The Grimm lab in the Molecular Pharmacology and Chemistry Program focuses on the development of novel and innovative molecular imaging approaches for cancer diagnostics, predominantly based on activatable imaging agents. These approaches combine and utilize modern biology, nanotechnology, chemistry and physics with modern imaging methods (MRI, optical imaging, PET and Cerenkov) to create novel imaging agents that allow much earlier detection and improved therapy monitoring of cancer.


In our latest paper, published in Nano Letters on “Silica Nanoparticles as Substrates for Chelator-free Labeling of Oxophilic Radioisotopes”, we describe a method for facile chelator-free radiometal labeling of silica nanoparticles, which allows for a widespread of applications. This work is in collaboration with the Kircher Lab. 

In our paper, published in Nature Communications on March 4, 2014, we show that a clinically approved iron oxide nanoparticle (Ferumoxytol) can be used as pH-sensitive drug delivery vehicle, and that drug loading and release can be monitored in vivo by magnetic resonance imaging.

The use of radioactive labeled iron oxide nanoaprticles for the mapping of sentinel lymph nodes with PET/MRI is described in a paper, published in Nature Communications on January 20, 2014. In this work, we present a multimodal nanoparticle (89Zr-ferumoxytol) for the enhanced mapping of draining lymph nodes with PET/MRI. We demonstrate that 89Zr-ferumoxytol can be used for high-resolution tomographic studies of lymphatic drainage in preclinical disease models. This nanoparticle platform has significant translational potential since ferumoxytol is already in clinical use. 

SCIFI is described in our paper, published online in Nature Medicine on September 8, 2013. Our lab is demonstrating how the Cerenkov light given off by radiotracers can be harnessed to provide information about precise biological processes within a tumor - such as the expression of an antigen on the cell surface or the activity of a protein known to promote cancer spread. This work demonstrates how Cerenkov light can be used to interrogate disease signatures inbcluding enzymatic activity through novel imaging probes. 

We also published the first human Cerenkov images using 18F-FDG in patients with malignant lymph nodes. This paper, which was published in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine on September 27, 2013, demonstrates the feasibility of Cerenkov imaging in clinical settings.

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Selected Achievements

NIH Nagy New Investigator Award (2014)

Jan Grimm, MD, PhD

At Work: Radiologist and Nuclear Imaging Specialist Jan Grimm

Physician-scientist Jan Grimm works to develop innovative imaging approaches for diagnosing cancer.