Opening Date: August 1, 2019
Sponsor: Therapy Center of Excellence
SNMMI has established The Dr. Saul Hertz Lifetime Achievement Award in honor of the professional achievements of Dr. Hertz as the pioneer of Radioiodine Therapy. The award recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to radionuclide therapy.
Dr. Hertz was the first and foremost to develop the experimental data on radioiodine (RAI) and apply it in the clinical setting to treat hyperthyroidism. At the onset of the animal studies experiments in 1937, Dr Hertz thought that there would be equally promising therapeutic possibilities in the treatment of cancer of the thyroid. In early 1941, he administered MIT's Markle Cyclotron produced radioiodine (RAI) as a therapeutic dose to the first human patient with hyperthyroidism (Graves' Disease) at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Dr. Hertz developed and utilized RAI as the first and the gold standard in targeted therapies. He envisioned an expansion of nuclear targeted cancer therapies in an article published in The American Weekly (June 2, 1946) in which he stated, "...demand is expected for radioactive iodine and as research develops in the fields of cancer and leukemia for other radioactive medicines." The development of radioactive iodine in the treatment of thyroid disease is a cornerstone upon which nuclear medicine was built. Barbara Bush, who was successfully treated for Graves' Disease, wrote to Vitta Hertz, his widow, "It is comforting to know that so many people are well because of the scientific expertise of people like Dr. Hertz."
Dr. Hertz was born on April 20, 1905, to Aaron Daniel (A.D.) Hertz and Bertha Hertz in Cleveland, Ohio. He graduated from the University of Michigan with Phi Beta Kappa honors. He received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1929, and performed his internship and residency at Cleveland's Mount Sinai Hospital. He wrote over 50 scientific publications dealing mainly with topics in thyroid physiology, its disease and treatment. He influenced the development of nuclear medicine through his research and instruction at both Harvard and MIT. Dr. Hertz was an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and Harvard University from 1946 - 1950. His teaching included an attachment to the Nuclear Physics Department at Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1939 – 1950. Dr. Hertz passed in 1950, at age 45 from a sudden death heart attack leaving a profound and enduring legacy impacting countless generations of patients, numerous institutions worldwide and setting a cornerstone for the field of Nuclear Medicine.