CaNCURE Mentors


Peter Caravan, Ph.D.


Assistant Professor in Radiology
Harvard Medical School


Director, Institute for Innovation in Imaging
Massachusetts General Hospital


caravan@nmr.mgh.harvard.edu

Biography: Dr. Caravan received his BSc (Honors) at Acadia University and his PhD in chemistry from the University of British Columbia (under the guidance of Chris Orvig), followed by an NSERC postdoctoral fellowship at the Université de Lausanne (under the guidance of André Merbach). He then spent 9 years at Epix Pharmaceuticals developing tissue-specific and responsive MRI contrast agents where he was ultimately responsible for all chemistry and contrast agent research at the company. He is co-inventor of EP-2104R, a fibrin-specific contrast agent for thrombus detection, that was the first molecular MR imaging agent to enter into human clinical trials. He joined the Radiology faculty at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in 2007. Dr. Caravan’s current research focus is on the development and application of new PET and MR imaging probes and in exploiting the inherent synergies in dual PET-MR imaging. Dr. Caravan has contributed 8 book chapters a on the chemistry, properties, and uses of imaging agents over the last 10 years. He has published over 100 peer reviewed papers on synthetic organic, inorganic, and physical chemistry of imaging probes, the biophysics of the interactions of these probes with proteins, and their application in animal models of disease. Dr. Caravan is co-inventor on 20 granted or pending patents related to new imaging agents and methods for their use.

Research and Expertise: My research focuses broadly in the areas of fibrosis, thrombosis, and probe (MRI, PET, CT, optical) technology development. Over half of all deaths are caused by diseases that have some fibrotic component. Chronic diseases of the heart (cardiomyopathies, coronary disease), liver (hepatitis B, C, steatohepatitis), kidney (diabetic nephropathy), lung (pulmonary fibrosis), arteries (atherosclerosis), and many cancers all result in fibrosis/scarring of the tissue. We are developing noninvasive methods to detect and stage fibrosis in different organs and monitor response to drug treatments. Thrombosis (blood clot) is the cause of ischemic stroke, heart attack, pulmonary embolism, and deep vein thrombosis, all leading causes of death and morbidity in the western world. We are developing molecular probes that detect different stages of thrombosis and can monitor treatment response. My lab also develops new probe technologies to sense changes in the tissue microenvironment such as pH, O2, or redox change. Research in the Caravan lab spans molecular design, chemical synthesis, in vitro characterization, and in vivo proof of concept through to human studies.

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