Rolf Swenson, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist

Chemistry and Synthesis Center


Building 9800B, Room 2034
9800 Medical Center Drive
Rockville, MD 20850


Research Topics

The Chemistry and Synthesis Center (CSC) provides Intramural Research Program scientists with targeted imaging probes that help accelerate cell based assays, in vivo imaging studies, and translational research leading to better disease diagnosis. It comprises a core synthesis facility dedicated to the preparation of imaging probes, and a research component dedicated to the discovery of new imaging approaches and compositions.


Rolf Swenson received his Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry at Cornell University working with Professor John McMurry. After post-doctoral study with Professor Wolfgang Oppolzer at the University of Geneva Switzerland, and Professor Hector DeLuca at the University of Wisconsin Madison, he joined Abbott Laboratories as a medicinal chemist. He moved to the combinatorial chemistry group and was a group leader working on rapid parallel synthesis. He then moved to Orchid BioSciences as a Director of Chemistry in charge of combinatorial chemistry in microfluidic devices, and while there led a project team that automated SNP genotyping to perform 1,000,000 genotypes/day. He left Orchid to become the International Area Head for Discovery Chemistry at Bracco Research USA. He led a team that prepared diagnostic imaging agents for PET/SPECT, Contrast enhanced ultrasound, MRI and optical applications. When the Princeton research facility was closed, Dr. Swenson started Arroyo BioSciences, LLC, which focused on discovering new drugs for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and other fibrotic disease. Since the beginning of 2014, Dr. Swenson has been the Director of the Chemistry and Synthesis Center (CSC) (formerly known as the Imaging Probe Development Center [IPDC]), where he has managed a group of chemists who prepare chemical tools including diverse diagnostic probes for the intramural community. He is an inventor on 67 US patents and an author on 64 scientific papers. He has contributed to one approved drug and five other compounds advanced to clinical trials.

Selected Publications

  1. Woodroofe CC, Swenson RE, Ivanic J, Levine RL, Monti S. Repurposing the Pummerer Rearrangement: Determination of Methionine Sulfoxides in Peptides. Chembiochem. 2019.

  2. Sato K, Gorka AP, Nagaya T, Michie MS, Nani RR, Nakamura Y, Coble VL, Vasalatiy OV, Swenson RE, Choyke PL, Schnermann MJ, Kobayashi H. Role of Fluorophore Charge on the In Vivo Optical Imaging Properties of Near-Infrared Cyanine Dye/Monoclonal Antibody Conjugates. Bioconjug Chem. 2016;27(2):404-13.

  3. Opina AC, Strickland M, Lee YS, Tjandra N, Andrew Byrd R, Swenson RE, Vasalatiy O. Analysis of the isomer ratios of polymethylated-DOTA complexes and the implications on protein structural studies. Dalton Trans. 2016;45(11):4673-87.

  4. Zhang X, Dunlow R, Blackman BN, Swenson RE. Optimization of 18 F-syntheses using 19 F-reagents at tracer-level concentrations and liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry analysis: Improved synthesis of [18 F]MDL100907. J Labelled Comp Radiopharm. 2018;61(5):427-437.

  5. Basuli F, Zhang X, Brugarolas P, Reich DS, Swenson RE. An efficient new method for the synthesis of 3-[18 F]fluoro-4-aminopyridine via Yamada-Curtius rearrangement. J Labelled Comp Radiopharm. 2018;61(2):112-117.

This page was last updated on February 21st, 2020