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Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer CenterVanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center

Wellington  Pham

Wellington Pham, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Radiology
Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Contact Information:

Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science
11161 21st Avenue South
MCN AAA-3117
Nashville, TN 37232-2310


Professor Pham received his B.S. in Chemistry with honors from the University of Toledo and Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry in the same university. Following two postdoctoral fellowships at UCLA Medical School and Harvard Medical School in PET chemistry and molecular imaging, respectively; in 2005, he was an Instructor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School.

Professor Pham received his B.S. in Chemistry with honors from the University of Toledo and Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry in the same university. Following two postdoctoral fellowships at UCLA Medical School and Harvard Medical School in PET chemistry and molecular imaging, respectively; in 2005, he was an Instructor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Radiology at Vanderbilt Medical School. He is a member of the editorial advisory boards for the Journal of Nanomedicine and Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

  •          Ph.D. - University of Toledo
  •          Postdoc Fellow - UCLA Medical School, 2000-2001
  •          Postdoc Fellow - Harvard Medical School, 2001-2005
Research Description

Our ongoing investigation emphasizes on cell therapy using a transgenic and preclinical mouse model. We have employed integrated nanotechnology-based platforms to achieve a multifunctional and multiplexed nanovaccine delivery system for cancer therapy. Aside from highlighting the contrast properties and carrier features available in nanotechnology, the overall goals of our studies are to (i) provide microanatomical and functional imaging feedback of the therapeutic process and (ii) realize an approach for longitudinal treatment and monitoring.
In another project, we developed fluorescence nanoparticles for detection of colorectal cancer using fluorescence colonoscopy. Currently, the nanoparticles are prepared in GMP/GLP facilities in Japan.

Our second project focuses on the development of a novel synthetic chemistry approach to the generation of probes intended specifically for imaging Alzheimer's disease (AD). The significance of this work lies in the development of a versatile vehicle which, after being loaded with imaging cargo, can be delivered to the brain. Furthermore, our laboratory currently employes HTS and earosolized methods to facilitate the discovery of novel chemical genetics for treatment of AD. Considering the tremendous contribution made by imaging in understanding the pathogenesis of AD, the results obtained through this research will have a strong influence on current efforts to find reliable biomarkers of this disease.

