Founder's Message

          The center was originally established as the Health Sciences Research Imaging Center in 1994 to support the image based research activities of the faculty and researches at UCI. In 2001 the center was renamed as John Tu & Thomas Yuen Center for Functional Onco-Imaging (CFOI) in recognition for continuous and generous support of John Tu and Thomas Yuen. The center is located on the School of Medicine campus in Irvine and houses several unique in-house developed imaging instrumentation as well as some commercially acquired imaging systems to provide pre- and postgraduate training, and offer research opportunities and support to UCI faculty. The long-term goal of the center is the development, validation, and application of tomographic multi-modality imaging systems for in vivo small animal and human research. Multimodality imaging involves the use of two or more different imaging modalities by integrating them together for acquiring spatially and/or temporally co-registered images of the subject being studied.

          The origin of tomographic single modality imaging systems goes back to late 1960s. Computed tomography systems introduced during the early 1970s have enhanced the impact of imaging in medicine greatly. After the introduction of x-ray computed tomography (XCT), other tomographic imaging techniques such as PET, SPECT, and MRI followed and have become part of the arsenal of imaging tools used clinically and in research. Although the general notion earlier was that these imaging techniques were competing modalities, this attitude has changed greatly with the development of PET-CT technology during the last decade after realizing that acquisition of spatially co-registered complementary information was more than just the sum of its individual components. In the case of PET-CT, unlike the previous approaches using software based image fusion techniques, the PET-CT system offers the possibility of more accurate image co-registration and hence improved diagnosis for the first time. In addition to the advantage of co-registration of information from two different imaging devices, multi-modality systems also offer another unique advantage. This is due to the fact that in multi-modality systems one of the devices usually provides higher resolution images than the other for anatomical information. For example, in the case of PET-CT systems, CT offers high-resolution anatomic information whereas PET provides lower resolution metabolic images. Then the question arises whether the information from the high-resolution system could be used to improve the image resolution or quantification in the lower resolution modality. Another point to remember is that while commercial PET-CT systems offer co-registered information in space the images are not acquired simultaneously due to the obvious difficulties posed by building a PET scanner inside the CT scanner and making them acquire data simultaneously. The technologies developed at the CFOI are designed to circumvent this shortcoming.

          The CFOI operates by funds obtained from the university, peer reviewed funding agencies, and industrial collaborations. The CFOI has unique capabilities in hardware and software design and construction that covers a broad spectrum of technologies including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), diffuse optical tomography (DOT), fluorescence tomography (FT), bioluminescence tomography (BLT), electrical impedance tomography (EIT), digital x-ray, small animal XCT, scintigraphy including single photon emission tomography (SPECT), and positron emission tomography (PET). Current multi-modality systems developed or under development at the CFOI include MR-DOS/DOT, MR-FT, MR-BLT, MR-EIT, XCT-FT, and MR-SPECT.

          The CFOI is committed to the development of image-based measurements in biomedical research using the multi-modality imaging systems developed at the center with the ultimate goal of translating such technologies to clinical practice. This approach based on imaging instrumentation development and its use in biomedicine enables the UCI researchers to have access to novel imaging instrumentation and techniques that can not be readily purchased from commercial vendors and hence offer the users full research flexibility and considerable advantages over those at other institutions.

Orhan Nalcioglu, PhD, FIEEE, FAAPM, FISMRM
Founder & Professor

April 28, 2008