CFP - Special Issue

Quantitative Methods for Molecular Diagnostic and Therapeutic Imaging

Guest editor:

Quanzheng Li, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
Department of Radiology, Massachusette General Hospital
Harvard Medical School
55 Fruit St., White 427K
Boston, MA 02114

Tel:  6176439481
Fax: 6177266165


The field of molecular imaging has gradually moved from qualitative imaging to semi-quantitative and then quantitative imaging. Compared with qualitative imaging, quantitative imaging can provide not only more accurate and task-specific information for various diagnostic applications, but also a more precise evaluation of treatment and a more appropriate treatment management. Furthermore, once a quantitative measurement of diagnosis/treatment is available, one can optimize the performance of diagnosis/treatment by changing the parameters in the mathematical description of the quantitative measurement. An example of this trend is the analysis of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) data. Soon after people applied a semi-quantitative analysis, standardized update value (SUV), to replace the visual evaluation of the image quality, they realized that SUV has a lot of disadvantages (e.g. inconsistency). A number of modified SUV methods as well as quantitative analysis methods have thus been developed to overcome the shortcomings of SUV.

In spite of different imaging modalities and biomedical applications, the fundamental methodology of quantitative imaging remains the same. For static images it includes analysis and optimization of image quality in terms of variance, resolution, contrast recovery and lesion detectability; for dynamic images it mainly involves compartment modeling, the simplified versions of compartment models and the estimation of parameters of compartment models. For a specific diagnostic or therapeutic task, human and computer observers are usually applied to study the sensitivity-specificity trade-off. These quantitative analysis methods have been applied to different preclinical and clinical applications using different modalities, such as PET, Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT), optical imaging and MRI, and result in a very productive and active research front in molecular imaging.

Quantitative methods mathematically describe both diagnostic and therapeutic molecular imaging, and thus provide a bridge to naturally merge these two components together into a new unified quantitative mathematical framework for the analysis and optimization of theranotics. As we have observed in the past in molecular imaging, we believe quantitative methods will play an important role in the development of theranostics. We have therefore taken the initiative to publish a special issue within the new journal “Theranostics” on this topic, in which researchers are invited to share their experience, expertise, ideas and results on:

  • Quantitative analysis of static molecular images: variance, resolution, contrast recovery, lesion detectability, etc.;
  • Seimi-quantitative analysis of static molecular images: SUV, its limit and modifications;
  • Quantitative analysis of dynamic data: Compartment modeling and methods to accurately estimate the parameters of compartment models;
  • Quantitative human and computer observer study;
  • Other topics within the scope of this special issue.

Manuscripts for the special issue can be sent directly to the guest editor(s) by email with the subject "Quantitative Imaging Special Issue", or submitted online at (mark "Quantitative Imaging Special Issue" in the "Suggested reviewers" field to identify the paper).
Detailed formatting instructions, in particular, the formatting of references, can be found in

All inquiries should be sent to the guest editor(s) at the above email address.