The Small Animal Imaging Facility (SAIF) at Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) provides multiple imaging and image analysis tools for use with biologic specimens and rodents. The core’s imaging capabilities include digital X-ray, high-resolution micro computed tomography (CT), micro single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), micro positron emission tomography (PET), micro-ultrasound, and an optical imager for in vivo bioluminescence and fluorescence imaging. SAIF is committed to developing advanced capabilities with state-of-the-art imaging modalities to fulfill the needs of VARI’s biomedical research community. SAIF’s research interests include the development of next-generation imaging probes for tumor detection and of imaging technologies that can offer anatomic and functional information to biomedical investigators.
Imaging is used in modern medicine to diagnose and monitor disease progression. In recent years, small-animal imaging has been increasingly recognized as an important facet of preclinical and translational research. This emerging field focuses on using non-invasive means to visualize the anatomic structures and physiologic activity in small research animals, primarily in rats and mice. Observing disease physiology and novel phenotypes in an intact, living system is one of the most significant advantages of imaging.
In vivo imaging helps reduce the number of animals needed to acquire data and achieve results, thus reducing animal use and its associated costs, especially those linked to genetically engineered mice. Innumerable data points can be collected from the same animal, therefore more accurately mimicking a clinical study.