SHREVEPORT, La., Nov. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The BRF recently hired two eminent scientists, Pradeep K. Garg, Ph.D. and Sudha Garg, Ph.D. to provide the leadership and vision for the newly formed Louisiana Center for Molecular Imaging and Therapy. Dr. Pradeep Garg will be the Executive Director of the Center which incorporates BRF's PET Imaging Center and Southern Isotopes into a single entity with a mission of advancing the BRF research program. Dr. Sudha Garg will be the Center's Director of Radiopharmaceuticals.
Prior to joining BRF, Dr. Pradeep Garg was Professor of Radiological Sciences at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston Salem, NC. Prior to his tenure at Wake Forest, Dr. Garg was at Duke University Medical Center (1987-1995) and then moved to a faculty position in the Department of Radiology at the Yale University Medical Center in New Haven, CT (1995-2003) where he later became the Director of the Yale University PET Center.
Dr. Sudha Garg was an Associate Professor of Radiology and the Associate Director of the Ligand Laboratory at the Research PET Center at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. In this position, she directed the research and production activities relating to the development of novel radiopharmaceuticals. Prior to joining Wake Forest University in 2003, she worked at Molecular Neuroimaging, LLC, in New Haven, CT, a neuroimaging company specializing in developing novel biomarkers for neuroimaging as the Director of Radiochemistry.
Dr. Pradeep Garg has an impressive academic track record and has published more than sixty peer-reviewed papers and six published book chapters. He has served on numerous committees at his previous institutions and on multiple national and international committees. He is a member of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, Society of Radiopharmaceutical Sciences, Radiological Society of North America, American Chemical Society, and the American Association for Cancer Research and served in leadership positions in many of those organizations.
The Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana (BRF) opened the first PET imaging center and the first PET radioisotope production facility (currently named Southern Isotopes) in Louisiana in 1995. Both of these facilities have been a great success and resource to hospitals, health centers and pharmaceutical companies around the state, nation and world. For example:
- More than 35,000 PET scans have been performed with over $18 million in free scans for indigent patients; and
- Over $53 million has been invested in PET to introduce and support new clinical technology, radiopharmaceutical manufacturing and related research.
Over the last several years, the BRF has been tracking various emerging sciences and noticed an explosive growth in the field of Molecular Imaging, a discipline at the intersection of molecular biology and in vivo imaging, thus allowing the visualization of any cellular function and molecular processes. The BRF also recognized an ever-growing role of molecular imaging in drug development and translational medical research. The ability to image fine molecular changes offers an incredible number of exciting possibilities for health care including early detection, diagnosis, and even treatment of disease.
The BRF envisioned an opportunity to leverage its existing imaging and radiochemistry expertise to establish a Molecular Imaging Center that creates a unique national resource located in Shreveport. According to Dr. John George, President and CEO of the BRF, "We are very fortunate to have recruited Drs. Pradeep and Sudha Garg to lead the establishment of the Center for Molecular Imaging and Therapy. Their stellar research and clinical resumes, as well as their past success at previous institutions, make this an exciting opportunity for our community, state and region."
The Center for Molecular Imaging and Therapy will include all BRF resources currently operating in PET imaging and radiopharmaceutical manufacturing (over 25 highly trained employees and $10 million dollars in equipment) under Dr. Pradeep Garg's leadership. The five year plan calls for restructuring of existing facilities, adding 35 new staff positions, and $15-20 million worth of additional equipment and resources.
The Center for Molecular Imaging and Therapy will be a catalyst for increasing Louisiana's economic and research opportunities in the expanding molecular imaging industry. By providing unique molecular imaging and radiopharmaceutical capabilities to public and private customers at the local and international levels, the Center will be the only facility of its type in Louisiana and one of very few in the entire United States. It will increase research opportunities for scientists at Louisiana higher education institutions and affiliated research facilities such as LSU Health Shreveport School of Medicine, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, LSU Baton Rouge, Louisiana Tech, University of Louisiana at Monroe and Tulane University. The Center also will make available opportunities for Louisiana residents to participate in innovative clinical trials using molecular imaging to better diagnose, treat and manage disease.
In summary, the Center projects the following outcomes over the next five years:
- Thirty-five additional high paying technology-based jobs;
- New multi-million dollar revenue streams for LSU Health Shreveport and other Louisiana higher education institutions from contracts with pharmaceutical companies and new government and private grant funding;
- Ability to attract other molecular imaging-related companies to the State;
- Continued support for Louisiana indigent patient PET scans; and
- Access for patients through opportunities to participate in innovative clinical trials.
SOURCE Biomedical Research Foundation