Wellington Pham, Ph.D.

Radiology & Radiological Sciences
Biomedical Engineering
Delivery Address
Medical Center North
1161 21st Avenue South, CCC-1118

Wellington Pham, Ph.D. is a medicinal chemist with over 20 years of experience developing molecular probes for biomarker imaging. His laboratory is well recognized for synthesizing multimodal probes, including optical, MRI, and PET agents. He served on several steering committees and conference organizers on molecular imaging and molecular probes, a recipient of the Japanese Academy of Pharmaceutical Science and Technology Award (2010), and a distinguished investigator of the Academy for Radiology & Biomedical Imaging Research (2019). His current research interests include the discovery of biomarkers and imaging probes, combined with delivery technologies dedicated to cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, and he has published several publications, including peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, conference abstracts/proceedings, editorials, and patents on these subjects. His research is supported by NIH, DOD, the Veterans Affairs and industry.

Section: Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science


Whitmore CA, Haynes JR, Behof WJ, Rosenberg AJ, Tantawy MN, Hachey BC, Wadzinski BE, Spiller BW, Peterson TE, Paffenroth KC, Harrison FE, Beelman RB, Wijesinghe P, Matsubara JA, Pham W. Longitudinal consumption of ergothioneine reduces oxidative stress, amyloid plaques and restores glucose metabolism in the 5XFAD mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Pharmaceuticals 2022 (in press).

Behof WJ, Whitmore CA, Behof WJ, Haynes JR, Rosenberg AJ, Tantawy MN, Peterson TE, Harrison FE, Beelman RB, Wijeshinge P, Matsubara JA, Pham W. Improved synthesis of an ergothioneine PET radioligand for imaging oxidative stress in Alzheimer’s disease, 2022 FEBS Letters. 2022, 596, 1279-1289.

Whitmore CA, Boules MI, Behof WJ, Haynes JR, Koktysh D, Rosenberg AJ, Tantawy MN, Pham W*. Design, synthesis and validation of a novel [11C]promethazine PET probe for imaging Abeta using autoradiography, Molecules, 2021, 26, 2182.

Behof W, Whitmore C, Haynes J, Rosenberg A, Tantawy M, Harrison F, Beelman R, Pham W. A novel antioxidant Ergothioneine PET radioligand for in vivo imaging, Scientific Reports 2021, 11 (1), 18450.

Barton SM, To E, Rogers B, Whitemore C, Matsubara JA, Pham W. Inhalable thioflavin S for the detection of Abeta deposits in the retina. Molecules 2021, 26, 835.

Birchall JR, Kabir MSH, Salnikov OG, Chukanov NV, Kovtunov KV, Koptyug IV, Gelovani JG, Goodson BM, Pham W,and Chekmenev EY. Quantifying the effects of quadrupolar sinks via 15N relaxation dynamics in metronidazoles hyperpolarized via SABRE-SHEATH. Chem Communication, 2020, 56, 9098-9101.

Koktysh D, Pham, W. A combinatorial approach for the fabrication of magneto-optical hybrid nanoparticles. Int J Nanomedicine 2019, 14, 9855-9863.

Mcclure R, Rey Redha, Vinson P and Pham W., A robust and scalable high-throughput compatible assay for screening Abeta-binding compounds. J Alzheimer’s Disease 2019, 70, 187-197.

Shchepin R, Birchall JR, Chukanov NV, Kovtunov KV, Koptyug IV, Theis T, Warren WS, Gelovani JG, Goodson BM, Shokouhi S, Rosen MS, Yen YF, Pham W, Chekmenev EY. Hyperpolarizing concentrated metronidazole 15NO2 group over six chemical bonds with more than 15% polarization and 20 minute lifetime. Chemistry 2019, 25, 8829-8836.

Salnikov OG, Shchepin RV, Chukanov NV, Jaigirdar L, Pham W, Kovtunov KV, Koptyug IV, Chekmenev EY. Effects of deuteration of 13C-enriched phospholactate on efficiency of parahydrogen-induced polarization by magnetic field cycling. J Phys Chem C Nanomater Interfaces 2018, 122, 24740-24749.

Kolanjiyil AV, Kleinstrauer C, Kleinstreuer NC, Pham W, Sadikot RT. Mice-to-men comparison of inhaled drug-aerosol deposition and Clearance. Respir Physiol Neurobiol 2019, 260, 82-94.

Barton S, Janve VA, McClure R, Anderson A, Matsubara JA, Gore JC and Pham W*., Lipopolysaccharide induced opening of the Blood Brain Barrier on Aging 5XFAD Mouse Model J Alzheimers Dis 2019, 67, 503-513.

