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AT-NCIGT - The National Center for Advanced Technologies for Image Guided Therapy

Moritz Kircher, MD, PhD: SERRS Nanoparticles for High Precision Cancer Imaging and Therapy

Moritz Kircher

Moritz Kircher, MD, PhD
Chairman, Department of Imaging
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute


The detection of cancer at its earliest stage and the accurate delineation of the actual extent of cancer are paramount to achieving better results in cancer treatments. We aim to achieve both of these goals via the development of a new generation of imaging technology, called “Surface-Enhanced Resonance Raman Spectroscopy” (SERRS). The main effort of our laboratory has been the design, synthesis, and in vitro and in vivo validation of new generations of such SERRS nanoparticles. After years of fundamental research, we have developed SERRS nanoparticles that can be detected in the femto- and even attomolar detection regime. Together with tumor-specific homing mechanisms of these ultra-sensitive nanobeacons we were able to image the true tumor extent, including microscopic lesions, with so far unparalleled sensitivity and specificity, in a large number of state-of-the-art murine tumor models. Building on these advancements, we also developed methods to incorporate whole body imaging modalities such as MRI and PET, and new molecular methods such as MultiSpectral Optoacoustic Tomography (MSOT), into the same nanoparticle design. Most recently, we have focused on combining SERRS imaging with therapeutic abilities, in order to develop a theranostic platform based on a single nanoparticle concept.

Short Bio

Moritz assumed the role as Chairman of the Department Imaging of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, as well as directorship of DFCI’s Lurie Family Imaging Center and Molecular Cancer Imaging Facility in 2018. He also serves as Chief of Oncoradiology at Brigham and Women’s Hopspital.

Prior to joining DFCI, Moritz was an Associate Professor and Attending in the Body Imaging Service, Associate Vice Chair for Research, and Laboratory Head at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

His research focuses on the early detection and high-precision imaging of neoplasms using next-generation multimodal nanoparticle imaging agents based on Raman, MRI, PET, and Optoacoustic imaging technologies. He is one of 6 elected Young Leaders of the “International Society for Strategic Studies in Radiology” (IS3R), served as founding Chair of the “Molecular Imaging in Nanotechnology and Theranostics (MINT)” Interest Group of the World Molecular Imaging Society, and is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Nanotheranostics.

Moritz conducted his Medical School and doctoral thesis studies at the Humboldt University (Charité) in Berlin, and his habilitation thesis in Raman imaging at the Technical University Munich. After an Internship in Surgery he completed a Radiology Residency at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, postdocs with Prof. Ralph Weissleder at MGH and Prof. Sam Gambhir at Stanford in Molecular Imaging, and a clinical Body MRI Fellowship at Stanford.

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