Stony Brook University hospital ARACELY JIMENEZ/STATESMAN FILE

Stony Brook University Hospital, above, opened a molecular imaging laboratory geared toward the study of cancer growth and earlier diagnoses. ARACELY JIMENEZ/STATESMAN FILE

The 40,000 square foot Kavita and Lalit Bahl Molecular Imaging Laboratory opened at its temporary location on Dec 1., as the latest addition to Stony Brook University Hospital.

Named after the donors who made it possible, the permanent laboratory is scheduled to finish construction in early 2018 as a part of the 465,000 square foot Medical and Research Translation (MART) building, according to Yusuf Hannun, Ph.D., a head researcher at the lab.

“The Bahl gift will support the development of a unique program in cancer research that bridges metabolism and imaging, with important implications for the development of novel diagnostics, as well as cancer prevention and therapeutics,” he said.

Lalit and Kavita Bahl’s initial donation of $3.5 million in 2014 was intended for the purchase of a cyclotron, which would allow for the creation of novel tracers for PET scanning, but it was followed by a pledge of over $10 million, which will fund research.

Lalit Bahl’s family history was the motivation behind the hefty donation for the laboratory. Twenty family members of Bahl’s were diagnosed with cancer over three generations.

Headed by Hannun and Dr. Lina Obeid, the lab will focus on molecular imaging, which enables researchers to study cancer growth and earlier diagnoses.

The one thing we are interested in and will be investigating through some of the research in the center is the role of dietary intake on metabolic pathways in inflammation and cancer,” Obeid, vice dean for research at the Stony Brook School of Medicine and researcher in cancer biology, said.

In addition to Hannun and Obeid, four other researchers will be recruited: an oncologic imaging researcher, a matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI) researcher, a magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy researcher and an expert in experimental therapeutics, according to the Stony Brook Cancer Center.

With the involvement of these researchers over the course of two phases, the Cancer Center, in tandem with Stony Brook University, plans to utilize computational sciences and biomedical informatics to further research in metabolomics and imaging.

“Stony Brook already has substantial expertise in this area that forms a solid foundation upon which the Bahl Center will build by enabling key recruitments and program development,” Hunnan said.