Radiochemistry Program - Vasdev Lab

The Radiochemistry Program - Vasdev Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital is dedicated to discovering new chemistry and evaluating novel PET radiopharmaceuticals for preclinical and clinical imaging studies.

Neil Vasdev, PhD

Neil Vasdev, PhD
Director of Radiochemistry at Mass General and Associate Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School 

The overall research goal of the Radiochemistry Program is to synthesize novel positron emission tomography (PET) labeled compounds and radiopharmaceuticals for preclinical and clinical evaluations.

Led by Program Director Neil Vasdev, PhD, our team has expanded to include faculty members, visiting scientists, research associates, postdoctoral fellows, undergraduate and high school students. We also have an active clinical production team that translates new PET radiopharmaceuticals for clinical studies.

Our program has several active areas of research including:



Neil Vasdev, PhD

Back row left to right: Jason Holland, Benjamin Rotstein, Lee Collier, Nicky Stephenson, Tim Shoup, Steven Liang
Front row left to right: Becky Lewis, Colleen Shea, Neil Vasdev




Neil Vasdev, PhD

Director of Radiochemistry, Massachusetts General Hospital
Associate Professor of Radiology, Harvard Medical School

Phone:   1-617-643-4736

B.Sc. (Hons) and B.A. (summa cum laude; 1998); Ph.D. (NSERC PGS; Profs. Chirakal and Schrobilgen) McMaster University, Canada; Chemist at Astra Pharma and Glaxo Wellcome Inc. NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow (Prof. VanBrocklin, 2003-2004) Berkeley National Laboratories, USA. Associate Professor (2004-2011) University of Toronto/CAMH.


Steven H. Liang, PhD

Assistant Chemist, Massachusetts General Hospital
Assistant Professor of Radiology, Harvard Medical School

Phone:   1-617-726-3404

B.Sc. (2003) in Chemistry, Tianjin University, Tianjin, P.R. China. Ph.D. (Prof. Ciufolini; 2010) in Chemistry, University of British Columbia, Canada. NSERC Post-doctoral Fellow, (Prof. E. J. Corey; 2010–2012) Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University.



Timothy M. Shoup, PhD

Assistant Chemist, Massachusetts General Hospital
Instructor in Radiology, Harvard Medical School

Phone:   1-617-726-6749

B.S. UCSB, CA; M.S. at SDSU,. Ph.D., UC Davis (1988). Postdoctoral fellowships: Prof. Kabalka (1989), University of Tennessee and Massachusetts General Hospital (1991: Dr. Elmeleh). Positions include: Assistant Professor (Emory University; 1993), and Biostream before rejoining Massachusetts General Hospital (2002). 

Lee Collier, PhD

Visiting Scientist, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School


B.Sc. (Hons; 1982) and Ph.D. (1989) in Chemistry, Carleton University, Canada; Positions include: Faculty appointment at Columbia University; Senior Scientist (2003-2008) Siemens Molecular Imaging Biomarker Research. Senior Scientist, 2009-Present, Advion Inc.


Eli Livni, PhD

Assistant Professor of Radiology, Harvard Medical School


B.Sc. (1968) in Chemistry, Bar Ilan University, Israel. PhD (1980) Medicinal Chemistry, Northeastern University, Boston (Prof. Davis). Chemistry and Radiochemistry positions include Asia Pharmaceuticals, Israel, Soreq Research Center, Israel, Childrens' Hospital Boston and at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School over 32 years.


Benjamin H. Rotstein, PhD

Assistant Chemist, Massachusetts General Hospital; Instructor in Radiology, Harvard Medical School

Phone:   1-617-726-6980

BSc (Hons; 2007) in Chemistry, Dalhousie University and University of King’s College, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Ph.D. (Prof. Yudin; 2012) in Chemistry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in conjunction with GlaxoSmithKline (North Carolina).



Nickeisha A. Stephenson, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow, Massachusetts General Hospital / Harvard Medical School

Phone:   1-617-726-6867

B.S. in Chemistry, 2005, Ithaca College, New York. Ph.D. (Prof. Shannon Stahl; 2011) in Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison. Post-Doctoral Research Scientist (Prof. Tobias Ritter; 2011-2013), Harvard University.

