Xiankai Sun, Ph.D., is Professor of Radiology and the Advanced Imaging Research Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center, and Director of the Cyclotron & Radiochemistry Program. He holds the Dr. Jack Krohmer Professorship in Radiation Physics and is a member of the Graduate Program in Biomedical Engineering.

Originally from China, Dr. Sun received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Wuhan University and a master's degree in chemistry from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. He then obtained a doctoral degree in inorganic chemistry with a focus on design and synthesis of supramolecular clusters with pre-designed symmetries (advised by Edward H. Wong, Ph.D.) from the University of New Hampshire in Durham. He then embarked on three years of postdoctoral training under the mentorship of Michael J. Welch, Ph.D., and Carolyn J. Anderson, Ph.D.

Prior to joining the faculty at UT Southwestern in 2004, Dr. Sun served as a Research Instructor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Dr. Sun’s expertise is in the design and synthesis of molecular imaging probes and therapeutic agents for various diseases. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, his investigations focus on metabolic imaging with radioisotopomers and developing novel biocompatible scaffolds to enable multipresentation of molecular functionalities for detection and intervention of disease states.

In his role as Director of the Cyclotron and Radiochemistry Program, Dr. Sun focuses on making novel and investigational radiotracers available for preclinical, translational, and clinical research with positron emission tomography (PET). His goal is to positively impact the patient-care outcome in North Texas through the implementation of cutting-edge hybrid imaging methodologies of PET with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in adults and children. In addition, Dr. Sun co-directs the Preclinical Nuclear Imaging Laboratory with Orhan K. Öz, M.D, Ph.D., which is equipped with state-of-the-art small animal imaging scanners (Siemens Inveon PET/CT Multimodality System and BioScan NanoSPECT/CT Plus System) and analytical instruments for molecular imaging studies in diseased animal models.

Dr. Sun is an active member of the American Chemical Society, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, Society of Radiopharmaceutical Sciences, American Diabetes Association, and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.


Wuhan University (1986), Chemistry
Graduate School
Chinese Academy of Sciences (1989), Chemistry
Graduate School
University of New Hampshire (2000), Inorganic Chemistry

Research Interest

  • Design and synthesis of novel imaging probes for cancer and diabetes
  • Developing multimodality imaging methods to noninvasively and longitudinally monitor drug delivery and treatment efficacy


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

Glucose metabolism via the pentose phosphate pathway, glycolysis and Krebs cycle in an orthotopic mouse model of human brain tumors.
Marin-Valencia I, Cho SK, Rakheja D, Hatanpaa KJ, Kapur P, Mashimo T, Jindal A, Vemireddy V, Good LB, Raisanen J, Sun X, Mickey B, Choi C, Takahashi M, Togao O, Pascual JM, Deberardinis RJ, Maher EA, Malloy CR, Bachoo RM NMR in biomedicine 2012 Mar
Imaging Copper Metabolism Imbalance in Atp7b (-/-) Knockout Mouse Model of Wilson's Disease with PET-CT and Orally Administered (64)CuCl (2).
Peng F, Lutsenko S, Sun X, Muzik O Molecular imaging and biology : MIB : the official publication of the Academy of Molecular Imaging 2011 Dec
Recent advances in copper radiopharmaceuticals.
Hao G, Singh AN, Oz OK, Sun X Curr Radiopharm 2011 Apr 4 2 109-21
Luminescent gold nanoparticles with efficient renal clearance.
Zhou C, Long M, Qin Y, Sun X, Zheng J Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. 2011 Mar 50 14 3168-72
Transplantation of mesenchymal stem cells from young donors delays aging in mice.
Shen J, Tsai YT, Dimarco NM, Long MA, Sun X, Tang L Sci Rep 2011 1 67
PET with non-standard nuclides.
Hao G, Singh AN, Liu W, Sun X Curr Top Med Chem 2010 10 11 1096-112

Honors & Awards

  • Translational Image of the Year
    7th Annual Preclinical Image of the Year Contest (Siemens) (2010)
  • Pilot Research Award
    Society of Nuclear Medicine (2005)
  • Gloria and Robert Lyle Award
    University of New Hampshire (1998)

Professional Associations/Affiliations

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • American Chemical Society
  • American Diabetes Association
  • European Association for the Study of Diabetes
  • Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
  • Society of Radiopharmaceutical Sciences