Steven Liang

Steven H. Liang began his professional career as a NSERC fellow under the mentorship of Professor EJ Corey at Harvard University. In 2012, Dr. Liang started his junior faculty position (Instructor 2012; Assistant Professor 2013) at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, then promoted to the Director of Radiochemistry (2017) and Associate Professor of Radiology (2019). In early 2022, Dr. Liang assumed the role of the inaugural head at the newly established Translational PET Center at Emory University. As PI on numerous foundation- and federal-funded research, Dr. Liang has created an efficient research team to lead the projects and collaborated with stellar scientists in the world. This effort has resulted in >160 publications and several national and international awards and recognitions. Dr. Liang’s research interests encompass “radioactive drug discovery“, including the development of novel radiochemistry, PET imaging diagnostics and companion radiotherapy, as well as the translation of these technologies into clinical settings (Phase I first-in-human studies; Phase II efficacy/target engagement validation, and PET imaging based observational human trials).

Academic Appointment (Current) – Emory University

  • Head, Emory Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Imaging Center
  • SOM Endowed Director of Radiochemistry, Cyclotron Facility and Radiopharmacy
  • Associate Professor (tenured) of Radiology and Imaging Sciences
  • Director, Translational Radiochemistry and Radiotheranostics Program

Previous Appointment – Harvard Medical School / Massachusetts General Hospital

  • 2019- 2022 Associate Professor of Radiology, Harvard Medical School
  • 2017- 2022 Director of Radiochemistry and Radiopharmaceutical Development, NMMI, MGH
  • 2013- 2019 Assistant Professor of Radiology, Division of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging,  Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School
  • 2012- 2013 Instructor of Radiology, Division of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging,  Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School


  • Tianjin University (1999-2003, B.Sc.)
  • University of British Columbia (2004-2010, Ph.D., Advisor: Prof. Marco Ciufolini)
  • Harvard University (2010-2012, NSERC Fellow, Advisor: Prof. E.J. Corey)

Professional Society, Committee Service and Editorial Activity

American Chemical Society (2007-); Canadian Society of Chemistry (2013 – ); Society of Radiopharmaceutical Sciences (2013-); Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (2014-); Sino-American Society of Nuclear Medicine (2014-).

President (2021-2020), President-Elect (2019-2020), Vice President-Elect (2018-2019), Secretary and Board of Director (2016-2018), Radiopharmaceutical Sciences Council, Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI).

Editor-in-Chief, American Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (2023-).

Editorial Board, American Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (2015-); Editorial Board, Molecular Imaging (2016-); Editorial Board, Theranostics (2017-).

Selected Awards

K. C. Wong Memorial Scholarship (2001); Takeda Scholarship (2001-2002); Chinese Government Excellent Overseas Student Award (2008); University of  British Columbia Graduate Fellowship (2008); Gladys Estella Laird Research Fellowship (2008); UBC Graduate Study Travel Award (2009); ACS Division of Organic Chemistry Travel Award (2009); NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship (2010-2012); ACS Leadership Development Scholarship (2012); Drew University Medicinal Chemistry Scholarship (2013); ADDF Young Investigator Award, First Place (2013); The Dr. Michael J. Welch Foundation Travel Grant (2014); Young Investigator Award (1st Place), Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (2014); NIH Career Development Award (2014); YCC/CIBA Travel Grant (2015); NIH Early Career Award in Chemistry of Drug Abuse and Addiction (ECHEM) (2017); Best Poster Award, Molecular Targeting Probes – Radioactive & Nonradioactive Track, SNMMI (2017); Thieme Chemistry Journal Award (2018); ACS Academic Young Investigator Award Symposium (2018); SNMMI Future Leaders Academy (2019); Hal O’Brien Rising Star Award (2019); O’Keanos-CAPA Young Investigator Award at the Chemical and Biology interface (2019); Service Recognition as the President of Radiopharmaceutical Sciences Council (RPSC), SNMMI (2021); Distinguished Investigator Award, Academy for Radiology & Biomedical Imaging Research, US (2021); Endowed Directorship of Radiochemistry, Emory University School of Medicine (2022); Emory 1% Award (2022); SNMMI Berson-Yalow Award (2023); Emory Dragon Award: Research Excellence and Collaboration (2023); Emory SOM (I3) Nexus Research Award (2023); Emory MilliPub Award (2023); Emory Faculty of Eminence (2023)

Journal Cover (Link)

Selected Publications  (ORCID: 0000-0003-1413-6315)

