Bradley T. Christian

Credentials: PhD

Position title: Professor of Medical Physics and Psychiatry
Director of PET Physics, Waisman Brain Imaging Lab


Phone: (608) 890-0750

Waisman Center

Brad Christian is a primary advisor in the Department of Medical Physics.


B.S., 1989, Physics, St. John’s University

M.S., 1991, Medical Physics, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Ph.D., 1994, Medical Physics, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Research Interests

Our lab researches the development, characterization and translation of novel PET radiotracers for studying brain chemistry, from neurodevelopment to neurodegeneration. Our ongoing research projects involve the characterization of PET neuroligands to study the presence of beta amyloid and tau pathology related to Alzheimer’s disease. We are also actively involved in research projects examining the neurochemical systems of the brain related to dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine function and neuroinflammation. Collaborations are widespread across UW neuroscience departments in areas of imaging genetics to study the influence of gene x environment interactions and monitoring induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) activity.


  • Lao PJ, Handen BL, Betthauser TJ, Mihaila I, Hartley SL, Cohen AD, Tudorascu DL, Bulova PD, Lopresti BJ, Tumuluru RV, Murali D, Mathis CA, Barnhart TE, Stone CK, Price JC, Devenny DA, Mailick MR, Klunk WE, Johnson SC, Christian BT. Longitudinal changes in amyloid PET and volumetric MRI in the non-demented Down syndrome population. Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring. 23(9):1-9, 2017. PMCID: PMC5454131.
  • Darst BF, Koscik RL, Racine AM, Oh JM, Carlsson CM, Zetterberg H, Blennow K, Christian BT, Bendlin BB, Okonkwo OC, Hogan KJ, Hermann BP, Johnson SC, Engelman CD. Pathway specific polygenic risk scores as predictors of beta-amyloid deposition and cognitive function in a sample at increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. J Alzheimer’s Disease. 55(2):473-484, 2017. PMCID: PMC5123972.
  • Dougherty RJ, Schultz SA, Kirby TK, Boots EA, Oh JM, Edwards DF, Gallagher CL, Carlsson CM, Bendlin BB, Asthana S, Sager MA, Hermann BP, Christian BT, Johnson SC, Cook DB, Okonkwo OC. Moderate physical activity is associated with cerebral glucose metabolism in adults at risk for AD. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 58(4):1089-1097, 2017. PMCID: pending.
  • Nicholas C, Hoscheidt SM, Clark LR, Racine AM, Berman SE, Koscik RL, Dowling NM, Asthana S, Christian BT, Sager MA, Johnson SC. Positive affect predicts cerebral glucose metabolism in late middle-aged adults. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 2017 Apr 11. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsx027. [Epub ahead of print]. PMCID: PMC5472120.

  • Betthauser TJ, Lao PJ, Murali D, Barnhart TE, Furumoto S, Okamura N, Stone C, Johnson SC, Christian BT. In vivo comparison of tau radioligands 18F-THK-5351 and 18F-THK-5317. J Nucl Med. 58(6): 996-1002, 2017. PMCID: PMC5425312.
  • Hartley SL, Handen BL, Devenny DA, Hardison R, Mihaila I, Price JC, Cohen AD, Klunk WE, Mailick MR, Johnson SC, Christian BT. Cognitive Decline and Brain Amyloid-β Accumulation across 3-years in Adults with Down Syndrome. Neurobiology of Aging. 58:68-76, 2017. PMCID: PMC5581712
  • Betthauser TJ, Ellison P, Murali D, Lao PJ, Barnhart TE, Furumoto S, Okamura N, Johnson SC, Engles JW, Nickles RJ, Christian BT. Characterization of the radiosynthesis and purification of [18F]THK-5351, a PET ligand for neurofibrillary tau. Applied Radiation and Isotopes. 130:230-237, 2017.
  • Betthauser TJ, Lao PJ, Ehlerding E, Hillmer AT, Mukherjee J, Christian BT. Human biodistribution and dosimetry of [18F]nifene, an α4β2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor PET tracer. 55:7-11. doi: 10.1016/j.nucmedbio.2017.08.001. Epub 2017 Aug 17.

  • Lao PJ, Betthauser TJ, Tudorascu DL, Barnhart TE, Hillmer AT, Stone CK, Mukherjee J, Christian BT. [18F]Nifene test-retest reproducibility in first-in-human imaging of α4β2* nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Synapse. 2017 Aug;71(8). doi: 10.1002/syn.21981. Epub 2017 Apr 26. PMCID: PMC5541262.
  • Lao PJ, Handen BL, Betthauser TJ, Mihaila I, Hartley SL, Cohen AD, Tudorascu DL, Bulova PD, Lopresti BJ, Tumuluru RV, Murali D, Mathis CA, Barnhart TE, Stone CK, Price JC, Devenny DA, Johnson SC, Klunk WE, Christian BT. Alzheimer-like pattern of hypometabolism emerges with elevated amyloid burden in Down syndrome. Neurobiology of Aging. In Press 2017.
  • Mukherjee J, Lao P, Betthauser T, Pan ML, Samra GK, Patel IH, Liang C, Matherate R, Christian BT. Human Brain Imaging of Nicotinic Acetylcholine α4β2* Receptors using [18F]Nifene: Selectivity, Functional Activity,Toxicity, Aging Effects, Gender Effects and Extrathalamic Pathways. J Comp Neurol. 2018 Jan 1;526(1):80-95. doi: 10.1002/cne.24320. Epub 2017 Sep 19.