Research Summary

Robert Flavell, MD, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Section of Molecular Imaging in the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at the University of California, San Francisco. He received his medical degree from Weill Cornell Medical College, and his PhD from the Rockefeller University as part of the Tri-Institutional MD PhD program. He completed his one-year internship at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Dr. Flavell completed a four-year diagnostic radiology residency at the University of California, San Francisco, where he also finished a Nuclear Medicine fellowship. In June 2016. he joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor in Residence. Since 2019, he has been the Chief of the Division of Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics (formerly nuclear medicine), in the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging.

Dr. Flavell’s laboratory focuses on the development of new molecular imaging and therapeutic tools for better understanding of disease progression in patients with prostate and other cancers. One area of interest is the relationship between acidic interstitial pH and disease progression, where he has developed new tools to directly image tumor pH using hyperpolarized 13C MRI and positron emission tomography (PET). Another major focus is the development of novel theranostic agents, where new therapies are paired with imaging agents against the same target. Dr. Flavell's research spans from basic chemistry and chemical biology projects, to translational and clinical studies.

Research Funding

  • December 9, 2020 - November 30, 2025 - A novel immunoPET imaging agent to guide treatment planning in lethal prostate cancer , Principal Investigator . Sponsor: NIH, Sponsor Award ID: R37CA251980
  • September 17, 2021 - August 31, 2024 - ACE2-targeted PET radiotracers for investigating spatiotemporal distribution of SARS-CoV-2 organ injury and therapy response. , Co-Principal Investigator . Sponsor: NIH, Sponsor Award ID: R01AI161829
  • May 1, 2018 - January 31, 2022 - Application of hyperpolarized 13C interstitial pH imaging to risk stratification in prostate cancer , Principal Investigator . Sponsor: NIH, Sponsor Award ID: R21EB026012


Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, B.A., 1996-2000, Mathematics and chemistry
The Rockefeller University, New York, NY, laboratory of Dr. Tom W. Muir, PhD, 2002 - 2010, Peptide and protein chemistry, radiolabeling methods, and PET imaging
Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, MD, 2002 - 2010, Medicine
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 2010 - 2011, Transitional year intern
Dept of Radiology, UCSF Medical Center, San Francisco, CA, 2011 - 2015, Diagnostic radiology residency
Dept of Radiology, UCSF Medical Center, San Francisco, CA 2015 - 2016, Nuclear medicine fellowship

Honors & Awards

  • 2000
    Honors for undergraduate thesis in chemistry, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT
  • 2013
    Introduction to Academic Radiology Program, American Roentgen Ray Society
  • 2014
    Certificate of Merit, 2014 Radiology Society of North America meeting
  • 2014
    University of California, San Francisco catalyst program consultation award
  • 2015
    Radiology Society of North America, Roentgen Resident Research award
  • 2015
    Association of University Radiologists Research Scholar Program
  • 2015
    Certificate of Merit, Radiology Society of North America Meeting
  • 2016
    Runner up, Surbeck Scholar’s Award, University of California, San Francisco
  • 2017
    Howard S. Stern Research Award, Society of Abdominal Radiology
  • 2017
    Prostate Cancer Foundation David Blitzer Young Investigator Award
  • 2017
    New Directions in Prostate Cancer Award, Prostate Cancer Program, UCSF
  • 2018
    Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Future Leaders Academy
  • 2019
    Dean's Prize in Mentoring, University of California, San Francisco
  • 2020
    Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging "Ones to Watch"