Cory Daignault, MD

Clinical Fellow

Phone:   1-617-643-7561

B.Sc (1998) Florida State University - Double Major Chemistry & Economics; MD (2008) Thomas Jefferson University; Internship (2009) Hennepin County Medical Center -Transitional; Residency (2013) University of Minnesota Medical Center - Diagnostic Radiology; Fellowship (current) Massachusetts General Hospital - Nuclear Radiology.



Alina Kassenbrock, BA

Research Assistant

Phone:   1-617-726-6867

B.A. in Chemistry, Reed College (2012).  Senior Reactor Operator, Reed Research Reactor (2009-2012).  Post Bac. Oregon Health Sciences University (2012-2013).  M.S. in Chemistry, Northeastern University (Ongoing).



Production Radiochemistry Team
Back row left to right: Peter Rice, Gary Siwruk
Front row left to right: Raul Jackson, Dan Yokell, Neil Vasdev

Thank you to our terrific co-op students from Northeastern, Becky Lewis and David Hill




Cover Gallery



Recent Program Publications

2015 Publications
2014 Publications
2013 Publications
2012 Publications


  • Steven H. Liang and Neil Vasdev*. "Total Radiosynthesis: Thinking outside the box to achieve multi-step reactions with short-lived radionuclides". Australian Journal of Chemistry. (2015) In press.
  • Lu Wang, Orit Jacobson, Din Avdic, Benjamin H. Rotstein, Ido D. Weiss, Lee Collier, Xiaoyuan (Shawn) Chen,* Neil Vasdev,* and Steven H. Liang* "Ortho-stabilized 18F-azido click agents and application in PET imaging of single-stranded DNA aptamer" Angewandte Chemie International Edition. (2015) In press
  • Samuel Calderwood, Thomas Lee Collier, Veronique Gouverneur, Steven H. Liang,* and Neil Vasdev*. "Synthesis of 18F-Arenes from Spirocyclic Iodonium(III) Ylides via Continuous-Flow Microfluidics" Journal of Fluorine Chemistry". (2015) In press.
  • Steven H. Liang, Adam G. Southon, Benjamin H. Fraser, Anwen M. Krause-Heuer, Bo Zhang, Timothy M. Shoup, Rebecca Lewis, Irene Volitakis, Yifeng Han, Ivan Greguric, Ashley I. Bush,* and Neil Vasdev*. "Novel fluorinated 8-hydroxyquinoline based metal ionophores for exploring the metal hypothesis of Alzheimer’s disease" ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters. (2015) In press; DOI: 10.1021/acsmedchemlett.5b00281
  • Benjamin H. Rotstein, Steven H. Liang, Vasily V. Belov, Eli Livni, Dylan B. Levine, Ali A. Bonab, Mikhail I. Papisov , Roy H. Perlis, and Neil Vasdev.* "Practical radiosynthesis and preclinical neuroimaging of [11C]isradipine, a calcium channel antagonist". Molecules Volume 20 (2015), 9550-9559
  • Nickeisha A. Stephenson, Jason P. Holland, Alina Kassenbrock, Daniel L. Yokell, Eli Livni, Steven H. Liang, and Neil Vasdev. “Iodonium Ylide Mediated Radiofluorination of [18F]FPEB and Validation for Human Use”. Journal of Nuclear Medicine. 2015, 56, 489-492.
  • Steven H. Liang, Daniel L. Yokell, Marc D. Normandin, Peter A. Rice, Raul N. Jackson, Timothy M. Shoup, Thomas J. Brady, Georges El Fakhri, Thomas L. Collier*  and Neil Vasdev* “First Human Use of a Radiopharmaceutical Prepared by Continuous-Flow Microfluidic Chemistry: Proof of Concept with the Tau Imaging Agent [18F]T807”. Molecular Imaging, 2015, In press. DOI 10.2310/7290.2014.00025.
  • Steven H. Liang, Jason P. Holland, Nickeisha Stephenson, Alina Kassenbrock, Benjamin H. Rotstein, Cory P. Daignault, Rebecca Lewis, Lee Collier, Jacob M. Hooker and Neil Vasdev. “Temporal PET neuroimaging studies of [18F]CABS13 in a double transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease and non-human primates” ACS Chemical Neuroscience. 2015, 6, 535-541.
  • Pedram Heidari, Francis Deng, Shadi A. Esfahani, Alicia K. Leece, Timothy M. Shoup, Neil Vasdev, and Umar Mahmood. “Pharmacodynamic imaging guides dosing of a selective estrogen receptor degrader” Clinical Cancer Research.  2015, 21 1340-1347.
  • Timothy M. Shoup, Ali Bonab, Alan A. Wilson and Neil Vasdev. "Synthesis and Preclinical Evaluation of [18F]FCHC for Neuroimaging of Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase". Molecular Imaging and Biology. 2015, 17, 257-263. DOI: 10.1007/s11307-014-0789-1.
  • Justin W. Hicks, Oleg Sadovski, Jun Parkes, Sylvain Houle, Bruce A. Hay, Randall L. Carter, Alan A. Wilson, and Neil Vasdev. “Radiosynthesis and ex vivo evaluation of [18F]-(S)-3-(6-(3-fluoropropoxy)benzo[d]isoxazol-3-yl)-5-(methoxymethyl)oxazolidin-2-one for imaging MAO-B with PET” Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters.  2015, 25, 288-291.
  • David E. Hill, Neil Vasdev and Jason P. Holland. “Evaluating the accuracy of density functional theory for calculating 1H and 13C NMR chemical shifts in drug molecules”.  Computational and Theoretical Chemistry. 2015, 1051, 161-172.
  • Eszter Boros, Alice M. Bowen, Lee Josephson, Neil Vasdev and Jason P. Holland. “Chelate-free metal ion binding and heat-induced radiolabeling of iron oxide nanoparticles.” Chemical Science.  2015, 6, 225-236.