  • Richard McClure, Daijiro Yanagisawa, Donald Stec, Dave Abdollahian, Dmitry Koktysh, Dritan Xhillari, Rudolph Jaeger, Gregg Stanwood, Eduard Chekmenev, Ikuo Tooyama, John C. Gore and Wellington Pham. Inhalable Curcumin: Offering the potential for translation to imaging and treatment of Alzheimer's disease. 2015.
  • Sakuma S, Kumagai H, Shimosato M, Kitamura T, Mohri K, Ikejima T, Hiwatari KI, Koike S, Tobita E, McClure R, Gore JC and Pham W. Toxicity studies of coumarin 6-encapsulated polystyrene nanosphere conjugated with peanut agglutinin and poly(N-vinylacetamide) as a colonoscopic imaging agent in rats. 2015.
  • Shinji Sakuma, James Yu, Timothy Quang, Ken-ichiro Hiwatari, Hironori Kumagai, Stephanie Kao, Alex Holt, Jalysa Erskind, Richard McClure, Michael Siuta, Tokio Kitamura, Seiji Koike, Kevin Wilson, Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Kay Washington, Reed Omary, John Gore and Wellington Pham. Fluorescence-based endoscopic imaging of Thomsen-Friedenreich antigen to improve early detection of colorectal cancer. 2015.
  • Roman V. Shchepin, Wellington Pham, Eduard Y. Chekmenev. Dephosphorylation and biodistribution of 1-13C-phospholactate in vivo. 2014.
  • Tokio Kitamura, Shinji Sakuma, Haruki Higashino, Yoshie Masaoka, Makoto Kataoka, Shinji Yamashita, Ken-ichiro Hiwatari, Hironori Kumagai, Naoki Morimoto, Seiji Koike, Etsuo Tobita, Robert M. Hoffman, John C. Gore and Wellington Pham. In vivo imaging of colorectal tumors on the roden instestinal mucosa by lectin-immobilized fluorescent nanospheres. 2014.
  • Friedman H, Holt AT, Pham W. Research Highlights: Highlights from the latest articles in nanomedicine. 2013.
  • Kumagai H, Pham W, Kataoka M, Hiwatari KI, McBride J, Wilson K, Tachikawa H, Kimura R, Nakamura K, Liu E, Gore J, Sakuma S. Multifunctional Nanobeacon for Imaging Thomsen-Friedenreich Antigen-Associated Colorectal Cancer. International Journal of Cancer. 2013; 132: 2107-17.
  • Richard A McClure, Chad W Chumbley, Michelle Reyzer, Kevin Wilson, Richard M Caprioli, John C Gore and Wellington Pham. Identification of promethazine as an amyloid-binding molecule using a fluorescence high-throughput assay and MALDI imaging mass spectrometry. 2013.
  • Shinji Toki, Reed A. Omary, Kevin Wilson, John C. Gore, R. Stokes Peebles, Jr., Wellington Pham. A comprehensive analysis of transfection-assisted delivery of iron oxide nanoparticles to dendritic cells. 2013.
  • Xie J, Wang C, Virostko J, Manning HC, Pham W, Bauer J, Gore JC. A novel reporter system for molecular imaging and high-througput screening of anticancer drugs. 2013.
  • Nolting D, Nickels M, Tantawy MN, Yu JYH, Xie JP, Peterson TE, Crews BA, Marnett L, Gore JC and Pham W. Convergent synthesis and evaluation of 18F-labeled azulene COX2 probes for cancer imaging. 2012.
  • Nolting DD, Nickels ML, Guo N, Pham W. Molecular Imaging Probe Development: A Chemistry Perspective. Am J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2012; 2: 273-311.
  • Wellington Pham. Quantitative Analysis and Safety Issues of Nanotechnology in Healthcare Research. J Mol Biomark Diagn. 2012; 3((5)): 1000e111.
  • Dmitry Koktysh, Vanessa Bright, Wellington Pham. Fluorescent Magnetic Hybrid Nanoprobe for Multimodal Bioimaging. Nanotechnology. 2011; 22: 275606.
  • Kobuka S, Kremers GJ, Cobb JG, Baheza R, Xie JP, Kuley A, Zhu M, Pham W. Induction of Antitumor Immunity by Dendritic Cells Loaded with Membrane Translocating MUCIN-1 Peptide Antigen. Translational Oncology. 2011; 4((1)): 1-8.
  • Mackay, PS, Kremers GJ, Kobukai S, Cobb JG, Kuley A, Rosenthal SJ, Koktysh DS, Gore JC, Pham W. MULTIMODAL IMAGING OF DENDRITIC CELLS USING A NOVEL HYBRID MAGNETO-OPTICAL NANOPROBE. Nanomedicine:Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine. 2011; 7: 489-96.
  • Nolting DD, Gore JC and Pham W. Near-Infrared Dyes: Probe Development and Applications in Optical Molecular Imaging. Curr Org Synth. 2011; 8: 521-34.
  • Sakuma S, Higashino H, Oshitani H, Masaoka Y, Kataoka M, Yamashita S, Hiwatari KI, Tachikawa H, Kimura R, Nakamura K, Kumagai H, Gore JC, Pham w. Essence of affinity and specificity of peanut agglutinin-immobilized fluorescent nanospheres with surface poly(N-vinylacetamide) chains for colorectal cancer. European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics. 2011; 79: 537-43.
