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Zhanhong Wu, Ph.D.
Zhanhong Wu, PhD

Zibo Li, PhD
Hong Yuan, Ph.D.
Hong Yuan, PhD
Yueh Z. Lee, MD, PhD
Yueh Z. Lee, MD, PhD

UNC Department of Radiology is pleased to recognize Associate Professor of Radiology Zhanhong Wu, PhD, as co-MPI of a National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) study awarded four-year R01 funding ($2M) in September 2021. Along with UNC Professor of Surgical Oncology and co-MPI Lawrence Kim, MD,  Wu will jointly oversee a study entitled, “The development of novel PET/NIRF agents for hyperparathyroidism management.” The translational study is aimed at aiding introduction of high sensitivity for preoperative detection (via PET imaging), intraoperative localization (via NIRF imaging) and removal of the parathyroid gland to surgically manage primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT).

Three additional UNC Radiology co-investigators play critical roles in the pre-clinical and translational phases of this investigation. From the Biomedical Research Imaging Center (BRIC), Professor of Radiology and Cyclotron and Radiochemistry Research Program Director Zibo Li, PhD, and Professor of Radiology and BRIC Small Animal Imaging Facility Director Hong Yuan, PhD, join Dr. Wu as co-investigators. Over the study’s four-year course, the combined radiological sciences expertise of these three BRIC faculty will drive development of innovative positron emission tomography (PET) agents targeting markers specific for parathyroid glands, and PET/near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) dual modality agents that integrate parathyroid detection within image-guided surgery.  Associate Professor of Radiology Yueh Lee, MD, PhD, prompted the collaboration between Drs. Kim and Dr. Wu to help identify approaches to solve a radiology dilemma — accurate imaging of the tiny parathyroid gland.

At its four-year conclusion, the success of this translational study not only benefits patients with PHPT who are efficiently managed using a novel surgical approach using the pre- and intraoperative aid of novel PET/NIRF agents. The Wu/Kim team will also contribute evidence supporting future collaboration among radiological scientists and surgical oncology investigators to develop novel imaging agents that clinically translate to surgical management of chronic diseases.