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U.S. National Institutes of Health
Cancer Diagnosis Program Cancer Imaging Program Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program Developmental Therapeutics Program Radiation Research Program Translational Research Program Biometric Research Branch Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Last Updated: 04/30/2012



Paula M. Jacobs, Ph.D., is Associate Director, Cancer Imaging Program in the Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis at the National Cancer Institute. She came to work at the NCI after 30 years in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries where she was a key developer of ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxide drugs as magnetic resonance imaging agents and iron replacement therapeutics. Her efforts for NCI have been focused on lowering the scientific, logistical, and regulatory barriers to investigational use of PET radiopharmaceuticals for therapeutic drug development by facilitating access to IND filings and by research to develop labeled drugs for clinical and preclinical use. Another effort is focused on wide-ranging aspects of standardization and quantitative imaging techniques and a third focus is on genome-imaging correlations.

Dr. Jacobs serves on three NCI Experimental Therapeutics (NExT) committees to review and manage the projects chosen for development. She directs a radiochemistry facility in Frederick that prepares preclinical and early clinical radiopharmaceuticals in support of therapeutic drug development.

Dr. Jacobs received her undergraduate degree in chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduate degrees at Tufts University and Northeastern University. Her post-doctoral training was at Northeastern University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Peter Bent Brigham Hospital/Harvard Medical School.

Her industrial experience began at Clinical Assays, a division of Baxter Travenol that manufactured in vitro radioimmunoassays, where she was responsible for process improvements in radioactive tracer synthesis, technical product maintenance, product and process improvements, and manufacturing of all reagents used in the company's products. At Seragen, a small biotechnology firm, she was General Manager, with P&L responsibility for a division that developed, manufactured, and marketed prostaglandin, leukotriene, and small protein immunoassays. Subsequently she joined Advanced Magnetics as Vice President, Development, to help chart a new course for this small biomedical products company. She was responsible for development of iron oxide magnetic contrast agents from laboratory synthesis through IND submissions, including designing pharmacology, toxicology, and clinical studies. She served as international liaison for technology transfer to licensees and worked with independent physicians in the U.S. and abroad to develop physician IND trials in MR imaging and collaborated with academic researchers in a variety of preclinical investigations.

She has published papers in the areas of organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, magnetic resonance imaging, neuro-oncology, and nephrology.