Monica Shokeen, PhD

Assistant Professor of Radiology and Biomedical Engineering

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Education:
  • University of Delhi, New Delhi, India B.S. (Honors): 1997- Chemistry
  • Kurukshetra University, India M.B.A.: 1999- International Business
  • Washington University in Saint Louis Ph.D.: 2006- Inorganic Chemistry
  • Washington University School of Medicine, Postdoctoral Researcher: 2006-2009

Shokeen Lab Research Philosophy: Imaging sciences will continue to unravel the unknown, and we are dedicated to playing our part in this endeavor through innovative research.

The Shokeen Lab is focused on developing novel approaches for imaging cancer, autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases. Our research is interdisciplinary – comprising of cancer biology, chemistry and engineering. As imaging scientists driven by patient needs, Dr. Shokeen’s group is involved in all aspects of bench to bedside translation. Her research program is dedicated towards developing and evaluating different molecular constructs, such as small molecules, peptides, multi-functional nanoparticles, and antibodies for imaging multiple myeloma with high sensitivity and specificity. The engineers in her group have designed efficient, accurate and high-throughput image analysis techniques for extracting molecular features from structural and functional imaging data. One of the unique aspects of her lab is the use of multi-modal nuclear, optical, and magnetic resonance imaging platforms for molecular mechanistic evaluations.


Selected Research Projects:

MOLECULAR IMAGING OF TUMORS AND TUMOR MICROENVIRONMENT FOR DETECTION, STAGING AND STRATIFICATION

  1. FUNCTIONAL READOUT OF TUMOR-STROMA INTERACTIONS – CORRELATING CHANGES IN RECEPTOR EXPRESSION WITH TUMOR METABOLISM PRE AND POST-THERAPY.

    Our oncologic imaging efforts are focused on multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma is the second most commonly diagnosed hematologic cancer that is characterized by immunoglobulin secreting plasma B-cells. It is a debilitating disease that remains incurable. The interaction of multiple myeloma cell surface integrins with the stromal microenvironment plays a defining role in the pathogenesis of multiple myeloma. Activated form of the receptor very late antigen-4 (VLA-4; also known as integrin α4β1) is overexpressed on the surface of multiple myeloma cells. With NIH support, we have pioneered the VLA-4 targeted molecular imaging of multiple myeloma in different in vitro and in vivo models. After completing successful pre-clinical evaluation, we are currently leading the first-in-human VLA-4 targeted 64Cu-LLP2A/PET/MRI pilot imaging trial in multiple myeloma patients. This work will fulfill a significant unmet need in multiple myeloma patient care by evaluating a specific imaging agent that will complement current imaging techniques.

  1. MOLECULAR IMAGING OF MULTIPLE MYELOMA WITH [18F]-FDOPA AND [11C]-ACETATE PET/CT.
    Metabolic imaging is a powerful tool in the diagnosis, management, and evaluation of treatment response in a variety of cancer types. [18F]-DOPA/PET has shown promise pre-clinically and clinically in various cancers expressing the L-type amino acid transporter (LAT1). We are evaluating the application of [18F]-DOPA/PET in multiple myeloma mouse models. The long term goal is to stratify patients for tailored therapies. Further, in collaboration with the Weilbaecher group, we have found that myeloma cells are dependent on acetate and monocarboxylic acid anabolic metabolism. These underlying mechanisms can be utilized for optimizing treatment regimens for myeloma patients using [11C]-acetate PET/CT imaging.
  1. IMAGING OF BONE MARROW WITH MRI.
    To assess changes in the bone marrow micro-environmental factors and therapy efficacy, there is a need for noninvasive, non-ionizing, longitudinal, preclinical methods. Our recent work demonstrated the feasibility of preclinical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for longitudinal imaging of diffuse tumor burden in a syngeneic, immunocompetent model of intramedullary multiple myeloma. Our results highlighted preclinical MRI markers for assessing tumor burden and bone marrow heterogeneity following proteasome (bortezomib) therapy, and demonstrated the application of longitudinal imaging with preclinical MRI in an immunocompetent, intramedullary setting.
  1. DEVELOPMENT AND EVALUATION OF CD38 TARGETED OPTICAL AND NUCLEAR IMAGING AGENTS FOR CANCER AND AGE RELATED DISEASES.
    An exciting new direction in the Shokeen lab has been the development of CD38 targeted imaging agents that will eventually help stratify patients for targeted therapies, minimizing off-target toxicities and reduce unnecessary treatment of patients not likely to respond. These studies seek to contribute toward technological advancements in diagnostic and therapeutic monoclonal antibody and novel small molecule based radiopharmaceutical development for various applications.
Teaching and Community Outreach:

Dr. Shokeen is passionately involved in designing and teaching interdisciplinary courses focused on imaging sciences and nanomedicine. She is currently the course master for the Principles and Applications in Biological Imaging (PABI) course. She is a member of the Imaging Sciences Pathway Steering committee, faculty in the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences (DBBS) Molecular Cell Biology Program, and the Outreach Leader for the Washington University Center for Multiple Myeloma Nanotherapy (CMMN) (NCI funded CCNE).

Extracurricular Interests:

Dr. Shokeen is enthusiastic about organizing community science-outreach activities and enjoys golf, swimming, zumba and yoga.

Publications:

For an up to date list of Dr. Shokeen’s publications please see her entry on PubMed.