Samuel Achilefu, PhD

Director, Optical Radiology Laboratory

Additional titles:

  • Professor of Radiology, Biomedical Engineering, and Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics
  • Primary Investigator of the Achilefu Laboratory
  • Michel M. Ter-Pogossian Endowed Chair in Radiology
  • Vice Chair, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology
  • Director, Washington University Molecular Imaging Center (P50 grant)
  • Director, Center for Multiple Myeloma Nanotherapy (U54 grant)
  • Co-Leader, Oncologic Imaging Program, Siteman Cancer Center (P30 grant)
  • 2019 Recipient of SPIE Britton Chance Award in Biomedical Optics
  • Lifetime Fellow of American Association for Advancement of Science
  • University of Nancy, France 1991 PhD, Molecular Physical & Materials Chemistry
  • Oxford University, Oxford, UK 1991-1993 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Oxygen Transport Systems and Hematology
Research Interests:

    Collaboration with other labs and institutions is highly encouraged. Contact Lou Burkette ( for inquiries.

    We use a multidisciplinary approach to address important biomedical problems and provide interdisciplinary training to students and postdoctoral fellows. We are particularly interested in developing molecular systems and methods to detect diseases at early stages, prevent disease complications, and implement tailored therapeutic regimen. Areas of interest include molecular optical imaging of tumors and angiogenesis as well as the design and development of new molecular probes and nanomaterials for imaging the expression of aberrant genes, proteins, and other pathophysiologic processes. Specific delivery of imaging agents and drugs to target cell organelles or tissue is another area of interest. In addition, our research program involves the biological evaluation of the new materials to assess ligand trafficking in cells, cytotoxicity, cell proliferation, subcellular distribution, enzyme kinetics, and activation of specific molecular pathways in cells. Small animal molecular imaging of pathologic tissues with state-of-the-art optical imaging systems provides preclinical data before human studies. We are also interested in developing tissue-specific multi-modal imaging molecules that harness the strengths of optical with other imaging methods such as magnetic resonance and radionuclear (positron and single photon emission) imaging systems.

    Finally, we are also developing tumor-specific Type I and II photodynamic therapy drugs that have both diagnostic and therapeutic potential. The lab has a multidisciplinary team of investigators with expertise in a wide range of fields, including chemistry, molecular and cell biology, biochemistry, physics, engineering, veterinary medicine, pathology, and immunology.