  • B. Rotstein, N. Stephenson, N. Vasdev* and S.H. Liang* “Spirocyclic hypervalent iodine(III)-mediated radiofluorination of non-activated and hindered aromatics” Nature Communications 2014, 5, 4365-4369. DOI:10.1038/ncomms5365
    Abstract: We describe an effective solution that relies on the chemistry of spirocyclic hypervalent iodine(III) complexes, which serve as precursors for rapid, one-step regioselective radiofluorination with [18F]fluoride.
  • S.H. Liang* and N. Vasdev* “Aliphatic 18F Bond Formation via Transition Metal Based [18F]Fluorination” Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2014, 53, 11416-11418.
    Abstract: Recent advances in aliphatic radiofluorinations enabled by transition metals, specifically Co- and Mn-salen complexes, have been unveiled. These new approaches operate in a unique way that obviates the need of highly activated substrates for radiolabeling and offers a new synthetic strategy to prepare 18F-labeled radiotracers.
  • T. Kasahara, Y.J. Jang, L. Racicot, D. Panagopoulos, S.H. Liang and M.A. Ciufolini “Iodonium Metathesis Reacions” Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2014, 53, 9637-9639.
    Abstract: A metathesis reaction occurs when a diaryliodonium triflate is heated with an aryl iodide, resulting in the formation of a new diaryliodonium triflate.
  • B. Rotstein, H. Wey, T. Shoup, A. Wilson, S.H. Liang, J. Hooker and N. Vasdev “PET Imaging of Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase with [18F]DOPP in Non-Human Primates” Molecular Pharmaceutics 2014, 11  3832-3838.
    Abstract: The goal of this work is to evaluate [18F]DOPP in  nonhuman primates to support its clinical translation for the imaging of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH).
  • P.M. Rusjan, A.A. Wilson, L. Miller, I. Fan, R. Mizrahi, S. Houle, N. Vasdev and J.H. Meyer. “Kinetic modelling of the monoamine oxidase B radioligand [11C]SL25.1188 in human brain with high resolution positron emission tomography”  Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism 2014, 34, 883-889. DOI:10.1038/jcbfm.2014.34
    Abstract: This article describes the kinetic modeling of [11C]SL25.1188 ([(S)-5-methoxymethyl-3-[6-(4,4,4-trifluorobutoxy)-benzo[d]isoxazol-3-yl]-oxazolidin-2-[11C]one]) binding to monoamine oxidase B (MAO-B) in the human brain using high-resolution positron emission tomography (PET).
  • J.W. Hicks, J. Parkes, O. Sadovski, J. Tong, S. Houle, N. Vasdev and A.A. Wilson “Radiosynthesis and ex vivo evaluation of [11C-carbonyl]carbamate- and urea-based monoacylglycerol lipase inhibitors” Nuclear Medicine and Biology 2014, 41, 688-694. DOI: 10.1016/j.nucmedbio.2014.05.001
    Abstract: We herein report the preparation of carbamate- and urea-based MAGL inhibitors amenable to radiolabeling via [11C]CO2 fixation. From those, five were selected for radiolabeling as the first candidate carbon-11 labeled radiotracers targeting MAGL.
  • J.P. Holland and N. Vasdev. “Charting the mechanism and reactivity of zirconium oxalate with hydroxamate ligands using density functional theory: implications in new chelate design” Dalton Transactions 2014, 43, 9872-9884. DOI: 10.1039/c4dt00733f