Barton S, Li B, Siuta M, Janve VA, Song J, Holt CM, Tomono T, Ukawa M, Kumagai H, Tobita E, Wilson K, Sakuma S, and Pham W., Specific molecular recognition as a strategy to delineate tumor margin using topically applied fluorescence embedded nanoparticles, Precision Nanomedicine 2018, 1, 194-207.

Kumagai H, Yamada K, Nakai K, Kitamura T, Mohri K, Ukawa M, Tomono T, Eguchi T, Yoshizaki T, Fukuchi T, Yoshino T, Matsuura M, Tobita E, Pham W, Nakase H and Sakuma S. Tumor recognition of peanut agglutinin-immobilized fluorescent nanospheres in biopsied human tissues. Eur J Pharm Biopharm, 2019, 136, 29-37.

Coffey A, Feldman MA, Shchepin RV, Barskiy D, Truong ML, Pham W, Chekmenev EY. High-resolution hyperpolarized in vivo metabolic 13C spectroscopy at low magnetic field (48.7 mT) following murine tail-vein injection. J Magn Reson 2017, 281, 246-252.

Prabhakaran J, Dewey SL, McClure R, Simoson NR, Tantawy MN, Mann JJ, Pham W, Kumar JS. In vivo Evaluation of IGF1R/IR PET ligand [18F]BMS-754807 in Rodents. Bioorg Med Chem Lett 2017, 27, 941-943.

McClure R, Ong H, Zhu M, Li B, Dawes M, Jerome WG, Gore JC, Pham W. Aerosol delivery of curcumin reduced Abeta deposition and improved cognitive performance in a transgenic model of Alzheimer’s disease. J Alzheimers Dis 2017, 55, 797-811.

Nakase H, Sakuma S, Fukuchi T, Yoshino T, Mohri K, Miyata K, Kumagai H, Hiwatari KI, Tsubaki K, Ikejima T, Tobita E, Zhu M, Wilson K, Washington K, Gore JC, Pham W, Evaluation    of a novel fluorescent nanobeacon for targeted imaging of Thomsen-Friedenreich associated colorectal cancer. Int J Nanomedicine 2017, 12, 1747-1755.

Li B, Siuta M, Bright V, Gilchuk P, Koktysh D, Matlock B, Dumas M, Zhu M, Holt A, Stec D, Deng S, Savage P, Joyce S, Pham W. Improved Proliferation of Antigen-Specific Cytolytic T Lymphocytes Using a Multimodal Nanovaccine. Nanomedicine 2016, 11, 6103-21.

Coffey AM, Shchepin RV, Truong ML, Wilkens K, Pham W, Chekmenev EY. Open-Source Automated Parahydrogen Hyperpolarizer for Molecular Imaging Using (13)C Metabolic Contrast Agents. Anal Chem. 2016, 88, 8279-88.

Sakuma S, Kumagai H, Shimosato M, Kitamura T, Mohri K, Ikejima T, Hiwatari KI, Koike S, Tobita E, McClure R, Gore JC and Pham W. Toxicity studies of coumarin 6-encapsulated polystyrene nanospheres conjugated with peanut agglutinin and poly(N-vinylacetamide) as a colonoscopic imaging agent in rats. Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine, 2015, 11, 1227-36.

Shchepin R, Pham W, Chekmenev EY. Feasibility Study of Dephosphorylation and Biodistribution of 1-13C-phspholactate in Vivo. J. Labeled Compounds and Radiopharmaceuticals, 2014, 57, 517-24.

Kitamura T, Sakuma S, Higashino H, Masaoka Y, Kataoka M, Yamashita S, Hiwatari KI, Kumagai H, Morimoto N, Koike S, Tobita E, Hoffman RM, Gore JC, Pham W. Specificity of lectin-immobilized fluorescent nanospheres for colorectal tumors in a mouse model which better resembles the clinical disease. Contrast Media and Molecular Imaging, 2015, 10, 135-43.

McClure R, Yanagisawa D, Stec D, Koktysh D, Xhillari D, Jaeger R, Chekmenev E, Tooyama I, Gore JC, Pham W. Inhalable curcumin: offering the potential for translation to imaging and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. J Alzheimers Dis, 2015, 44, 283-295.   

