A computer and scanning facility

Using imaging technologies for research and diagnostics to enhance child health


The range of different imaging techniques being used in both basic research and clinical medicine has expanded rapidly. The availability of sophisticated imaging technologies alongside a range of new model systems allows us to study different organs and systems from conception to old age in both health and disease. Imaging methods are likely to continue providing significant insight into both medical research and clinical diagnosis of disease. This theme cuts across all the core research themes within the Centre for Paediatrics and Child Health.

The mission of this cross-cutting theme is to educate and inform basic researchers and clinicians about current and new imaging modalities and how these platforms can be harnessed for research and diagnostic purposes. In addition, we hope that this theme will provide a conduit through which we can bring basic scientists and clinicians who use imaging together.

Theme leads

Dr Franz Puttur (ECR-Academic lead)

Franz is a Research Fellow working at the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London. Franz trained as an immunologist at the University of Sydney, Australia where his project investigated immune mechanisms in the context of host-microbial interactions focussing on dendritic cell derived immune responses in mouse models of epitheliotropic viral infections. He next undertook a postdoctoral position at the Sparwasser laboratory in the Hannover Medical School in Germany where he developed sophisticated genetically modified transgenic mouse lines to investigate the cell-specific function of toll like receptors and adaptor proteins in dendritic cell derived immunity. During these investigations, he gained tremendous experience of working with animal model systems and identifying experimental endpoints to increase our understanding of immunological disease and underlying mechanisms involved.

In 2016, he made the move to the National Heart & Lung Institute at Imperial College London to train in neonatal mouse models of lung inflammation under Prof. Clare Lloyd. During this period, Franz has developed and published a number of technically demanding and novel imaging modalities to interrogate static and dynamic spatial communication between airway structural cells, immune cells and matrix components during chronic lung inflammation. Some of these include precision cut lung slices, intravital imaging, imaging of the lung. He has translated his findings from neonatal mouse models of lung inflammation to paediatric airway samples obtained from children with chronic airway inflammation. Franz has also developed important high-level multiparameter imaging technology using Imaging Mass cytometry on archived paediatric endobronchial biopsies from patients with early life chronic lung conditions. He has also generated several in-house analysis algorithms and detailed pipelines to streamline and untangle these complex cell-environmental relationships, defining specific biological and mechanistic pathways involved in diverse paediatric and adult chronic lung diseases.

Learn more about Dr Puttur's research

Dr Charlotte Dean (Academic lead)

Charlotte runs a research group in the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College. She trained as a developmental biologist at UCL and then at NYU and the Sloan Kettering Institute, USA. The Dean lab is focused on identifying regenerative medicine treatments to repair/regenerate the lungs. Many of the signals and mechanisms required to generate the lungs also play an important role in lung repair/regeneration the lab is investigating how lung development signals contribute to lung repair and their potential to be harnessed to treat tissue damage.

In parallel, the Dean lab has developed a number of unique 3D live imaging methods to visualise lung cell biology and repair/regeneration of alveolar tissue following injury using precision-cut lung slices (PCLS). The group recently developed a method to image alveoli forming in real time and using this tool, discovered novel cellular mechanisms involved in alveolar formation. In addition, the Dean lab has established an ex-vivo model of lung injury and repair (AIR model) that can be applied to both mouse and human lung tissue slices.

Learn more about Dr Dean's research

Dr Thomas Semple (Clinical lead)

Dr Thomas Semple is a cardiothoracic imaging specialist with expertise in the imaging of heart and lung conditions in neonates, infants, children and adults

He graduated from Kings College, London, in 2009 and completed his postgraduate radiology training at the University College London Hospitals' (UCLH) training scheme in 2016. After completing his cardiac CT and paediatric radiology fellowships at Royal Brompton, Great Ormond Hospital and University College Hospital, Dr Semple undertook a two-year structural and functional lung magnetic resonance imaging (MR) fellowship at Royal Brompton, where he currently works. 

Learn more about Dr Semple's research