Dr. Xiankai Sun is Director of Cyclotron and Radiochemistry Program in Department of Radiology and Advanced Imaging Research Center. He holds Dr. Jack Krohmer Professorship in Radiation Physics. In addition, Dr. Sun co-directs the Preclinical Nuclear Imaging Laboratory with Dr. Orhan K. Öz in Radiology, which is equipped with state-of-the-art radiochemistry instruments and nuclear imaging scanners (Siemens Inveon PET/CT Multimodality System and BioScan NanoSPECT/CT Plus System) for molecular imaging research in small animal models.

Dr. Sun obtained his B.S. in Chemistry from Wuhan University in China and Ph.D. in Supramolecular Chemistry (Advisor: Prof. Edward H. Wong) from University of New Hampshire. After three years of postdoctoral training under the mentorship of Prof. Michael J. Welch and Prof. Carolyn J. Anderson and then a short junior faculty stay at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, he joined the faculty of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in 2004, where he currently is a tenured associate professor of Southwestern Graduate School in the Graduate Program of Biomedical Engineering and the Graduate Track of Biomedical Molecular Imaging.

Dr. Sun’s expertise is in the design and synthesis of imaging probes and therapeutic agents for various diseases including cancer and diabetes. Funded by NIH, DOD, JDRFI, and CPRIT, his research projects include the development of biocompatible nanoscale scaffolds to enable multi-presentation of functionalities for detection and intervention of disease states; design and synthesis of bifunctional chelator scaffolds for imaging signal amplification; and preparation of targeted imaging probes for noninvasive assessment of pancreatic beta-cell mass and function.


Graduate School
University of New Hampshire (2000), 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

  • Department of Radiology and Advanced Imaging Research Center, UT Southwestern (2012)
  • Department of Radiology and Advanced Imaging Research Center, UT Southwestern (2004-2012)
  • Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO (2003-2004)