Tracing the path from health to disease: forwards and backwards


Charalampos Tsoumpas
University of Groningen


Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is currently underutilised and can provide even more valuable information. PET is not merely an imaging device, but a measurement device. It measures molecules and their concentration inside a living subject. And as by definition life is not a static process, PET measures how molecules travel inside our bodies and provides a direct way to measure the kinetics of biochemical reactions.

There are more technological developments needed to enable dynamic imaging and kinetics in clinical practice for a range of radioactive molecules. Furthermore, quantification of biological processes using PET has several challenges related to imaging a living subject including the effects of ionising radiation. Can we minimise the radiation dose per scan which will then make it easier to justify scanning a person with multiple radioactive molecules?

For example, imaging multiple molecules simultaneously will allow to evaluate pixel-by-pixel the potential performance of drugs and swiftly decide how to proceed with treatments. In addition, it can help measuring the potential crosstalk of diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases, or of different organs such as brain and heart, or gut and brain axes.

But more research is necessary to allow imaging two or more radioactive molecules simultaneously. Advancing PET technology can empower medicine by tracing several molecular pathways and interactions from human health to disease – forwards and backwards – and has a lot to offer for detecting and understanding disease processes and optimising precision medicine.

Design and layout: LINE UP boek en media bv | Riëtte van Zwol, Mirjam Kroondijk
Cover photo: Riemer Slart
Author photo: Phil L. Faulks
Photo: Jeroen Koeten
Illustration: Jens Maus, PET-schema.png, 1st April 2003, Wikimedia. Public Domain.

Published by University of Groningen Press
Broerstraat 4
9712 CP Groningen


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Author Biography

Charalampos Tsoumpas, University of Groningen

Professor Dr Ir Charalampos Tsoumpas is a Nuclear Physicist (University of Athens) and a Biomedical Engineer (Technical University of Athens & University of Patras) who joined the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the University of Groningen as a Full Professor in Quantification in Molecular Diagnostics & Radionuclide Therapy. His chair is with the Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Department at the University Medical Centre Groningen. Prof. Tsoumpas received his PhD on "Direct statistical parametric image estimation for linear pharmacokinetic models from quantitative positron emission tomography measurements" from Imperial College London in 2008 and worked as a post-doctoral fellow at King’s College London from 2008 to 2013. From 2013 to 2021 he was a Lecturer at the University of Leeds. Prof. Tsoumpas is Fellow of the Institute of Physics (IOP), Fellow of the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM), Fellow of Higher Education Academy and Senior Member of IEEE.

cover page inaugural lecture Charalampos Tsoumpas



March 16, 2023


Inaugural lecture, Inaugurale rede, Oratie, Harry Tsoumpas, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, University of Groningen, Faculteit Medische Wetenschappen, Faculty of Medical Sciences