St. Joseph’s in partnership with Lawson to become Canada’s first centre of excellence in molecular imaging and theranostics

In a Canadian first, Lawson Health Research Institute (Lawson) and St. Joseph’s Health Care London (St. Joseph’s), in partnership with GE HealthCare, will become a centre of excellence in personalized treatment of cancer and other diseases by advancing the powerful blend of precision diagnostic imaging and targeted therapy.

This rapidly emerging field of medicine is called molecular imaging and theranostics (MIT). Molecular imaging provides detailed imaging at the molecular level and theranostics is a term that combines the words therapeutics and diagnostics. Together, MIT is a two-pronged approach to diagnosing and treating cancers and other diseases that merges imaging with the use of radiotracers that can not only identify the location and extent of diseased tissues but also selectively destroy the abnormal cells while leaving surrounding healthy cells undamaged. 

Cyclotron & PET Radiochemistry Facility 

“The centre will confirm St. Joseph’s and the wider London medical and scientific community as national and international leaders in advancing MIT in the diagnosis of disease, for instance in the identification of cancer and its sub-types, to allow more treatment options for patients,” says Dr. Narinder Paul, Lawson Scientist, Chief, Medical Imaging at St. Joseph’s and Physician Executive, Medical Imaging at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC). “It will also allow for an expansion of scientific collaborations, increased numbers of scientific and medical learners, and access to the latest software to acquire and integrate imaging science with other patient information.”

The partnership with GE HealthCare will see St. Joseph’s become the first hospital in Canada to install the latest generation, state-of-the-art PET-CT from GE, which will be delivered to St. Joseph’s Hospital by September 2023. The new PET-CT will mean faster exams, better patient experience, more detailed images and increased accuracy in diagnosing disease at a lower dose of radiation for patients. It will also expand clinical care at St. Joseph’s by significantly enhancing research through the Imaging Research Group at Lawson, working together with researchers at LHSC, the London Regional Cancer Program, and Western University.

New OMNI PET-CT Machine

“We will leverage the combined scientific expertise and innovation of scientists from GE HealthCare and Lawson to maximize the future opportunities of molecular imaging theranostics made possible through PET- CT imaging and be leaders in Canada in this area of medical science,” says Dr. David Hill (D.Phil), Lawson’s Scientific Director. 

As a dedicated MIT centre of excellence, St. Joseph’s will…
•    Advance innovation and expand the science in precision imaging of disease through Lawson, and broaden the potential of PET-CT imaging
•    Develop new treatment options for patients with cancer and other diseases
•    Examine how to maximize the opportunities of digital health technologies to improve access for patients across Canada and optimize their treatment journeys 
•    Create a knowledge dissemination hub for Canada to educate and train others in the use of advanced imaging technologies, including how to organize hospital services to maximize access to patients and improve the health care system for all Canadians.

“St. Joseph’s is proud to be in partnership with GE HealthCare on this exciting opportunity to transform the care journey and outcomes for patients with cancer and other diseases, not only locally and regionally, but also nationally,” says Roy Butler (PhD), President and CEO of St. Joseph’s.  

For patients seen in London, the benefits will include expanded use of PET-CT, the ability to extract more information from their diagnostic images more rapidly and with less radiation exposure compared to current procedures, greater diagnostic and treatment accuracy, and new options for treatment, particularly for cancers that are more difficult to treat.  

“A personalized approach to medical care requires a very detailed understanding of the localization of disease and potential response to different treatment options,” says Dr. Paul who is also the Chair of Medical Imaging at Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University. “We will be able to offer patients across our region access to the latest therapeutic options based on a deeper understanding of the nature of their individual disease conditions gained through next generation medical imaging.”

At its core, theranostics is about treating each patient as an individual, “recognizing that the same treatment plan doesn’t work for everyone – with the goal of providing more efficient and effective medical care,” adds says Mike Hamilton, President, GE HealthCare Canada. “This collaboration aims to advance this practice for the benefit of clinicians and patients around the world.”

St. Joseph’s and Lawson have invested in critical MIT infrastructure for more than two decades with an on-site cyclotron at St. Joseph’s Hospital, a radiochemistry laboratory, scientists to make the clinical grade reagents, Canada’s first PET-CT (2002), Canada’s first whole body PET-MRI (2012), and now Canada’s first next-generation PET-CT from GE HealthCare, says Dr. Ting-Yim Lee (PhD), Lawson’s Director of PET/CT Research and medical physicist at St. Joseph’s Hospital. There are also clinical trials research teams and state-of-the-art PET-CT cameras across London’s hospitals and Western, dedicated facilities at Western to develop new probes used to detect and diagnose disease, and the London Regional Cancer Program at LHSC. 


In addition, there has been investment in research leadership roles through St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation. Three donor-funded research chairs will be contributing to this important work.  

“This makes the city the obvious location to maximize the development of this exciting new science for the benefit of patients,” says Dr. Lee. “London has an established record of working in partnership with global companies in the field of medical imaging and have together generated many discoveries that are now made available as best patient care.”

The new PET-CT at St. Joseph’s will replace an aging machine and has been made possible in part through the generosity of donors to St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation, which is contributing $1 million to state-of-the-art machine. 

Media Contact
Celine Zadorsky

Communications Consultant & External Relations
Lawson Health Research Institute
T: 519-685-8500 ext. 75664
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