Sakuma S, Yu J, Quang T, Hiwatari KI, Kumagai H, Kao S, Holt A, Erskine J, McClure R, Siuta M, Zhu M, Kitamura T, Tobita E, Koike S, Wilson K, Richards-Kortum R, Liu E, Washington K, Omary R, Gore JC, Pham W. Fluorescence-based endoscopic imaging of Thomsen-Friedenreich antigen to improve early detection of colorectal cancer, Int J             Cancer 2015, 136, 1095-103.

Xie J, Wang C, Virostko J, Manning HC, Pham W, Bauer J, Gore JC. A novel reporter system for molecular imaging and high-throughput screening of anticancer drugs. ChemBioChem 2013, 14, 1494-503.

McClure RA, Chumbley CW, Reyzer ML, Wilson K, Caprioli RM, Gore JC, Pham W, Identification of promethazine as an amyloid-binding molecule using a fluorescence high-throughput assay and MALDI imaging mass spectrometry. NeuroImage Clinical. 2013, 2, 620-629.

Nolting D, Nickels M, Tantawy MN, Yu JYH, Xie JP, Peterson TE, Crews BC, Marnett L, Gore JC and Pham W, Convergent Synthesis and Evaluation of 18F-Labeled Azulenic COX2 Probes for Cancer Imaging. Front Cancer Imag Diagn. 2012, 2, 207.

Kumagai H, Pham W, Kataoka M, Hiwatari KI, McBride J, Wilson K, Tachikawa H, Ryoji K, Nakamura K, Liu E, Gore J, Sakuma S, Multifunctional Nanobeacon for Imaging Thomsen-Friedenreich-Associated Colorectal Cancer, Int J Cancer. 2013, 132, 2107-17.

Toki S, Omary RA, Wilson K, Gore JC, Peebles S, Pham W, A Comprehensive Analysis of Transfection-Assisted Delivery of Iron Oxide Nanoparticles to Dendritic Cells. Nanomedicine. 2013, 9, 1235-44.

Nolting DD, Nickels M, Guo N, Pham W, Molecular Imaging Probe Development: A Chemistry Perspective, Am J Nucl Med Mol Imag. 2012, 2, 273-311.

Sakuma S, Yamashita S, Hiwatari KI, Hoffman RM, Pham W, Lectin-immobilized fluorescent nanospheres for targeting to colorectal cancer from a physicochemical perspective, Curr Drug Discov Technol. 2011, 8, 367-78.    

Koktysh D, Bright V, Pham W, Fluorescent Magnetic Hybrid Nanoprobe for Multimodal Bioimaging, Nanotechnology. 2011, 22, 275606.

Sakuma S, Higashino H, Oshitani H, Masaoka Y, Kataoka M, Yamashita S, Hiwatari KI, Tachikawa H, Kimura R, Nakamura K, Kumagai H, Gore JC, Pham W. Essence of affinity and specificity of peanut agglutinin-immobilized fluorescent nanospheres with surface poly (N-vinylacetamide) chains for colorectal cancer, Eur J Pharm Biopharm. 2011, 79, 537-43.

Sakuma S, Kataoka M, Higashino H, Yano T, Masaoka Y, Yamashita S, Hiwatari KI, Tachikawa H, Kimura R, Nakamura K, Kumagai H, Gore JC, Pham W. The Potential of a Peanut Agglutinin-Immobilized Fluorescent Nanospheres as a Safe Candidate for the Administration of Diagnotic Drugs for Colonoscopy, Eur J Pharm Sci. 2011. 42, 340-347.

Sampson UK, Perati PR, Prins PA, Pham W, Liu Z, Harell F, Linton MF, Gore JC, Kon V, Fazio S, Quantitative estimates of variability of in vivo ultrasound imaging measurements of mouse aorta important for studies of abdominal aortic aneurysms and related arterial diseases, J Ultras Med. 2011; 30, 773-784.

Mackay PS, Kremers G, Cobb JG, Kuley A, Rosenthal S, Koktysh DS, Gore JC, Pham W,  Multimodal Imaging Dendritic Cells Using a Novel Hybrid Optical-Magneto Nanoprobe, Nanomedicine. 2011, 7, 489-496.

Nickels M, Xie JP, Cobb J, Gore JC, Pham W, Functionalization of Iron Oxide Nanoparticles with a Versatile Epoxy Amine Linker, J Mater Chem. 2010, 20, 4776-4780.

Kobukai S, Xie JP, Kremers G, Cobb JG, Kuley A, Pham W, Induction of    Antitumor Immunity by Dendritic Cells Loaded with Membrane Translocating MUC1 Peptide antigen,         Transl             Oncology. 2011, 4, 1-8.

