Imaging Sciences—Integrated Research Facility at Fort Detrick

In vivo imaging provides meaningful information for the characterization of infectious diseases, including the ones caused by high-consequence pathogens.

The IRF-Frederick is equipped with a one-of-a-kind multi-modality imaging suite, containing both clinical and pre-clinical imaging scanners, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), computed tomography (CT), and optical imaging (OI).

Thanks to these capabilities, the IRF-Frederick is uniquely positioned in the animal biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) space to support external collaborators by developing and providing qualitative and quantitative structural and functional imaging readouts that can complement and enhance cageside assessments and laboratory tests. These readouts can be obtained in several animal models of infectious diseases, ranging from mice to nonhuman primates (NHPs).

Synergy with the IRF-Frederick Artificial Intelligence (AI) Team allows for development of sophisticated image-analysis methods based on AI/machine learning (ML)/deep learning (DL) algorithms.

Main Areas of Focus

  • In vivo imaging of small animals and NHPs to assess infectious diseases
  • Development, validation, and application of image acquisition and analysis protocols tailored to the investigation of high-consequence pathogens
  • Morphological and functional MRI and CT imaging to evaluate changes in organ function after pathogen exposure
  • Molecular MR, PET, and optical imaging of host responses and organ damage


  • MR and CT image acquisition and quantitative analyses pipelines to quantify changes in organ volume and structure after pathogen exposure
  • MR and CT quantitative imaging protocols to evaluate organ function after exposure
  • Semi-automatic and automatic image processing, in synergy with the AI Team
  • PET and MR molecular imaging agents to probe specific processes related to immune host responses and/or organ pathophysiology
  • Dedicated commercial and custom-made software for quantitative image analysis
  • High-performance computing capabilities
  • AI, ML, and DL algorithms for application to imaging and clinical biomarkers
  • Access to NIH NHLBI Chemistry and Synthesis Center (CSC, director Rolf Swenson) for development or manufacture of imaging probes
  • Imaging to evaluate basic, pre-clinical, and translational physiological and pathophysiological disease mechanisms and processes
  • Imaging as a tool to enhance pharmaceutical development, measuring countermeasure efficacy, and understanding of drug mechanisms
  • Using imaging to detect biomarkers for infectious disease
  • Data sharing with the research community
Remote video URL

[fluorine-18]-albumin (18F-albumin) positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) fusion images on a healthy rhesus monkey (Macacca mulatta) show the distribution and local accumulation of blood pool noninvasively; the color gradient indicates relative concentration of 18F-albumin, with a higher concentration in red and a lower concentration in blue.

Credit: NIAID IRF-Frederick

Remote video URL

The longitudinal [fluorine-18]fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG) positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) fusion images of a SARS-CoV-2-infected aged hamster show bilateral increases of metabolic activities in the lung, which correspond to lung lesions on CT images from baseline (BL) to Day 8 (D8). See more SARS-CoV-2 imaging examples.

Credit: NIAID IRF-Frederick


Integrated Research Facility at Fort Detrick (IRF-Frederick)

Contact Information

Jens H. Kuhn, M.D., Ph.D., Ph.D., M.S.
Principal Scientist and Director of Virology (Contractor)

Claudia Calcagno Mani, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Supervisory/Study Director, Virology and Imaging (Contractor)



All procedures are well-documented and adhere to standard operating procedures (SOPs), methods, or study-approved plans and agreements.

Collaboration Opportunities

  • Studies relevant to human disease
  • Use of surrogate systems to test clinical hypotheses
  • Use of biological systems to answer questions regarding disease pathogenesis and strategies for intervention including antimicrobials, vaccines, and other countermeasures
  • Developing and incorporating cutting-edge technologies to understand infectious diseases

Read more about how to work with the IRF-Frederick.