Selected Publications

  1. Parker MFL, López-Álvarez M, Alanizi AA, Luu JM, Polvoy I, Sorlin AM, Qin H, Lee S, Rabbitt SJ, Pichardo-González PA, Ordonez AA, Blecha J, Rosenberg OS, Flavell RR, Engel J, Jain SK, Ohliger MA, Wilson DM. Evaluating the Performance of Pathogen-Targeted Positron Emission Tomography Radiotracers in a Rat Model of Vertebral Discitis-Osteomyelitis. J Infect Dis. 2023 10 03; 228(Suppl 4):S281-S290.  View on PubMed
  2. Frame E, Bobba K, Gunter D, Mihailescu L, Bidkar A, Flavell R, Vetter K. Coded aperture and Compton imaging for the development of 225 Ac-based radiopharmaceuticals. Med Phys. 2023 Sep 06.  View on PubMed
  3. Sorlin AM, López-Álvarez M, Rabbitt SJ, Alanizi AA, Shuere R, Bobba KN, Blecha J, Sakhamuri S, Evans MJ, Bayles KW, Flavell RR, Rosenberg OS, Sriram R, Desmet T, Nidetzky B, Engel J, Ohliger MA, Fraser JS, Wilson DM. Chemoenzymatic Syntheses of Fluorine-18-Labeled Disaccharides from [18F] FDG Yield Potent Sensors of Living Bacteria In Vivo. J Am Chem Soc. 2023 08 16; 145(32):17632-17642.  View on PubMed
  4. Kevin Sweetwood, Jacqueline C. Junn, Yujie Qiao, Sigurd Berven, Vinil Shah, Miguel Hernandez Pampaloni, Robert R. Flavell, William Dillon, Jason Talbott, Courtney Lawhn-Heath. Beyond Anatomy: The Role of Molecular Imaging in the Evaluation of Low Back Pain. Current Radiology Reports. 2023 Jul 19; 1-11.  View on PubMed
  5. Klauser PC, Chopra S, Cao L, Bobba KN, Yu B, Seo Y, Chan E, Flavell RR, Evans MJ, Wang L. Covalent Proteins as Targeted Radionuclide Therapies Enhance Antitumor Effects. ACS Cent Sci. 2023 Jun 28; 9(6):1241-1251.  View on PubMed
  6. Sorlin AM, López-Álvarez M, Rabbitt SJ, Alanizi AA, Shuere R, Bobba KN, Blecha J, Sakhamuri S, Evans MJ, Bayles KW, Flavell RR, Rosenberg OS, Sriram R, Desmet T, Nidetzky B, Engel J, Ohliger MA, Fraser JS, Wilson DM. Chemoenzymatic syntheses of fluorine-18-labeled disaccharides from [ 18 F]FDG yield potent sensors of living bacteria in vivo. bioRxiv. 2023 May 20.  View on PubMed
  7. Bobba KN, Bidkar AP, Meher N, Fong C, Wadhwa A, Dhrona S, Sorlin A, Bidlingmaier S, Shuere B, He J, Wilson DM, Liu B, Seo Y, VanBrocklin HF, Flavell RR. Evaluation of 134Ce/134La as a PET Imaging Theranostic Pair for 225Ac α-Radiotherapeutics. J Nucl Med. 2023 07; 64(7):1076-1082.  View on PubMed
  8. Bidkar AP, Wang S, Bobba KN, Chan E, Bidlingmaier S, Egusa EA, Peter R, Ali U, Meher N, Wadhwa A, Dhrona S, Dasari C, Beckford-Vera D, Su Y, Tang R, Zhang L, He J, Wilson DM, Aggarwal R, VanBrocklin HF, Seo Y, Chou J, Liu B, Flavell RR. Treatment of Prostate Cancer with CD46-targeted 225Ac Alpha Particle Radioimmunotherapy. Clin Cancer Res. 2023 05 15; 29(10):1916-1928.  View on PubMed
  9. Li J, Huang T, Hua J, Wang Q, Su Y, Chen P, Bidlingmaier S, Li A, Xie Z, Bidkar AP, Shen S, Shi W, Seo Y, Flavell RR, Gioeli D, Dreicer R, Li H, Liu B, He J. CD46 targeted 212Pb alpha particle radioimmunotherapy for prostate cancer treatment. J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2023 Mar 11; 42(1):61.  View on PubMed
  10. Meher N, VanBrocklin HF, Wilson DM, Flavell RR. PSMA-Targeted Nanotheranostics for Imaging and Radiotherapy of Prostate Cancer. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2023 Feb 17; 16(2).  View on PubMed