Nolting D, Gore, JC, Pham W, Near-Infrared Dyes: Probe Development and Application in Optical Molecular Imaging, Curr Org Synth. 2011, 8, 521-534.

Pham W, Detection and Treatment of Diseases Using Light, World Congress on Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering (IFMBE) 2010, 27: 19-22. Saigon, Vietnam.

Kobukai S, Baheza R, Xie J, Virostko J, Gillman A, Koktysh D, Kernes D, Jerome J, Koes M,    Gore J, Pham W. Development of Magnetic Nanoparticles for in vivo Imaging the Migration of Dendritic Cells. Magn Reson Med. 2010, 63, 1383-1390.

Nolting D, Nickels M, Price R, Gore JC, and Pham W, Synthesis of Bicyclo[5.3.0]Azulene  Derivatives. Nat Protoc. 2009, 4: 1113-1117.

Pham W, Kobukai S, Hotta C, Dendritic Cells: Therapy and Imaging, Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2009, 9: 539-564.

Pham W, Cassell L, Gillman A, Koktysh D,  Gore JC. A Near-Infrared Dye for Multichannel Imaging. ChemCommun. 2008; 16: 1895-1897.

Pham W, Xie JP, Gore JC. Tracking the Migration of Dendritic Cells by In vivo Optical Imaging. Neoplasia. 2007; 9 (12), 1130-1137.

Medarova Z, Pham W, Farrar C, Petkova V, Moore A. In Vivo Imaging of siRNA Delivery and Silencing in Tumors. Nature Med. 2007 (co-first author); 13(3): 372-377.

Pham W, Pantazopoulos P, Moore A. Imaging Farnesyl Protein Transferase Using a Topologically Activated Probe. J Am Chem Soc. 2006; 128 (36), 11736-11737.

Medarova Z, Pham W, Kim Y, Dai G, Moore A. In vivo imaging of tumor response to therapy using a dual-modality imaging strategy. Int J Cancer. 2006; 118:2796-2802.

Pham W and Moore A. Peptide-Based Molecular Beacons for Cancer Detection. Optical Methods in Drug Discovery and Development (The International Society for Optical Engineering). 2005: 60090L1-60090L5. Boston, MA.

Pham W, Zhao BQ, Lo EH, Medarova Z, Rosen B, Moore A. Crossing the blood-brain barrier: a potential application of myristoylated polyarginine for in vivo neuroimaging. Neuroimage. 2005; 28:287-292.

Pham W, Medarova Z, Moore A. Synthesis and application of a water-soluble near-infrared dye for cancer detection using optical imaging. Bioconjugate Chem. 2005; 16:735-740.

Chen JW, Pham W, Weissleder R, Bogdanov A, Jr. Human myeloperoxidase: a potential target for molecular MR imaging in atherosclerosis. Magn Reson Med. 2004; 52:1021-1028.

Pham W, Choi Y, Weissleder R, Tung CH. Developing a peptide-based near-infrared molecular probe for protease sensing. Bioconjugate Chem. 2004; 15:1403-1407 (Special feature on imaging chemistry).

Pham W, Kircher MF, Weissleder R, Tung CH. Enhancing membrane permeability by fatty acylation of oligoarginine peptides. Chembiochem. 2004; 5:1148-1151.

Pham W, Lai WF, Weissleder R, Tung CH. High efficiency synthesis of a bioconjugatable near-infrared fluorochrome. Bioconjugate Chem. 2003; 14:1048-1051.

Pham W, Weissleder R and Tung CH. Peptide-Based Near Infrared Optical Probes Specific for Matrix Metalloproteinases Activity Detection. American Peptide Society. 2003: 367-368. Boston, MA.

Pham W, Weissleder R, Tung C-H. A practical approach for the preparation of monofunctional azulenyl squaraine dye. Tetrahedron Lett. 2003; 44:3975-3978.

Pham W, Weissleder R, Tung C-H. An azulene dimer as a near-infrared quencher. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2002; 41:3659-3662.

Pham W, Weissleder R, Tung C-H. Intermolecular [8+2] cycloaddition reactions of 2H-3-methoxycarbonylcyclohepta[b]furan-2-one with vinyl ethers: an approach to bicyclo[5.3.0]azulene derivatives. Tetrahedron Lett. 2001; 43:19-20.

Krishnan V, Pham W, Messer WS, Jr., Peseckis SM. First fatty acylated dipeptides to affect muscarinic receptor ligand binding. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 1999; 9:3363-3368.


Clinical Interests