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. 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 Mar 14.  View on PubMed
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. Thomas A. Hope, Rahul Raj Aggarwal, Mallika Sachdev Dhawan, Robin Kate Kelley, Robert R. Flavell, Courtney Lawhn Heath, Yan Li, Sima P. Porten, Hope S. Rugo, Sue S. Yom, Robin Ippisch, Vadim S Koshkin. Imaging of solid tumors using 68Ga-FAP-2286. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2022 Jun 1; 40(16_suppl):3059-3059.  View on PubMed
  13. Liu X, Tang S, Mu C, Qin H, Cui D, Lai YC, Riselli AM, Delos Santos R, Carvajal L, Gebrezgiabhier D, Bok RA, Chen HY, Flavell RR, Gordon JW, Vigneron DB, Kurhanewicz J, Larson PEZ. Development of specialized magnetic resonance acquisition techniques for human hyperpolarized [13 C,15 N2 ]urea + [1-13 C]pyruvate simultaneous perfusion and metabolic imaging. Magn Reson Med. 2022 09; 88(3):1039-1054.  View on PubMed
  14. Kondapa Bobba, Cyril Fong, Anil Bidkar, Ryan Tang, Scott Bidlingmaier, Bin Liu, Youngho Seo, Henry VanBrocklin, Robert Flavell. O-08 Efficient chelation of 134Ce/La using the macrocyclic chelators DOTA and Macropa as potential PET imaging agents. Nuclear Medicine and Biology. 2022 May 1; 108:s8-s9.  View on PubMed
  15. 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 CD46 targeted, Actinium-225 labelled antibody for treatment of prostate cancer xenografts. Nuclear Medicine and Biology. 2022 May 1; 108:s31.  View on PubMed
  16. Kondapa Bobba, Anil Bidkar, Sinan Wang, Scott Bidlingmaier, Ryan Tang, Yang Su, Henry VanBrocklin, Bin Liu, Youngho Seo, Robert Flavell. P-003 Influence of short PEG linkers on biodistribution of 225Ac-Macropa-YS5, an immunoconjugate for treating CD46 expressing cancer. Nuclear Medicine and Biology. 2022 May 1; 108:s53.  View on PubMed
  17. Beckford-Vera DR, Flavell RR, Seo Y, Martinez-Ortiz E, Aslam M, Thanh C, Fehrman E, Pardons M, Kumar S, Deitchman AN, Ravanfar V, Schulte B, Wu IK, Pan T, Reeves JD, Nixon CC, Iyer NS, Torres L, Munter SE, Hyunh T, Petropoulos CJ, Hoh R, Franc BL, Gama L, Koup RA, Mascola JR, Chomont N, Deeks SG, VanBrocklin HF, Henrich TJ. First-in-human immunoPET imaging of HIV-1 infection using 89Zr-labeled VRC01 broadly neutralizing antibody. Nat Commun. 2022 03 09; 13(1):1219.  View on PubMed
  18. Lawhn-Heath C, Hope TA, Martinez J, Fung EK, Shin J, Seo Y, Flavell RR. Dosimetry in radionuclide therapy: the clinical role of measuring radiation dose. Lancet Oncol. 2022 02; 23(2):e75-e87.  View on PubMed
  19. Meher N, Seo K, Wang S, Bidkar AP, Fogarty M, Dhrona S, Huang X, Tang R, Blaha C, Evans MJ, Raleigh DR, Jun YW, VanBrocklin HF, Desai TA, Wilson DM, Ozawa T, Flavell RR. Synthesis and Preliminary Biological Assessment of Carborane-Loaded Theranostic Nanoparticles to Target Prostate-Specific Membrane Antigen. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2021 Nov 24; 13(46):54739-54752.  View on PubMed
  20. Miyahira AK, Zarif JC, Coombs CC, Flavell RR, Russo JW, Zaidi S, Zhao D, Zhao SG, Pienta KJ, Soule HR. Prostate cancer research in the 21st century; report from the 2021 Coffey-Holden prostate cancer academy meeting. Prostate. 2022 02; 82(2):169-181.  View on PubMed

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