Small Animal Imaging Program (SAIP)

Frederick National Laboratory Small Animal Imaging Program

Providing a state-of-the-art in vivo imaging facility to the NCI community.


The function of the SAIP is to collaborate with NCI investigators in the development of: mouse models, new molecular imaging probes for early detection and therapy, monitor tumors in vivo, and perform drug efficacy studies utilizing in vivo imaging techniques. In addition, the SAIP collaborates with the NCI Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives (CSSI) Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory (NCL) to analyze nanoplatforms as part of the cascade assay and assist the NCI/Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnoses (DCTD) initiatives in developing standards in small animal imaging, integrate imaging into drug development, and develops partnerships with industry for technology and drug development.

An overview and comparison of the SAIP "In Vivo" imaging modalities are listed below (Table 1).

Modality Image Resolution (μm) Image Depth (mm) 3D capability (Tomography) Probe Sensitivity (mol/L) Dynamic Studies Scanner
X-Ray CT 5 * Yes N/A No See nuclear scanners
MRI 50 * Yes 10-3 to 10-5 Yes Philips 3T
Nuclear: PET 1400 * Yes 10-11 to 10-12 Yes Siemens Inveon PET/CT
Nuclear: SPECT 500 - 2000 * Yes 10-10 to 10-11 Difficult Bioscan NanoSPECT/CT
Ultrasound 30 Dependent on Transducer Limited
(Small volume)
(not well characterized)
Yes VisualSonics 2100 (Phased Array)
Photo-acoustic 44 - 75 < 20 Limited
(Small volume)
10-7 Yes VisualSonics LAZR
Optical: Bioluminescence >1000 Limited
10-15 to 10-17 Limited Caliper Xenogen Spectrum
Optical: Fluorescence >1000 Dependent on Fluorophore wavelength No 10-9 to 10-12 No CRi Maestro
Optical: Fluorescence Molecular Tomography <1000 Dependent on Fluorophore wavelength Semi-quantitative 10-9 to 10-12 No Perkin-Elmer VISEN 2500

  *: Image spatial resolution is independent of depth.

In addition to the above 'in vivo imaging modalities, the SAIP also utilizes a high spatial resolution image autoradiography system (Fuji; FLA 5100) and performs radionuclide biodistribution and dosimetry studies (Perkin-Elmer 1480 Wizard gamma well counter).

Quantitative Analysis

The SAIP can provide the investigator with quantitative analysis of many physiological and functional parameters; biodistribution, anatomical & physiological tumor volumes, tumor vasculature & perfusion, tracer kinetics (PK), blood flow, tissue Doppler, internal radiation dosimetry, and cardiac function.

Accessing the SAIP

The procedure to access SAIP functions is a four (4) step process: 1) submit the SAIP image request form via a web interface, 2) the NCI-steering committee reviews the image request, 3) review and approval by the ACUC, and 4) submission to the CSAS system for formal cost submission and approval. Prior to initiating an image request the PI must have an approved Frederick-Animal Study Protocol (ASP).

The SAIP web based image request form includes sections for you to describe your proposed research, provide information on your animal models, animal health status, and the potential health risks to SAIP personnel. This form is then forwarded to the SAIP NCI-Steering committee to assist you (the NCI investigator) in determining the optimum imaging modality, molecular probe, acquisition parameters, and analysis. If you are interested, we can set-up a meeting with the steering committee to discuss the various imaging options. After review by the NCI-steering committee, the form is forwarded to the ACUC. The approved imaging submission form becomes an amendment to your ASP. This process usually takes 2 weeks. The ACUC approved SAIP form then becomes an approved modification to your ASP.

After ACUC approval, the SAIP forwards the approved submission form to the PI who then uploads the document (pdf) to the CSAS system. LASP and SAIP then review the request and a formal cost is submitted, which you and your AO can approve/disapprove. The SAIP imaging submission form is uploaded to CSAS since this from dictates all aspects of your imaging project and is approved by the investigator, ACUC, and the SAIP NCI-steering committee.

If you have any concerns or questions regarding this process or about your imaging study, please don't hesitate to contact SAIP. We can also set-up a meeting with the NCI-steering committee to discuss your proposed study.

The SAIP web site "Services and Pricing" describes the services and associated pricing. Service will be charged using two (2) distinct services; imaging and analysis. The molecular markers (D-Luciferin and Magnevist) are included in the cost of the imaging service. All other probes will be an additional charge to the investigator. Additional molecular contrast agents and probes will be added when they become available. We will be pleased to train you to perform your image analysis.

SAIP Administration & Research Staff

  • Joseph D. Kalen, PhD, MSHA; Director, Nuclear
  • Lilia Ileva, MS; MRI
  • Nimit Patel, MS; Optical
  • Lisa Riffle, BS; Ultrasound
  • Richelle Putman; Assistant to the Director

Technical Support: NCI Molecular Imaging Program

  • Marcelino Bernardo (MRI)

NCI Scientific Steering Committee

  • Peter L. Choyke, M.D. (CCR)
  • Piotr Grodzinski, Ph.D. (CSSI)
  • Kristin Komschlies, Ph.D. (OD-Frederick)
  • James L. Tatum, M.D. (DCTD)