emission filters including near-infrared

MRI imaging

  • Aspect 1T preclinical MRI system(156 micron resolution)
  • ECG-gated cardiac MRI available

Complementary services

  • Routine productions of established PET tracers
  • Novel PET tracer consultation and development
  • Biologics radiolabeling
  • Toxicology of new PET tracers for IND submission (through UCLA DLAM)
  • Imaging-based pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics studies
  • Radiotherapeutic labeling (e.g. Lu-177, Y-90) and efficacy studies
  • PET tracer whole body biodistribution and dosimetry
  • PET tracer metabolite analysis
  • In vivo and ex vivo biodistribution studies of imaging agents
  • In vitro binding and uptake assays (e.g. radiolabeled PET tracers; fluorescent biomarkers)
  • In vitro and ex vivo (tissue or whole body) autoradiography
  • Quantitative image analysis and training
  • Image data processing and 2D slice or 3D volume renderings
  • DICOM formatting and archiving


In vivo imaging

  • GNEXT combined microPET/CT scanner (Sofie Biosciences)
  • Genisys 8 combined microPET/CT scanner (Sofie Biosciences)
  • In-house quick microCT scanner (CrumpCAT)
  • IVIS Lumina II bioluminescent and fluorescent optical imaging system
  • Maestro fluorescent imaging system with NIR imaging and spectral unmixing (CRi)

Sample imaging

  • High resolution (18 micron) CT scan of fixed tissues or samples

Radiochemistry and Radiolabeling

  • Siemens RDS-111 cyclotron
  • multiple Sofie Biosciences ELIXYS FLEX/CHEM automated radiosynthesizers
  • Raytest Ginastar radio-TLC reader
  • multiple Knauer Smartline HPLC systems with Bioscan gamma detectors
  • multiple Capintec CRC-25 PET dose calibrators
  • Agilent gas chromatograph with mass spec detector
  • Iodination chamber
  • Cerenkov imaging system

Complementary instruments

  • Wizard 3" automatic gamma counter (Perkin Elmer)
  • Leica CM3600 XP cryomacrotome – whole body sectioning
  • Leica CM3050 cryomicrotome – tissue sectioning
  • FUJIFILM BAS-500 phosphor imaging system
  • Agilent 1100 HPLC with UV/Vis detector, Bioscan Flow-Count radiation detector and fraction collector
  • Cell culture facility: biosafety cabinet, incubator, microscope, centrifuge
  • Adams MHCT II whole blood micro-hematocrit centrifuge – blood separation
  • Microfuge 22R centrifuge (Beckman Coulter)
  • Isoflurane vaporizers, induction chambers, nose cones, and animal heating stations
  • Multiple BSL2-level biosafety cabinets and chemical fume hoods
  • Adjacent full-service DLAM vivarium and procedure room for mice and rats (through DLAM)


  • New investigators can contact the SAISR at to discuss potential studies, experimental design, data analysis, and for questions or advice
  • After training, JCCC researchers can readily use the SAISR through secure keycard access around the clock
  • Experiments are generally performed by members of the investigator’s lab after SAISR training, with expertise and assistance from the SAISR faculty and staff
  • Animal housing facility: Adjacent to the Imaging Center is a barrier facility for housing animals before and after imaging with biosafety cabinets for procedures
  • The Imaging Center is fully certified by UCLA’s Office of Animal Research Oversight (OARO) and Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) for animal welfare and radiation, laboratory, biological and chemical safety procedures





microPET/CTon Genisys8
$207 Hour
microPET on Iveon or Focus220
$135 Hour
microCT $73 Hour
Optical imaging (includes D-luciferin)


Usage of gamma counter, cryomacrotome, cryomicrotome, Fuji BAS phosphor imager, procedure workspace, etc. $31 Hour
Imaging staff assistance $48 Hour

List of Available PET Tracers

PET Probe





Glycolysis (oncology, neurology, etc.)



bone scan; cardiac calcification; oncology (e.g. prostate cancer bone metastasis)


Thymidine (nucleoside analog)

Proliferation; nucleoside metabolism (e.g. oncology, immunology)

[18F]FAC (and analogs)

Deoxycytidine (nucleoside analog)

Immunology (e.g. adaptive immune response; immunotherapies) oncology (e.g. treatment stratification of nucleoside analog prodrugs)

[18F]clofarabine Purine (nucleoside analog
Immunology; oncology


Guanosine (nucleoside analog)

Immunology; oncology

[18F]FHBG, FEAU, L-FMAU, FIAU (and analogs)
Guanosine (nucieoside analog)
Immunology; oncology



Oncology (prostate cancer)


Amino acid (phenylalanine)

Neuroscience (dopaminergic) oncology: brain tumors


Dopamine receptor antagonist

Neuroscience (dopaminergic)



Routinely for clinical imaging: neurology (e.g., Alzheimer's disease)



Oncology (prostate cancer)
fatty acid synthesis

ImmunoPET (various radioisotopes)

Full antibodies and antibody fragments

Oncology, immunology, cell surface targets


Somatostatin analogs

Oncology (e.g., neuroendocrine tumors)


Somatostatin analogs

Oncology (e.g., neuroendocrine tumors)



Oncology (prostate cancer)



Oncology; glutamine metabolism

[18F]fluorobenzyl triphenylphosphonium  ([18F]FBnTP)

Mitohondrial membrane potential


[18F]florbetaben Amyloid


Protein/Peptide Labeling


Prosthetic group

Peptide/protein labeling


Prosthetic group

Peptide/protein labeling

[18F]FBEM Prosthetic group
Peptide/protein labeling
[18F]fluorobenzaldehyde Prosthetic group
Peptide/protein labeling
[18F]fluoroethyl-PEG3-azide Prosthetic group
Peptide/protein labeling




Other isotopes can be purchased from external groups for use at the SAISR


89-zirconium (89Zr) – 3D Imaging; Washington University St Louis

64-copper (64Cu) – Washington University St Louis

86-yttrium (86Y) – Washington University St Louis

124-iodine (124I) – 3D Imaging



177-lutetium (177Lu) – Oak Ridge National Laboratory

90-yttrium (90Y) – Perkin Elmer

111-indium (111In) – Nordion

125-iodine (126I) – Perkin Elmer

131-iodine (131I) – Perkin Elmer