    Abstract: In this work, density functional theory methods were used to investigate the mechanism of reaction from [Zr(C2O4)4](4-) to Zr(MeAHA)4 by ligand substitution with N-methyl acetohydroxamate (MeAHA).
  • B. Rotstein, S.H. Liang and N. Vasdev* “Clinical PET Research Realized by [11C]CO2-Fixation” Molecular Imaging Gateway Newsletter, 2014, 8, issue 2. [link]
    Abstract: In this article, we present a summary of modern [11C]carbon dioxide-fixation reactions that have enabled new classes of radiotracers to be explored in preclinical and clinical research studies.
  • J.P. Holland, S.H. Liang, B. Rotstein, T.L. Collier, N. Stephenson, I. Greguric and N. Vasdev* “Alternative approaches for PET radiotracer development in Alzheimer’s disease: Imaging beyond plaque” Journal of Labelled Compounds and Radiopharmaceuticals 2014, 57, 323-331. DOI: 10.1002/jlcr.3158
    : We present the chemical basis of various radiotracers which show promise in preclinical or clinical studies for use in evaluating the phenotypic or biochemical characteristics of AD. Radiotracers for PET imaging neuroinflammation, metal ion association with Aβ-plaques, tau protein, cholinergic and cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes including glycogen-synthase kinase-3β and monoamine oxidase B amongst others, and their connection to AD are highlighted.
  • B. Rotstein, J. Hooker, J. Woo, T. Collier, T. Brady, S.H. Liang* and N. Vasdev* “Synthesis of [11C]bexarotene by Cu-mediated [11C]carbon dioxide fixation and preliminary PET imaging” ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters 2014, 5, 668-672. DOI: 10.1021/ml500065q
    Abstract: We use 11CO2 fixation technology to produce 11C-labeld bexarotene (Targretin™), a retinoid X receptor agonist that has proposed mechanisms of action in Alzheimer’ s disease that have been the subject of recent controversy.
  • S.H. Liang, D. Yokell, R. Jackson, P. Rice, R. Callahan, K. Johnson, D. Alagille, G. Tamagnan, T. Collier* and N. Vasdev* “Microfluidic continuous-flow radiosynthesis of [18F]FPEB suitable for human PET imaging” Medicinal Chemistry Communications 2014, 5, 432-435. DOI: 10.1039/C3MD00335C
    Abstract: The synthesis of fluorine-18 labeled 3-fluoro-5-[(pyridin-3-yl)ethynyl] benzonitrile ([18F]FPEB) for imaging metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype type 5 (mGluR5) was achieved with a commercial continuous-flow microfluidics device, which represents the first positron emission tomography (PET) radiopharmaceutical that is suitable for human use with this technology.





Mass General Radiochemistry Program - Vasdev Lab

Phone: 617-643-4736

Neil Vasdev, PhD
Director of Radiochemistry, Massachusetts General Hospital
Associate Professor of Radiology, Harvard Medical School

Massachusetts General Hospital
Division of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
55 Fruit Street, White 427
Boston, Massachusetts 02114

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