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Hull Molecular Imaging Centre

Hull Molecular Imaging Centre

The Hull Molecular Imaging Centres are a group of medical imaging research facilities that improve access to the best standard of diagnostic care for cancer patients.

Professor Steve Archibald

"367,000 new cancer cases in the UK every year - that's around 1,000 every day (2015-2017). Every two minutes, someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer".

The more information about a patient's cancer, the higher the chance of finding the most effective treatment. Molecular imaging is a type of medical imaging that provides a more accurate picture of what is happening inside the body than more traditional diagnostic procedures such as x-rays, CT scans and ultrasound. Positron emission tomography (PET) scanning is one of the most frequently used molecular imaging procedures. These insights enable doctors to better diagnose cancer, analyse how far it has spread and decide which is the best treatment. Molecular imaging is highly effective at detecting cancer, brain disorders, heart conditions and other diseases. Unfortunately, such advanced diagnostic capability was previously unavailable to patients in the Humber region, leading to unsatisfactory patient treatment and poorer outcomes.


Group lead

Professor Steve Archibald

Telephone +44 (0)1482 465488

The Approach

The Hull Molecular Research Centres is a group of medical-imaging research facilities operating from three sites. Our mission is to improve the availability and capabilities of nuclear imaging of cancer and cardiac disease. Molecular imaging with PET lets us detect the molecular processes that underpin disease without the need for invasive surgery. It means therapy can be stratified to the patients with the best chance of responding. PET can also detect whether patients are responding to therapy early on, allowing treatment to be altered quickly if it is of little or no benefit.

The University of Hull is the only UK site with a research-dedicated cyclotron for preclinical research. This allows us to focus on new tracer development and the delivery of research projects with academic and industrial partners. A unique consortium of the University of Hull and Hull University Teaching Hospitals (HUTH) NHS Trust formed a partnership with the Daisy Appeal and raised over £8.5 million to build the state-of-the-art Hull Molecular Imaging Centre at Hull's Castle Hill Hospital.

The three research sites are the PET Research Centre (PETRC), the Molecular Imaging Research Centre (MIRC) and the Jack Brignall PET-CT Clinical Scanning Centre, with over £15 million in total investment. These integrated research and clinical facilities provide diagnostic and patient treatment that is among the best in the UK.



  • To develop novel radiotracers for PET/SPECT imaging
  • To image established radiotracers to probe biological questions
  • To develop dose-on-demand technologies to improve widespread international use of PET imaging / Dose-on-demand radiopharmaceuticals
  • PET imaging of nano/microparticles
  • Chemokine receptor imaging
  • Mitochondrial targeted PET/Optical agents
  • Microfluidic tracer production
  • Imaging of tissue engineering constructs
  • PET imaging of photodynamic therapy

"We want to see what's happening inside you and see that to great detail. The excitement is about what's developing and finding signs of things like Alzheimer's disease before they develop."

Professor Steve Archibald - Project leader, Professor in Molecular Imaging

The Impact

Professor Steve Archibald and his team have been able to synthesise radiotracers, provide radiopharmaceuticals and give biomolecular process input for projects in clinical translation involving national and international collaborators. The research projects range from optimising the amounts of drugs delivered to patients, improving the understanding of biochemical processes and developing new scanning protocols to determining the timing of scans to maximise the potential of a successful clinical outcome.

Research by the University of Hull team has underpinned the investment in the next generation of tracers and technologies. A collaborative team was developed for molecular imaging research across multiple NHS departments and University disciplines, ensuring that service delivery for HUTH NHS is of the highest standard. The ongoing clinical trials upskilled the local workforce and enhanced their ability to handle an increased range of patient conditions. NHS staff are integrated into the University teams, and the research relationship with HUTH NHS has led to the development of integrated research facilities at the hospital sites and a significant change in the practice and delivery of NHS radiopharmacy in Hull. These changes have improved the facilities for delivery of radiopharmacy and reduced the risk of patient service failure to ensure that all patients can receive their diagnosis as rapidly as possible. 

In addition, the facility has collaboration agreements for research with other institutions and commercial organisations. These are in place to supply tracers to Universities and research facilities, making our centre a focus for translational medical imaging research in the North of England. The University of Hull has hosted placement students, internships, PhD studentships and visiting scientists from countries including Uganda, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, France, Turkey and Thailand.

Research Centres

PET Research Centre (PETRC)

The availability of new types of scans tested in the University PET Research Centre has improved the capabilities of Nuclear Cardiology at Castle Hill Hospital. These include patients with amyloid scans, sarcoidosis and drug delivery to the lung, with more than 50 patients benefitting per annum.

The centre provides:

".. a continued and significant improvement in the delivery of these diagnostic services has resulted in an improved standard of patient care. This partnership approach has enabled the PET Research Centre (PETRC) to increase its throughput and effectively cope with an ever-increasing number of patient scans.

David Haire - Project Director, Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Molecular Imaging Research Centre (MIRC)

This centre improves patient care facilities and increases clinical trial opportunities at Castle Hill Hospital, serving Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire. These innovative medical imaging technologies employed at this site have significantly impacted patient health and NHS services while facilitating international research interactions and attracting skilled workers to the region.

Jack Brignall PET-CT Clinical Scanning Centre

This site houses a Siemens Biograph mCT Flow Edge PET-CT scanner and accommodates a groundbreaking dose-on-demand cyclotron facility based around a GE GENTrace cyclotron. The centre has replaced a limited capacity mobile scanner that was only based at the hospital for two days a week. This permanent fixture increased the number of scans three-fold, and its state-of-the-art equipment has improved the healthcare and experience of thousands of patients.

Molecular Imaging at Castle Hill
Molecular Imaging at Castle Hill Hospital


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