The PET Center Neuroscience Program is led by Chester A. Mathis, Ph.D. who joined the University of Pittsburgh Department of Radiology in 1992. The PET Neuroscience Program comprises numerous human use research protocols. Research of new agents for neuroscience applications involves close collaboration with members of the Departments of Psychiatry, Neurology, Pathology, Anesthesiology, and Neuroscience. Major areas of emphasis include development of radioligands for the serotonin, dopamine, acetylcholine, benzodiazepine (GABAA) neuroreceptor systems as well as amyloid plaques. Radiochemistry research is centered about development of methods for the rapid incorporation of C-11 and F-18 radiolabels into potent and selective radioligands. The University of Pittsburgh's General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) supports the PET Radiochemistry Laboratory to bring new compounds into human use for University of Pittsburgh clinical investigators. A new amyloid-binding PET ligand developed by Drs. Mathis and Klunk is beginning human trials in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (ADRC).
Cognitive functional brain mapping studies, and metabolic and neuroreceptor studies have been applied to study psychiatric illness, including depression, borderline personality disorder, and dementia. The PET Facility has close collaborations with NIH-supported centers for the evaluation of Late-Life Mood Disorders and Alzheimer's disease at the University of Pittsburgh.