Standardisation of preclinical PET/CT protocols across multiple research centres

Preclinical in vivo imaging modalities, such as positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) imaging, have empowered biomedical research because these techniques are less invasive than other techniques; by using the animals as their own controls, the number of animals to be used is reduced and the statistical power is improved; and diagnostic and therapeutic agents can be developed using identical platforms, thus providing a unique straightforward translational paradigm.

Although the use of non-invasive preclinical PET/CT imaging is rapidly increasing, there is a lack of standardization of imaging protocols and characterization of different parameters for each scanning platform. This limits the comparison of preclinical research results across different sites and the translation of findings to clinical trials. The difficulties of standardization of preclinical PET/CT protocols are in part due to the vast number of critical acquisition/reconstruction parameters and their combinations provided by different scanner vendors.

This project aims to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the different factors that affect the outcome of preclinical PET/CT imaging results across multiple centres and scanners, in order to work towards standardization of small animal PET/CT imaging protocols. Standardization guidelines for preclinical PET/CT studies will help guiding the scientific community working with small animal PET/CT scanners. This is of central importance to the whole preclinical PET/CT imaging community, as the need for standardization of imaging protocols is transversal to a number of biomedical research projects.

Gray scale of PET CT images

Research Methods and Objectives

Objective 1

Design and manufacture prototype rat and mouse anthropomorphic phantoms to be used instead of animals for development of improved PET/CT imaging protocols.

Objective 2

Improve experimental design and comparison of PET/CT imaging data between research groups/organisations by investigating and comparing acquisition/reconstruction parameters in different imaging platforms, with the aim to work towards standardization of imaging protocols across sites.

Objective 3

Assess the impact and significance of different PET/CT parameters on image quality and quantification across different platforms, while delivering the lowest doses to small animals as possible.

Principal Investigator, Co-Investigators, Other researchers

Principal investigatorDr Adriana Tavares

Co-InvestigatorProfessor Newby

Other Researchers: Ms Wendy McDougald (PhD student)


  • Professor Andrew Welch, University of Aberdeen, UK
  • Professor Sven Plein and Dr Jurgen Schneider, University of Leeds, UK
  • Professor Stefaan Vandenberghe, University of Ghent, Belgium
  • Professor Robert Miyaoka, University of Washington, USA

Further detail can be found at: NC3Rs - Standardisation of preclinical PET/CT protocols across multiple research centres