Oncology Precision Therapeutics and Imaging Core (OPTIC)

  • Kenneth Olive, PhD
    • Director
  • Yanping Sun, PhD
    • MRI Physicist
  • Christopher Damoci
    • Senior Staff Officer/Imaging Scientist

The Oncology Precision Therapeutics and Imaging Core (OPTIC) Shared Resource assists Cancer Center Members in imaging-based studies. The ability to use image based studies for phenotypic characterization or functional analysis has become increasingly important for biomedical research. The goal of Animal Imaging is to provide access to a broad range of in vivo imaging technologies including molecular imaging technologies such as optical imaging, quantitative physiologic imaging with ultrasound, and anatomic imaging with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Most importantly, we provide expertise in planning, executing, and analyzing in vivo imaging studies.

Services include:

  • Bruker BioSpec 94/20 9.4 Tesla MRI
  • VEVO 2100 Ultrasonic Imaging System
  • VEVO 2100 Analysis Software (VevoCQ)
  • IVIS Spectrum Bioluminescence and Fluorescence Optical Imaging System
  • Living Image 4.4 Optical Imaging Analysis Software
  • Perkin-Elmer Quantum FX micro-CT Imaging System

Bruker 94/20 Magnetic Resonance Imager

Our newest mode of imaging is the Bruker 94/20 Magnetic Resonance Imager, a fully shielded, superconducting wide-bore magnet that is nitrogen free and super cooled via a liquid helium reservoir. The MRI suite was specifically built to house this magnet and is actively shielded from stray radio frequencies to allow for more precise imaging and a higher signal-to-noise ratio. It uses a state-of-the-art integrated, laser-guided rail system with water warmed exam beds to allow for homothermic continuity throughout the exam process. The Bruker BioSpec 9.4 Tesla MR has the ability to perform a multitude of types of magnetic resonance imaging. Some of the applications listed below may require development time and/or collaborations with the imaging core and other scientists at CUIMC.

  • Anatomical Imaging
  • Cardiac Imaging
  • MR Spectroscopy
  • Functional MR Imaging

CUIMC researchers interested in using the Bruker BioSpec for a research project should fill out the 9.4T MRI Research Project Registration Form and contact Yanping Sun, ys2785@cumc.columbia.edu.

Quantum FX system

The Quantum FX system is the first stand alone microCT imaging system to deliver high quality images at an X-ray dose low enough to enable true longitudinal microCT imaging in pre-clinical in vivo studies. With Quantum FX you can follow and characterize disease progression throughout your complete study using microCT imaging (micro CT) at every imaging point.

VisualSonics Vevo2100 High Resolution Ultrasound System 

We also offer the VisualSonics Vevo2100 High Resolution Ultrasound System for small Animal Imaging. The method includes preparation of the animal for real time imaging, 2D and 3D image acquisition, and post-acquisition analysis of tumors volumes. The Vevo 2100 ultrasound system allows us to non invasively detect and measure abnormalities as well as to compare to normal tissue, thereby identifying the magnitude of the abnormalities. Post acquisition analysis on ultrasound scans is offered with the Vevo2100 Analysis software installed on a dedicated SAI SR computer for qualitative and quantitative assessments and measurements.

IVIS spectrum

The IVIS spectrum is an imaging technique that uses bioluminescent and fluorescent reporters that can render into a 3 dimensional view of the animal. This technique is non invasive and can be used for disease progression monitoring as well as observing gene expression patterns in vivo. Caliper (a PerkinElmer company) offers a wealth of information about IVIS spectrum on their website

Experimental Design and Protocol Development Services

Usage of SAISR instrumentation and guidance from SAISR personnel are provided on a fee-for-service basis. We are happy to provide guidance, education, and assistance for any protocol or application that we have already developed. However, many users have specific needs that are not covered by existing protocols, or their specific application requires modification of existing protocols. The SAISR is pleased to now offer a series of Development Project options in order to build these new applications on a collaborative basis. Development projects are initiated through a free initial consultation with a staff member in order to determine the project goals, experimental design, controls, and any technical limitations. If we can complete the design in this time, there is no charge. At the end of the consultation, if more work is required, we will provide a determination of the scale of effort required to build the protocol (Tier 1 – 4). The user then has the option of entering into a collaboration to initiate the project for a substantial discount relative to being billed on an hourly basis. These projects are entered into with the following understanding:

  • You will not be billed unless we successfully design a protocol.
  • If our estimate is severely too high (i.e. a Tier 3 project gets solved in 3 hours), then we will adjust the project to the appropriate Tier.
  • If our estimate is severely too low (i.e. a Tier 1 project looks like it could take a full week), you will have the option of either stopping work with no charge, or agreeing to increase the Tier and continue work.
  • Once the protocol is developed, you may use it for your experiment at standard hourly rates. The development project does NOT include scanning of experimental mice, except as necessary to develop the protocol.
  • Because a new technique is being developed collaboratively, the first publication that emerges from the user’s lab using the technique will include contributing SAISR personnel as authors.
  • Once the protocol is developed, the SAISR can provide the new application as a service for any other users. You also agree that we may utilize sample images or analysis results in promotional materials to demonstrate the potential of the technique to other users.

