QGATE: An Educational Environment to Learn and Perform Nuclear Medicine Imaging Simulation with GATE

Xiping Li, Weizhao Zhao*
Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33146, USA

© 2011 Li and Zhao;

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33146, USA; Tel: 1-305-284-6763; Fax: 1-305-284-6494; E-mails:;


Geant4 Application for Tomographic Emission (GATE) is a commonly used platform developed for nuclear medicine imaging simulation. It has been used to investigate imaging system's sensitivity, data acquisition methods, or image reconstruction algorithms. The GATE system, based on the Monte Carlo method, operates relying on user-provided scripts that follow the program definitions in the system’s command library. Script-writing is usually time-consuming and frequently error-associated unless one has had certain experience in the simulation field and is familiar with programming. This is obviously an obstacle to students and beginners. The learning curve of script-writing is relatively flat to nonprogramming background learners. In addition, the GATE system is commonly installed on a high-performance computer, on which the scripts are usually compiled and used by the user only. In order to utilize GATE's potential to be a routine simulation toolkit, we have developed QGATE, a GUI-based GATE system. The QGATE system provides users a graphical environment where a simulation design is achieved by fashions like “drag-and-drop objects” and “choose-and-modify parameters”. The scripts will be automatically generated and complied by the system. Parameters belonging to each object have default values so as to avoid errors induced by new users. The QGATE system consists of one or more QGATE Clients and one QGATE Server. The Client can be installed on individual computers so that multiple users can work on their simulation projects simultaneously by using the graphical designing tools. The Server is installed on the same computer as the GATE system resides. The Server manages the submitted simulation scripts queued by a job ticket and returns the job finish signal to the corresponding client. The QGATE system is suitable for classroom training and easy to use for students or new users to the field of nuclear medicine imaging simulation.

Keywords: PET, Virtual laboratory, Server-client, GUI.