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About Us

Scientific co-founders, Kah-Whye Peng, Ph.D.

and Stephen J. Russell, M.D., Ph.D.

Our Mission 

To provide best-in-class reporter gene reagents and services to facilitate widespread adoption of noninvasive imaging in preclinical and clinical research. Imanis supports research in regenerative medicine, gene, virus and cell therapy, oncolytic virotherapy, and oncology drug discovery.

Our Science 

Proprietary NIS reporter gene imaging technology for unprecedented clarity in long-term longitudinal cell and virus tracking studies in small and large animal models. 

The first and only commercially available repository of recombinant oncolytic viruses encoding reporter genes for research use.

The Imanis Team

Our scientific founders are leading experts in their academic fields of oncolytic virotherapy and noninvasive nuclear diagnostic applications. The Imanis team comprises of PhD, MSc and BSc level scientists who are passionate about providing the best in class reporter gene reagents and virology expertise to help our clients with their research in diverse fields. We also have strong alliances and collaborations with key opinion leaders in the field and are committed to our mission to reduce animal use and refine techniques in animal research through the practice of the 3Rs. Our office, R&D service and manufacturing laboratories are located in the Minnesota Biobusiness Center, in Rochester Minnesota, home of the world renowned Mayo Clinic. 

Career Opportunities

Imanis is always open to enquires from highly motivated individuals keen to join the team of virologists, imaging scientists and operations personnel. Please kindly send enquiries to

Our Scientific Cofounders

Imanis was founded in 2012 by scientific cofounders, Drs. Stephen Russell, Kah-Whye Peng and Michael O’Connor, Professors at Mayo Clinic Rochester, MN.

Dr. Russell was recruited to Mayo Clinic from University of Cambridge, UK, in 1998 to be the Director of a new virus and gene therapy program at Mayo. As a clinician scientist, he had a dream to develop replication competent viruses for cancer therapy. Together with Dr. Kah-Whye Peng, they built a new program and later department (Molecular Medicine) known internationally for bench to clinical translation of oncolytic virotherapies. Dr. Russell wanted a reporter gene technology that enables long term monitoring of viruses in small and large animals and in human subjects. NIS is ideal as it is nonimmunogenic, species specific NIS exist allowing for easy transition from mouse to large animal models, is not harmful the normal physiology of the cell, and the radioisotopes are highly accessible without complex chemistry. As such the majority of oncolytic viruses generated in their labs contain a signature NIS reporter gene. Together with physicist Dr. Mike O’Connor, an expert in SPECT molecular imaging, they are strong advocates of incorporating molecular imaging in drug development and adoption of nuclear imaging in preclinical and clinical research to accelerate drug development. Today, NIS expressing measles virus and VSV are being tested in a number of Phase I and II clinical trials in patients with treatment refractory cancers.

Stephen J Russell, MD, Ph.D.

CEO and President of Imanis

Dr. Russell is the Richard O Jacobson Professor of Molecular Medicine, Consultant Hematologist, at Mayo Clinic Rochester and serves on the Board of Trustees of Buena Vista University, Storm Lake, Iowa where he holds an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. He was formerly the Dean for Discovery and Experimental Research at Mayo Clinic.  He obtained his medical degree from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland and his PhD from the University of London, England.  He trained at University College Hospital and the Royal Marsden Hospital, London, then moved to Cambridge, England where he led a research team in the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Biology (LMB), founded Cambridge Genetics, a biotechnology/drug discovery company that succeeded through a series of mergers, and was a practicing consultant hematologist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.  In 1998 he moved to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota where he chaired the Department of Molecular Medicine, built a comprehensive translational gene and virus therapy program, developed innovative technologies for targeting viruses to cancer cells and for noninvasively monitoring their spread in the body, orchestrated the first in-human testing of cancer-targeted oncolytic measles and vesicular stomatitis viruses and demonstrated that their spread can be monitored in human subjects using NIS reporter gene imaging technology.

Kah-Whye Peng, Ph.D.

COO and Secretary of Imanis

Dr. Peng is currently Professor of Oncology and Director of the Pharmacology and Toxicology Laboratory in the Deptartment of Molecular Medicine at Mayo Clinic. She is a Council Member of the International Society of Cell and Gene Therapy and serves on grant review panels of the National Institutes of Health. She obtained her BSc (First Class Honors) degree in Zoology from the National University of Singapore and her PhD degree from the University of Cambridge, England.  She moved to Mayo Clinic in 1998 and worked closely with Dr. Russell to design, equip and staff the research laboratories and translational infrastructure which subsequently became the Department of Molecular Medicine.  Her research focus is the development of new technologies that can be applied for targeting, monitoring and enhancing the potency of novel cell, gene and virus-based anticancer therapies, and to advance the most promising technologies to clinical testing.

Dennis E Young

Co-founder of Imanis and Chair of the Strategic Advisory Board

Mr. Young graduated with honors from Buena Vista University, Storm Lake, Iowa.  He was formerly executive vice president and chief financial officer of Wells Fargo Financial, Inc., Des Moines, Iowa. At the time of his retirement from that role in 2006, Wells Fargo Financial’s assets totaled over $50 billion, with 20,000 employees.  Currently he has a number of consulting roles in the finance and investment areas and serves on a number of civic and non-profit boards and committees.

Michael K O’Connor, Ph.D.

Founding member of Imanis and member of the Strategic Advisory Board

Dr. O'Connor is Professor of Medical Physics and Consultant in Nuclear Medicine in the Department of Diagnostic Radiology at Mayo Clinic. He obtained his undergraduate BSc and PhD degrees in Experimental Physics from Trinity College, Dublin, then specialized in radiologic physics. In 1986 he moved to Mayo Clinic and his research focuses on the development of novel radioisotopic approaches to molecular breast imaging.  He has numerous issued patents in the field of nuclear medicine encompassing a broad range of technical advances, for example in quantitative molecular imaging, dual modality imaging, methods for radiation dose reduction, energy spectrum analysis, and collimator optimization for molecular breast imaging.  He has worked closely with Drs. Russell and Peng on the technical aspects of NIS reporter gene imaging technology and the interpretation/reporting of NIS imaging data.

Use Fewer Animals

Our Reduction Campaign

At Imanis, we are committed to promoting the practice of the 3Rs in animal research. Learn how we are decreasing the use of animals and research as well as saving up to 15% on your orders. Continue reading...

Use Fewer Animals

Our Reduction Campaign

At Imanis, we are committed to promoting the practice of the 3Rs in animal research. Learn how we are decreasing the use of animals and research as well as saving up to 15% on your orders. Continue reading...