McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine Affiliated Faculty Member Recognized by the ISMRM
For his major research contributions to the field of magnetic resonance in biomedical sciences, Chien Ho, PhD, the Alumni Professor of Biological Sciences in Carnegie Mellon University’s Mellon College of Science, director of the Pittsburgh NMR Center for Biomedical Research, and McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member, has been awarded the 2013 Gold Medal of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM).
Dr. Ho is being recognized for his pioneering role in the area of cell tracking using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The work of Dr. Ho’s laboratory has laid the foundation for much of the prolific research being done in the field today.
“It is exciting to see the biomedical community applying MRI-based cell tracking to important problems in biology and medicine,” Dr. Ho said. “I am delighted that the ISMRM has chosen to award me with this Gold Medal, but I must share it with the former and present students, postdoctoral fellows, and colleagues that I have worked with in the Pittsburgh NMR Center.”
Dr. Ho’s laboratory was the first to use endocytosis – the process by which a cell takes up a molecule by engulfing it through its membrane – as a way to label cells. They used this technique to introduce iron-oxide nanoparticles into cells. The nanoparticles act as an MRI contrast agent, allowing researchers to track the movement of the labeled cells in vivo. Using this technique, Dr. Ho’s group was the first to demonstrate that these labeled cells could be tracked to disease-specific tissue sites using MRI in a living animal. His studies also were the first to show that MRI had a high enough sensitivity to track individual cells in a live animal.
Dr. Ho and his colleagues are applying this technique to the detection of organ transplant rejection. They are developing a multifaceted MRI strategy that uses cell tracking to detect immune responses and monitor changes in organ anatomy and function at the same time. The data can reveal the early stages of graft rejection in kidney, lung, and heart transplant models.
The work by Dr. Ho and his colleagues has contributed to numerous advances in biology and clinical medicine, including using MRI cell tracking to investigate pre-clinical models of disease and to monitor new cell-based therapies. Additionally, Dr. Ho’s techniques are being investigated as a way to guide stem cell therapies.