The academic research program of Ann-Marie Broome, Ph.D., MBA, the Director of Molecular Imaging of the Medical University of South Carolina’s Center for Biomedical Imaging and Director of Small Animal Imaging of MUSC’s Hollings Cancer Center, is devoted to the study and understanding of different diseases for the purposes of detecting them earlier and improving therapeutic efficacy–the hallmarks of the molecular imaging field. Molecular imaging, a cross-disciplinary field combining science, engineering and medicine, bridges basic and clinically translatable research. Its ultimate goal is to characterize and measure biological processes at the cellular and molecular levels both noninvasively and in real-time. Dr. Broome’s research utilizes bio-inspired nanotechnology to study cancer in its earliest stages of progression, by developing novel multi-modal contrast agents and multi-functional delivery vehicles to target and monitor therapeutic response. By exploiting unique validated, disease-associated changes in gene and protein expression, also known as the cancer signature, Dr. Broome is able to bioengineer theranostic agents to selectively and robustly image the cellular status of genetically distinct cancers, the gold standard of personalized medicine, thereby facilitating detection, diagnosis, assessment of progression and prediction of treatment outcome. This increased selectivity and sensitivity could also lead to meaningful improvements in determining a tumor’s location, focality, extent and differentiation in relation to the cancer microenvironment.
Before coming to MUSC, as a primary investigator (PI) and co-PI on several funded NIH and university-sponsored grants, she laid the groundwork for research into the development of platform imaging technologies that can target and visualize multiple biomarkers simultaneously. Additionally, her laboratory engineered several animal models of inaccessible or surgically challenging tumors, such as the orthotopic human brain tumor model for glioblastomas. Currently, Dr. Broome is the PI of a multi-institutional NIH/NIBIB R01 grant investigating novel molecular imaging paradigms to image tumor uptake, accumulation and activation of hydrophobic photosensitizing agents. In this project, she is able to monitor the drug response using the intrinsic fluorescence properties of the drug and to quantify its impact on tumor progression. She is also PI on a Department of Defense Peer-Reviewed Cancer Research Program Idea Award examining split-reporters to achieve chemical resolution of cancer protein profiles using molecular imaging.