Matthew Scarpelli

Research Interests / Training Areas

  • Investigating the role of the immune system in the biological response to radiation
    • There is increasing evidence that radiotherapy stimulates the immune system through the release of tumor antigens from dead tumor cells. These antigens are recognized by the immune system, stimulating an immune response against residual tumor cells and in rare cases distant metastases through the abscopal effect. However, these responses are not fully understood and distant metastatic responses to localized radiotherapy are exceedingly rare. Investigating this phenomenon and leveraging it to improve the efficacy of radiotherapy is a guiding principle of the lab.
  • Establishing imaging biomarkers of the immune system
    • There is no established clinical method for measuring immune responses in tumors or specific organs. Due to the dynamic nature of the immune system, conventional tissue biomarkers derived at a single timepoint (e.g., tissue biopsies), generally do not provide reliable measures of the immune system. Furthermore, conventional imaging methods, often used to track changes in tumor size, are insensitive to the immune system and its effects on the tumor. Dr. Matthew Scarpelli’s lab prioritizes development of molecular PET and MR imaging techniques that are sensitive to these effects and could be used as subjective measurements of immune response.
  • Development of image-guided radio and immunotherapies
    • Dr. Scarpelli’s laboratory seeks to expand image-guidance in radiotherapy to include immunogenic targeting and adaptive therapy. This is accomplished through translational studies and collaborations with various medical centers.   


Dr. Matthew Scarpelli is an Assistant Professor within the School of Health Sciences at Purdue University. He obtained a B.S.E. degree in Nuclear Engineering and Radiologic Sciences from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. degree in Medical Physics from the University of Wisconsin. He did his postdoctoral work at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix Arizona. As a faculty at Purdue, his research focuses on understanding how it is that two patients, with the same type of cancer (or disease), can have significantly different outcomes.  His lab is specifically interested in the interplay between radiation and the immune system.  The studies aim to elucidate mechanisms of radiation induced immune suppression and or stimulation.  These findings are translated into new diagnostic and therapeutic techniques that utilize radiation for treatment of disease.  

Recent / Representative Publications

Matthew Scarpelli, Healey DR, Mehta S, Kodibagkar VD, Quarles CC. A practical method for multimodal registration and assessment of whole-brain disease burden using PET, MRI, and optical imaging.  Sci Rep2020, 10(1):17324doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-74459-1

Matthew Scarpelli, Christopher Zahm, Scott Perlman, Douglas G. McNeel, Robert Jeraj and Glenn Liu. FLT PET/CT imaging of metastatic prostate cancer patients treated with pTVG-HP DNA vaccine and pembrolizumab.  J Immunother Cancer. 2019, 7(1):23. doi: 10.1186/s40425-019-0516-1

Matthew Scarpelli, Urban Simoncic, Scott Perlman, Glenn Liu, and Robert Jeraj.  Dynamic 18F-FLT PET imaging of spatiotemporal changes in tumor cell proliferation and vasculature reveals the mechanistic actions of anti-angiogenic therapy.   Phys Med Biol. 2018, 63(15):155008.

Matthew Scarpelli, Jens Eickhoff, Enrique Cuna, Scott Perlman, Robert Jeraj, Optimal transformations leading to normal distributions of positron emission tomography standardized uptake values.  Phys Med Biol. 2018, 63:035021. doi: 10.1088/1361-6560/aaa175

Yuting Lin, Stephen McMahon, Matthew Scarpelli, Harold Paganetti, Jan Schuemann.  Comparing gold nano-particle enhanced radiotherapy with proton, megavoltage photons and kilovoltage photons: a monte carlo simulation.  Phys Med Biol.  2014, 59:7675-7689. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/59/24/7675 


Assistant Professor

Phone: 765-496-0870
Fax: 765-496-1377

Purdue University, School of Health Sciences, 550 Stadium Mall Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-1419, Fax: (765) 496-1377

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