Skip to main content

Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

Celebrating 75 Years! Learn More >>

Molecular Imaging Branch (MIB)

Section on PET Neuroimaging Sciences

Robert B. Innis, MD, PhD, Branch and Section Chief
Robert B. Innis, MD, PhD,
Branch and Section Chief

My laboratory develops and uses positron emission tomographic (PET) radioligands to study pathophysiology in several neuropsychiatric disorders. Working in close collaboration with the radiochemistry laboratory of Dr. Victor Pike, we use in vivo imaging to evaluate novel PET radioligands, first in animals, then in healthy human subjects, and finally in patients. My laboratory has multidisciplinary expertise in pharmacology, animal experimentation, clinical neuroscience, digital image analysis, and human evaluation of investigational radiopharmaceuticals. In addition to traditional receptor targets, we use radiolabeled probes for in vivo imaging of intracellular signal transduction, gene expression, and a mitochondrial protein that is a marker for inflammatory cells (activated microglia and macrophages).

I am fortunate to have outstanding people in my laboratory at different levels of career development, from graduate students to senior investigators. In addition, my laboratory has attracted several MD/PhD investigators because of its translational work and has physicians from three medical specialties: psychiatry, neurology, and nuclear medicine. More information about the training opportunities available for staff can be found here.

In the lab, imaging is performed in primates and rodents to assess the utility of new probes and to explore models of human pathophysiology. About one-third of our PET scans are performed in animals and two-thirds are performed in humans. Our research includes "first-in-human" use of several novel PET radioligands. Dr. Pike, Director of Radiochemistry, is now operational in NIH’s new commercial-level (cGMP) laboratory, which allows his old lab to be used for radiochemistry development and animal studies. With these expanded facilities, we are working on several targets in animals and/or humans, including translocator protein 18 kDa (TSPO) imaged with the novel radioligand 11C-ER176, cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1), COX-2, OGlcNAcase (an enzyme involved in the clearance of tau protein from brain), amyloid, tau protein, phosphodiesterase-4B (PDE4B), PDE4D, and SV2A (a marker of synaptic density). To learn about some of our current research studies, please see Current Research, or see Dr. Innis' CV (PDF | HTML).

Contact Information
Robert B. Innis, MD, PhD
Chief, Molecular Imaging Branch, NIMH
Bldg. 10, Rm. B1D43
10 Center Drive MSC 1026
Bethesda, MD 20892-1026
Office Tel: 301-594-1368
E-mail Dr. Innis

Branch Administrative Manager:
Elizabeth Alzona
Tel: 301-594-1089
FAX: 301-480-3610
E-mail Ms. Alzona