Training and Education

  Physics and Biology in Medicine PhD Program

  The Crump START (Scholars Trained in Advanced Radiochemistry Technologies)

  UCLA Scholars in Oncologic Molecular Imaging (SOMI)

  The UCLA in vivo Cellular and Molecular Imaging Center (ICMIC)


Physics and Biology in Medicine PhD Program

The Physics and Biology in Medicine PhD Program is an Interdepartmental Graduate Program (IDP) involving the Departments of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, Radiology, and Radiation Oncology. Together with the evolution of scientific research, the training program changed over a number of years from a Masters' level Medical Physics degree in 1960, towards interdisciplinary directions and a full-fledged Interdepartmental Program (IDP) with Ph.D. focus in 1996, with four major tracks: (i) Molecular Imaging, (ii) Medical Imaging, (iii) Molecular and Cellular Oncology, and (iv) Therapeutic Medical Physics.

The Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology has assigned the Molecular Imaging Track of this IDP to the Crump Institute, which is also the home of most of the Molecular Imaging Track Faculty. The Crump Institute is therefore responsible for the track decision-making process of the admissions, curriculum and other IDP administrative committees.

The Molecular Imaging Track Faculty of the Crump Institute have backgrounds in physics, engineering, mathematics, chemistry, biology, biochemistry and medicine. This is the only graduate program in the David Geffen School of Medicine and the Division of Life Sciences Medicine and the Division of Life Sciences that categorically brings engineering, physical, biological and medical sciences into a biomedical sciences training program.


Each year, approximately 120 applicants from around the world with backgrounds in physics, engineering, mathematics, chemistry and biology apply for the 7-8 available positions, making the admissions process quite competitive. The first year students are funded mostly through an NIH training grant, but also through the IDP home departments, the UCLA Graduate Division and fellowships. There are currently 37 full time graduate students in the IDP program, 7 of which are in the Molecular Imaging track, and are doing their thesis research in one of the Crump faculty labs.

The T32 training grant has been funded for 32 years, initially through the National Cancer Institute and, since 2003, through the National Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. It was recently renewed (2011-2016) and continues to support various functions of the program.

The Crump Institute START (Scholars Trained in Advanced Radiochemistry Technologies) Course
startThe START (Scholars Trained in Advanced Radiochemistry Technologies) Course originates from a program [2009-2014] designed to transition exceptional scholars into the exciting fields of radiochemistry and molecular imaging. The initial support for this program was from the DOE office of Biological and Environmental Research, through a special "Integrated Radiochemistry Research Projects of Excellence" grant (DE-SC0001249, PI: Dr. Michael E. Phelps).


The START course, now offered approximately every other year, provides a foundation for training of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars at the interface of radiochemistry and engineering to help prepare them for careers in academia and industry in the areas of (1) PET radiochemistry, (2) instrumentation and technologies for radiochemistry, (3) PET tracer design and development. This collection of lectures addresses innovative research and technologies that have the potential for widespread impact in the fields of radiochemistry, PET imaging, drug development, and clinical medicine.

The START lectures are offered by the pioneering faculty members of the Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging and the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at UCLA. Lectures are supplemented with specialized workshops and seminars to provide more in-depth knowledge and hands-on experience in areas such as analytical instrumentation for radiochemistry, cutting-edge synthesis technologies, and novel methods towards radiofluorination.

UCLA Scholars in Oncologic Molecular Imaging (SOMI)


The UCLA Scholars in Oncologic Molecular Imaging (SOMI) program provides interdisciplinary research training of postdoctoral scholars to prepare them for leadership roles in the expanding field of molecular imaging of cancer. Supported by NCI R25T CA098010, Dr. Michael Phelps (Director) and Dr. Anna Wu (Co-Director) lead a diverse group of mentors including the faculty of the Crump Institute as well as an additional 18 faculty from the School of Medicine, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and College of Letters and Sciences.

Over the past five years, a total of 19 trainees have participated in the program, with an average census of nine or ten trainees at any given time. Their doctoral degrees (14 Ph.D. and 5 M.D.) were earned across fields including Physics, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, Physiology, Molecular Immunology, Microbiology, and Medicine, clearly reflecting our success at attracting participants with a diverse range of backgrounds.

SOMI trainees participate in a broad range of activities including required coursework in molecular imaging, cancer biology, and seminars; elective courses; HIPAA certification and training in research ethics; clinical tutorials in pathology and nuclear medicine, and quarterly dinner meetings with fellows and mentors. Central to the three-year program is conduct of an interdisciplinary research program under the guidance of two co-mentors in complementary fields. At the present time, 14 trainees have departed SOMI, of which nine have obtained faculty positions at academic institutions (four at UCLA and five at other institutions), two hold senior research positions in industry, two are completing residencies with plans to continue in research, and one is in private practice. Trainees have successfully competed for K01, R01 and foundation funding, and have been highly successful in publishing in top journals.


The UCLA in vivo Cellular and Molecular Imaging Center (ICMIC)
ICMIC is an NCI-supported P50 grant with funding from 2000 to 2015. Harvey Herschman is the PI and Michael Phelps the Co-PI. The program supports four research projects (all currently directed by Crump Institute faculty members), several core facilities/shared resources, an administrative budget, developmental project funding, and career development funds.

During the period from 2004 to the present, the developmental funds of the ICMIC program supported post doctoral fellows We Lu, Tomo-o Ishikawa, Naveen Jain, Kenichiro Kamei and Shankar Pattabhiraman, and graduate students Haig Hovsepian, Dean Campbell, Rachel Laing, Wei-Yu Lin, Jenny Shu, and Jeff Leyton. These students and postdocs worked (and, in some cases, are still working) in the laboratories of Crump Institute faculty members Caius Radu, Johannes Czernin, Harvey Herschman, Hsian-Rong Tseng, and Anna Wu, as well as in Owen Witte's lab in a collaborative imaging project in the Crump Institute.

Twelve of the 18 career development awards made from the ICMIC grant during this period were awarded to students, postdoctoral fellows or medical fellows mentored by Crump Institute faculty members.