  11. Chou J, Egusa EA, Wang S, Badura ML, Lee F, Bidkar AP, Zhu J, Shenoy T, Trepka K, Robinson TM, Steri V, Huang J, Wang Y, Small EJ, Chan E, Stohr BA, Ashworth A, Delafontaine B, Rottey S, Cooke KS, Hashemi Sadraei N, Yu B, Salvati M, Bailis JM, Feng FY, Flavell RR, Aggarwal R. Immunotherapeutic Targeting and PET Imaging of DLL3 in Small-Cell Neuroendocrine Prostate Cancer. Cancer Res. 2023 01 18; 83(2):301-315.  View on PubMed
  12. Li Y, Flavell RR, Juarez R, Chow M, Wu C, Tsai K, Daud A, Behr SC. Retrospective study of the incidence of sarcoidosis-like reaction in patients treated with immunotherapy. Clin Radiol. 2023 02; 78(2):e131-e136.  View on PubMed
  13. Anil Bidkar, Sinan Wang, Kondapa Bobba, Scott Bidlingmaier, Yang Su, Emily Egusa, Ryan Tang, Jonathan Chou, Rahul Aggarwal, Jiang He, Youngho Seo, Bin Liu, Robert Flavell. O-46 Treatment of prostate cancer xenografts with the targeted alpha-particle nanogenerator [225Ac]Ac-DOTA-YS5. Nuclear Medicine and Biology. 2022 Nov 1; 114:s31.  View on PubMed
  14. David Wilson, Anju Anju, Matthew Parker, Niranjan Meher, Joseph Blecha, Oren Rosenberg, Michael Ohliger, Robert Flavell. P-65 Cyclic [68Ga] and [18F]AlF-labeled peptides for specific detection of human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2. Nuclear Medicine and Biology. 2022 Nov 1; 114:s64-s65.  View on PubMed
  15. Meher N, Ashley GW, Bidkar AP, Dhrona S, Fong C, Fontaine SD, Beckford Vera DR, Wilson DM, Seo Y, Santi DV, VanBrocklin HF, Flavell RR. Prostate-Specific Membrane Antigen Targeted Deep Tumor Penetration of Polymer Nanocarriers. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2022 Nov 16; 14(45):50569-50582.  View on PubMed
  16. Shin J, Parker MFL, Zhu I, Alanizi A, Rodriguez CI, Liu R, Watchmaker PB, Kalita M, Blecha J, Luu J, Wright B, Lapi SE, Flavell RR, Okada H, Tlsty TD, Roybal KT, Wilson DM. Antigen-Dependent Inducible T-Cell Reporter System for PET Imaging of Breast Cancer and Glioblastoma. J Nucl Med. 2023 01; 64(1):137-144.  View on PubMed
  17. Parent EE, Savir-Baruch B, Gayed IW, Almaguel F, Chin BB, Pantel AR, Armstrong E, Morley A, Ippisch RC, Flavell RR. 177Lu-PSMA Therapy. J Nucl Med Technol. 2022 Sep; 50(3):205-212.  View on PubMed
  18. Ilona Polvoy, Robert R. Flavell, Oren S. Rosenberg, Michael A. Ohliger, David M. Wilson. Nuclear imaging of bacterial infection: the state of the art and future directions. Chinese Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging. 2022 Jul 25; 42(07):436-444.  View on PubMed
  19. Soe MH, Chiang JM, Flavell RR, Khanafshar E, Mendoza L, Kang H, Liu C. Non-Iodine-Avid Disease Is Highly Prevalent in Distant Metastatic Differentiated Thyroid Cancer With Papillary Histology. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2022 07 14; 107(8):e3206-e3216.  View on PubMed
  20. Polvoy I, Seo Y, Parker M, Stewart M, Siddiqua K, Manacsa HS, Ravanfar V, Blecha J, Hope TA, Vanbrocklin H, Flavell RR, Barry J, Hansen E, Villanueva-Meyer JE, Engel J, Rosenberg OS, Wilson DM, Ohliger MA. Imaging joint infections using D-methyl-11C-methionine PET/MRI: initial experience in humans. Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2022 09; 49(11):3761-3771.  View on PubMed

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