  • “Spirocyclic hypervalent iodine(III)-mediated radiofluorination of non-activated and hindered aromatics” Nat. Commun. 2014, 5, 4365. 
  • “Iodonium Ylide–Mediated Radiofluorination of 18F-FPEB and Validation for Human Use” J. Nucl. Med. 2015, 56, 489-492.
  • “Ortho-stabilized 18F-azido click agents and application in PET imaging of single-stranded DNA aptamers” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015, 54, 12777-81.
  • 18F-labeled Single-Stranded DNA Aptamer for PET Imaging of Protein Tyrosine Kinase-7 Expression” J. Nucl. Med. 2015, 56, 1780-5.
  • “Difluorocarbene-derived Trifluoromethylthiolation and [18F]Trifluoromethylthiolation of Aliphatic Electrophiles” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015, 54, 13236-40.
  • “Enzyme-Mediated Modification of Single Domain Antibodies for Imaging Modalities with different Characteristics” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2016, 55, 528-33.
  • “Synthesis and Preclinical Evaluation of Sulfonamido-based [11C-Carbonyl]-Carbamates and Ureas for Imaging Monoacylglycerol Lipase” Theranostics 2016, 6, 1145-59.
  • “Mechanistic Studies and Radiofluorination of Structurally Diverse Pharmaceuticals with Spirocyclic Iodonium(III) Ylides” Chem. Sci. 2016, 7, 4407-17.
  • “Discovery of a Highly Selective Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3 Inhibitor (PF-04802367) that Modulates Tau Phosphorylation in Brain: Translation for PET Neuroimaging” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2016, 55, 9601-5.
  • “Practical Synthesis of 18F-Difluoromethylarenes from Aryl (Pseudo) Halides” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2016, 55, 10786-90.
  • “Efficient Pathway for the Preparation of Aryl(isoquinoline)iodonium(III) Salts and Synthesis of Radiofluorinated Isoquinolines” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2016, 55, 11882-6.
  • “An unconventional mechanistic insight on SCF3 formation from difluorocarbene: Preparation of 18F-labeled α-SCF3 carbonyl compounds”  Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2017, 56, 3196-3200.
  • “A Facile Radiolabeling of [18F]FDPA via Spirocyclic Iodonium Ylides: Preliminary PET Imaging Studies in Preclinical Models of Neuroinflammation” J. Med. Chem. 201760, 5222-5227.
  • “In vitro and in vivo evaluation of 11C-labeled azetidine-carboxylates for imaging monoacylglycerol lipase by PET imaging studies” J. Med. Chem., 2018, 61, 2278-2291. 
  • “Chemistry for Positron Emission Tomography: Recent Advances in 11C-, 18F-, 13N- and 15O-labeling Reactions”  Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2018, 58, 2580-2605.
  • “Design, Synthesis and Evaluation of Reversible and Irreversible Monoacylglycerol Lipase Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Tracers Using a ‘Tail Switching’ Strategy on a Piperazinyl Azetidine Skeleton”  J. Med. Chem., 2019, 62, 3336-3353.
  • “Design, Synthesis and Evaluation of 18F-labeled Monoacylglycerol lipase Inhibitors as Novel Positron Emission Tomography Probes” J. Med. Chem., 2019, 62, 8866-8872.
  • “Facile 18F Labeling of Non-activated Arenes via a Spirocyclic Iodonium(III) Ylide Method and its Application in the Synthesis of the mGluR5 PET Radiopharmaceutical [18F]FPEB” Nature Protocol, 2019, 14, 1530-1545. 
  • “[18F]Alfatide PET imaging of integrin αvβ3 for the non-invasive quantification of liver fibrosis” Journal of Hepatology, 2020, 73, 161-169.
  • “Identification and Development of A New Positron Emission Tomography Ligand 4-(2-Fluoro-4-[11C]methoxyphenyl)-5-((1-methyl-1H-pyrazol-3-yl)methoxy)picolinamide for Imaging of Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor Subtype 2 (mGlu2)”   J. Med. Chem., 2020, 63, 11469-11483. 
  • “Synthesis and preliminary studies of 11C-labeled tetrahydro-1,7-naphthyridine-2-carboxamides for PET imaging of metabotropic glutamate receptor 2″  Theranostics, 2020, 10, 11178-11196.
  • “Imaging autotaxin in vivo with 18F-labeled positron emission tomography ligands”  J. Med. Chem., 2021, 64, 15053-15068.
  • “Novel reversible-binding PET ligands for imaging monoacylglycerol lipase based on piperazinyl azetidine scaffold” J. Med. Chem., 2021, 64, 14283-14298. 
  • “Imaging of Transmembrane AMPA Receptor Regulatory Proteins by Positron Emission Tomography” J. Med. Chem., 2022, 65, 9144-9158.
  • “Imaging Leucine-Rich Repeat Kinase 2 In Vivo with 18F-Labeled Positron Emission Tomography Ligand” J. Med. Chem., 2022, 66, 1712-1724.
  • “Assessment of cholesterol homeostasis in the living human brain” Sci Transl Med., 2022, 14(665), eadc9967.
  • “Radiochemistry for Positron Emission Tomography” Nat. Commun., 2023, Accepted.