​Center for Ultrasound Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics

Center for Ultrasound Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics

The Center for Ultrasound Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics, a program of UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh, is a multidisciplinary translational research facility designed to develop the science and technology of ultrasound contrast agents and ultrasound imaging systems with the goal of moving basic discoveries in ultrasound-based molecular imaging and treatments into clinical practice.

Led by Flordeliza Villanueva, MD, director of Noninvasive Cardiac Imaging at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute, the Center’s research staff are primarily engaged in the development and application of microbubble technology – a promising method for imaging early disease using ultrasound molecular imaging as well as for delivering targeted drug or gene therapy.

In fact, Dr. Villanueva and her research team were the first to use ultrasound technology and targeted microbubbles to demonstrate that heart disease could be diagnosed in a living being at the cellular level, opening the door to exciting possibilities in the ultra-early detection and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Some of the applications that Center researchers are currently working on include the following noninvasive detection and treatment methods:

  • Rapid molecular diagnosis of ischemic chest pain in the ER
  • Detection of high-risk atherosclerosis plaques
  • Evaluation of stents
  • Gene therapy

To learn more, please visit the Center for Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics website.


Microbubbles are tiny inert gaseous bubbles that are injected into the blood stream. When ultrasound imaging is applied, they can be visualized. Dr. Villanueva and her colleagues worked to engineer a specific type of microbubble that clings to damaged tissue in the blood vessel walls, allowing the researchers to see clearly damaged areas on screen.

©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com