PIRL Faculty and Staff

Christopher Albanese, PhD
Telephone: (202) 687-3305
Research Building WB-01

Dr. Albanese is the founder and Director of the PIRL. He is a tenured Professor in the Departments of Oncology and Pathology and is a full member of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Albanese has over 25 years experience in animal modeling and imaging and has over 170 peer-reviewed publications and has been the principal investigator on many government and foundation grants. Dr. Albanese is responsible for defining the scientific and financial goals of the PIRL and worked directly with the Cancer Center and Medical Center administrations to ensure their implementation. Dr. Albanese is responsible for establishing scientific collaborations, for writing of both grants and manuscripts and has given numerous invited lectures on animal modeling and imaging of human diseases. Dr. Albanese acts as an advisor on the experimental design and novel applications for PIRL users and trainees.

Olga Rodriguez, MD, PhD
Telephone: (202) 687-4628

Dr. Rodriguez, founder and Co-Director of the PIRL, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Oncology at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Rodriguez advises researchers on the efficient use and potential new applications of imaging technologies, on their experimental approach and design involving small animal imaging and provides the research and development necessary to generate preliminary and pilot data.

Dr. Rodriguez’s contribution in the advancement of the preclinical imaging field include: a) identification of imaging biological markers of disease. Specifically, MR spectroscopy for detection, diagnosis and staging of medulloblastoma and prostate cancer and quantification of their response to experimental therapeutics in animal models; use of manganese-enhanced MRI to diagnose presence and severity of traumatic brain and spinal cord injury; in vivo quantification of whole body, visceral and ratio of white/brown fat to study the effects of genetic modifications and of diet, b) development of novel and improved MR protocols for the in vivo characterization of animal models of cancer (pancreatic, gastric, lung and prostate cancer, among others), of neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases), and bacterial infections (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus). Her current research interests are: a) studying the effects of chemotherapy on brain metabolism, behavior and cognition, b) in vivo behavior of conditionally reprogrammed prostate and pancreatic cancer cells in mouse models in order to study mechanisms of tumorigenesis, for the development of novel and repurposed drugs and to understand drug resistance, c) application of advanced MRI techniques such as voxel-based morphometry and diffusion tensor imaging to assess the role of genetics and aging on neurodegenerative diseases and to establish the effect of chronic use of anti-epileptic drugs, d) development of novel MRI contrast agents with simultaneous T1/T2 effects for  use in in vivo imaging in conjunction with the GU departments of Chemistry and Physics.

Yichien Lee, PhD
(202) 687-4802

Dr. Lee, who has many years of experience in NMR and MR imaging, performs much of the day-to-day operation of the facility. He operates and maintains the Bruker Biospec 7/20 magnet and also provides direct support to the users.  Dr. Lee develops data and image analysis tools typically written in Matlab, and uses existing tools, both commercial and open source.

Patricia Salinas
Animal Technician
(202) 687-7262