Tier 4 projects are those we estimate will take a substantial effort (weeks or months), akin to developing a whole new laboratory technique from scratch. These will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and may include contributions from scientists in the users’ lab working side-by-side with SAISR personnel over an extended period.

In addition, the SAISR will provide a special service for users who are writing or planning a grant that will include funding for imaging studies. We will scan a small number of animals to provide example images or data that may be included in the grant. Generally, these will be using established imaging techniques.

If you have any questions regarding development projects or other SAISR services or costs, please contact Chris Damoci (cd2758@cumc.columbia.edu).

Locations and Contacts

The Oncology Precision Therapeutics and Imaging Core (OPTIC) Shared Resource Facility is located at:

Irving Cancer Research Center
1130 St. Nicolas Avenue, Room 1104AD

The OPTIC Shared Resource Imaging Analysis Suite and Office is located at:

Irving Cancer Research Center
1130 St. Nicolas Avenue, Room 200ST2


Kenneth Olive, PhD
Email: kenolive@columbia.edu

Yanping Sun, PhD, MRI Physicist / Imaging Scientist

Christopher Damoci, Senior Staff Officer / Imaging Scientist
Email: cd2758@columbia.edu

Training, User Fees, and Policies

  • Users must be trained before any access to the instrument is given. 
  • After providing documentation of IACUC approval for their work, the user must complete an initial introduction to the instrument administered by the Senior Staff Officer, Christopher Damoci.
  • They must then complete an in depth training program including both theory and practical portions.
  • Following these training sessions, the user must complete two imaging sessions in which they operate the instrument under supervision.
  • Finally, the user must pass a practical test administered by Mr. Damoci or the technician, demonstrating competency to use the instrument safely without supervision.

A key component of the user training program is a focus on infection control procedures. Shared small animal imaging instruments pose a significant risk of cross contamination in the event of a disease outbreak within the animal facility. To minimize this risk, the users will be trained to disinfect the instruments both before and after use. Failure to adhere to these procedures will result in retraining in the first instance, and suspension of instrument access after repeated infractions.


  • Obtain access to the animal facility barrier at the HICCC by completing the requisite training. Access therefore requires an IACUC approved protocol, training in the safe and humane handling of animals, and barrier specific training.
  • Complete an introductory demonstration of basic operation and capabilities of the instrument given by an SAISA technician or manager.
  • Complete in depth training on the IVIS provided by an SAISAR technician or manager. The in depth training will consist of theory section in which the basic principles of ultrasound imaging are taught, followed by a detailed practical teaching session.
  • After initial training, the User must complete two imaging sessions in which the user operates the instrument under supervision. Additional imaging sessions will be performed as needed.
  • The user must pass a practical test, administered by the SAISR technician or manager. At this time, access to the scheduling calendar will be granted.

User Policies

  • Each MRI, ultrasound and/or IVIS spectrum user must provide a Columbia account number for billing.
  • User passwords must be obtained prior to using the analyzers. Individuals are required to save their data to a flash drive since computer storage space is limited. Staff routinely delete all files.
  • Users who cancel an appointment less than 24-hours in advance are subject to the full charge of the scheduled time.

User Fees

Protocol Development - MRI

Fees for Cancer Center Members and Non-Members:
Initial consultation (up to 2 hours): free
Pilot Image for grants (up to 2 hours): free

  • Tier 1: 4-8 person hours and 2-4 instrument hours: $1000
  • Tier 2: 8-6 person-hours and 6-10 instrument hours: $2500
  • Tier 3: 24-40 person-hours and 12-20 instrument hours: $4500
  • Tier 4: >40 person-hours and >20 instrument hours: To be determined

Protocol Development - Other Equipment

Initial consultation (up to 2 hours): free
Pilot Image for grants (up to 2 hours): free

  • Tier 1: 4-8 person hours and 2-4 instrument hours:
    • Cancer Center Members: $250
    • Non-Cancer Center members: $250
  • Tier 2: 8-6 person-hours and 6-10 instrument hours:
    • Cancer Center Members: $700
    • Non-Cancer Center members: $700
  • Tier 3: 24-40 person-hours and 12-20 instrument hours:
    • Cancer Center Members: $1800
    • Non-Cancer Center members: $1800
  • Tier 4: >40 person-hours and >20 instrument hours: To be determined

Online Reservations

The Oncology Precision Therapeutics and Imaging Core Shared Resource uses the iLab Core Management System for service requests and billing. Before you can request services, you must log into iLab and be approved as a lab member.