R. Michael van Dam*

Michael van Dam

Department Vice Chair, Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, University of California Los Angeles

Professor, Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, University of California Los Angeles


Laboratory Address:
4310 CNSI
570 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095 CNSI 2211
570 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Lab Number:

Office Address:
4323 CNSI, 570 Westwood Plaza, Building 114
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Office Phone Number:


Member, Molecular Pharmacology GPB Home Area, Physics & Biology in Medicine GPB Home Area

Research Interests

My laboratory is interested in making cutting edge molecular imaging methods (e.g. positron emission tomography, PET) more accessible. We are developing improved ways to produce diverse PET tracers at lower cost for research and clinical use. Our research involves developing new automated and miniaturized technologies to streamline all phases of the tracer production process. We also produce tracers for various research groups for imaging of various biological processes (including metabolism, gene expression, cell proliferation, etc.), and we produce labeled peptides and proteins to image receptors and structural proteins with high specificity. We collaborate with several groups on the development of novel PET tracers and on the development of new chemistry approaches for simplified tracer production.


Michael received his bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics from Queen’s University (Kingston, ON, Canada), and then received his master’s degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Toronto (Toronto, ON, Canada), where he worked under the direction of Prof. Zvonko G. Vranesic (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering) on communication networks in multiprocessor systems (NUMAchine Multiprocessor Project).  Michael obtained his doctoral degree in Applied Physics from the California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, CA, USA), where he worked under the direction of Prof. Stephen R. Quake (Department of Applied Physics; now at Department of Bioengineering, Stanford University) on developing chemically-resistant microfluidic devices for chemical synthesis applications. After graduate school, he worked under the direction of Prof. James R. Heath (Department of Chemistry, California Institute of Technology) on microfluidic devices for the synthesis of positron-emission tomography (PET) probes, and transitioned to a Senior Scientist role at Siemens Molecular Imaging Biomarker Research to commercialize this work. He joined the UCLA Department of Molecular & Medical Pharmacology in 2007.  He is currently a Professor in the Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging, Department of Molecular & Medical Pharmacology, Department of Bioengineering, and the Physics and Biology in Medicine Graduate Program, as well as Co-Associate Director of the Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging. In addition, he is Director of the Crump Cyclotron and Radiochemistry Technology Center.