Michael Stephen Placzek, PhD Candidate

Assistant Investigator
Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Mass General Research Institute
Assistant Professor of Radiology
Harvard Medical School
Research Staff
Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital
PhD Candidate Northeastern University 2013
addiction; alzheimer's disease; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; brain diseases; huntington's disease; molecular biology; mr-pet; multiple sclerosis; neurodegenerative disease

My research focuses on studying human brain diseases with translational molecular imaging - positron emission tomography (PET). Through a multi-faceted approach, we are working towards a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in brain diseases. Our work is applicable to a number of human diseases and disorders including psychiatric (e.g. opioid addiction) and neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease). Studying these diseases with PET requires certain tools, or radiotracers, which are designed to inform us how a particular target is behaving in a living subject. We use radiotracers and PET to study disease mechanisms, drug pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, neuropharmacology, and molecular neuropathology at disease onset or throughout disease progression. 

Given that there are countless molecular targets in the brain involved in disease, and scientists have only developed radiotracers for a small percentage of them, we are also working towards developing both new and improved PET radiotracers for studying neurological disorders. These tools will allows us to discover, study, diagnose, and treat brain diseases faster and more effectively than ever before.