  • Sakuma S, Kataoka M, Higashino H, Yano T, Masaoka Y, Yamashita S, Hiwatari K, Kimura R, Nakamura K, Kumagai H, Gore J, and Pham W. A Potential of Peanut Agglutinin-Immobilized Fluorescent Nanospheres as a Safe Candidate of Diagnostic Drugs for Colonoscopy. European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 2011; 42((4)): 340-7.
  • Sakuma S, Yamashita S, Hiwatari KI, Hoffman RM, Pham W. Lectin-immobilized fluorescent nanospheres for targeting to colorectal cancer from a physicochemical perspective. Curr Drug Discov Technol. 2011; 8: 367-78.
  • Sampson UK, Perati RR, Prins PA, Pham W, Liu Z, Harell F, Linton MF, Gore JC, Kon V, Fazio S. Quantitative estimates of variability of in vivo ultrasound imaging measurements of mouse aorta important for studies of abdominal aortic aneurysms and related arterial diseases. J Ultras Med. 2011; 30: 773-84.
  • Kobukai S, Baheza R, Cobb J, Virostko J, Xie JP, Gillman A, Koktysh D, Kerns D, Does M, Gore JC and Pham W. Magnetic Nanoparticles for Imaging Dendritic Cells. Magn Reson Med. 2010; 63: 1383-90.
  • Nickels M, Xie JP, Cobb J, Gore JC and Pham W. Functionalization of Iron Oxide Nanoparticles With a Versatile Epoxy Amine Linker. J Mater Chem. 2010; 20: 4776-80.
  • Nolting DD, Nickels M, Price R, Gore JC, Pham W. Synthesis of Bicyclo[5.3.0]Azulene Derivatives. Nat Protoc. 2009; 4: 1113-7.
  • Pham W, Kobukai S, Hotta C, Gore J. Dendritic Cells: Therapy and Imaging. Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2009; 9((5)): 539-64.
  • Pham W, Cassell L, Gillman A, Koktysh D and Gore JC. A Near-Infrared Dye for Multichannel Imaging. Chem Commun. 2008; 16: 1895-7.
  • Medarova Z, Pham W, Farrar C, Petkova V, Moore A. In Vivo Imaging of siRNA Delivery and Silencing in Tumors. Nat Med. 2007; 13((3)): 372-7.
  • Pham W, Xie JP and Gore JC. Tracking The Migration of Dendritic Cells By In Vivo Optical Imaging. Neoplasia. 2007; 9((12)): 1130-7.
  • Medarova Z, Pham W, Kim Y, Dai G, Moore A. In Vivo Imaging of Tumor Response to Therapy Using a Dual-Modality Imaging Strategy. Int. J. Cancer. 2006; 118: 2796-802.
  • Pham W, Pantazopoulos P, Moore A. Imaging Farnesyl Protein Transferase Using a Topologically Activated Probe. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2006; 128((36)): 11736-7.
  • Pham W, Medarova Z, Moore A.. Synthesis and application of a water-soluble near-infrared dye for cancer detection using optical imaging. Bioconjugate Chem. 2005; 16: 735-40.
  • Pham W, Zhao BQ, Lo EH, Medarova Z, Rosen B, Moore A.. Crossing the blood-brain barrier: a potential application of myristoylated polyarginine for in vivo neuroimaging. Neuroimage. 2005; 28: 287-92.
  • Chen JW, Pham W, Weissleder R, Bogdanov A, Jr. Human myeloperoxidase: a potential target for molecular MR imaging in atherosclerosis. Magn. Reson. Med. 2004; 52: 1021-8.
  • Pham W, Choi Y, Weissleder R, Tung CH. Developing a peptide-based near-infrared molecular probe for protease sensing. Bioconjugate Chem. (Special feature on imaging chemistry). 2004; 15: 1403-7.
  • Pham W, Kircher MF, Weissleder R, Tung CH. Enhancing membrane permeability by fatty acylation of oligoarginine peptides. Chembiochem. 2004; 5: 1148-51.
  • Pham W, Lai WF, Weissleder R, Tung CH. High efficiency synthesis of a bioconjugatable near-infrared fluorochrome. Bioconjugate Chem. 2003; 14: 1048-51.
  • Pham W, Weissleder R, Tung C-H. A practical approach for the preparation of monofunctional azulenyl squaraine dye. Tetrahedron Lett. 2003; 44: 3975-8.
  • Pham W, Weissleder R, Tung C-H. An azulene dimer as a near-infrared quencher. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2002; 41: 3659-62.
  • Pham W, Weissleder R, Tung C-H. Intermolecular [8+2] cycloaddition reactions of 2H-3-methoxycarbonylcyclohepta[b]furan-2-one with vinyl ethers. Tetrahedron Lett. 2001; 43: 19-20.
  • Krishnan V, Pham W, Messer WS, Jr., Peseckis SM. First fatty acylated dipeptides to affect muscarinic receptor ligand binding. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 1999; 9: 3363-8.