Naga Vara Kishore Pillarsetty, PhD

About Me

I am a radiochemist working in Memorial Hospital’s Department of Radiology with a focus on the synthesis and development of positron-emission tomography (PET) imaging probes. I have a PhD degree in chemistry and while a post-doctoral fellow at Memorial Sloan Kettering, I developed an interest in biology. During my fellowship, I synthesized fluorine-18 and iodine-124 labeled molecules, which can act as PET probes for imaging HSV1-tk gene expression or function as a marker for proliferation, a hallmark of cancer. The information obtained from PET imaging was used to assess the biological status of the tumor cells. Since many disease states, including cancer, involve alterations in basic biological functions of the cells, information regarding these alterations can aid in diagnosis of disease and help in planning the most effective treatment. Non-invasive PET imaging is powerful technique which provides us with vital biological information which can be extremely useful in disease diagnosis and management. With this background, I became interested in development of PET/radiochemical probes which augment solving fundamental biological problems. Since this requires a multidisciplinary effort, I am extremely lucky and grateful to have colleagues who are experts in fields ranging from chemistry to radiology. We enjoy extremely fruitful collaborations and interact very closely on all aspects of research. My current research interests and collaborations include:

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  • synthesis and development of fluorine-18 and iodine-124 labeled generic PET tracers for studying functional differences between tumor cells and normal cells,
  • development of radiolabeling protocols for tyrosine kinase targeted PET imaging agents,
  • using animal models to evaluate efficacy of the PET tracers, and
  • developing new radiolabeling protocols and methodologies.
  • Clinical Expertise: Development and production of PET agents for clinical studies
  • Languages Spoken: English
  • Education: PhD, University of Missouri. Columbia
  • Fellowships: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center


Visit PubMed for a full listing of Naga Vara Kishore Pillarsetty’s journal articles

Pubmed is an online index of biomedical articles maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

Clinical Trials

As home to one of the world’s top cancer research centers, Memorial Sloan Kettering is typically involved in more than 900 clinical trials at a given time. Currently, clinical trials focused on the conditions I treat are enrolling new patients. If you’re interested in joining a clinical trial, click to learn about the trial’s purpose, eligibility criteria, and how to get more information.

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Most major health insurers offer plans that include MSK as one of their in-network providers. If MSK is in-network, it means all our doctors are too. Medicaid and New York State Medicare also provide benefits for care at MSK.

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