Markle Foundation Partners with SNMMI to Commemorate 75th Anniversary of Transformative Treatment for Thyroid Disease

June 12, 2016

Foundation Funded First Treatment of Thyroid Disease with Radioactive Iodine

San Diego, Calif. (June 12, 2016) – This year marks the 75th anniversary of the first treatment of thyroid disease with radioactive iodine. In March 1941, Dr. Saul Hertz administered cyclotron-produced iodine-130 to a patient at Massachusetts General Hospital for the treatment of benign thyroid disease. The Markle Foundation, which supported the purchase of that cyclotron in 1939, has now partnered with SNMMI to commemorate this anniversary at SNMMI’s Annual Meeting, June 11-15 in San Diego, Calif.

Markle’s decision to fund the cyclotron—perhaps the first one built primarily for medical use—was a leap of faith. The efficacy of this course of treatment was unproven, and the foundation’s investment was substantial. The cyclotron was built at Massachusetts Institute of Technology specifically for the production of radioactive iodine by Saul Hertz, MD, and his colleagues. It enabled research that eventually culminated in a significant medical advancement: the successful use of radioactive iodine in the targeted treatment of benign thyroid diseases such as Graves’ disease (or hyperthyroidism), leading to the first targeted treatment for cancer, specifically thyroid cancer. Targeted radionuclide therapy remains a very active area of research today, offering some of the most promising opportunities in the realm of personalized, targeted molecular therapy.

SNMMI has developed the Saul Hertz, MD, 75th Anniversary Commemorative Initiative to honor this seminal event in patient treatment and to showcase the innovative, transformative contributions to healthcare by the physicians and researchers who followed. The Markle Foundation has made a generous contribution to the initiative, which includes a new lifetime achievement award—the Saul Hertz, MD, Award—to recognize individuals who have made outstanding contributions to radionuclide therapy. Other elements include a symposium, which will be held on Monday, June 13; a historical exhibit, and the creation of a permanent archive of historical records associated with the original research.

Since its inception in 1927 by John and Mary R. Markle, the Foundation has worked “to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge among people of the United States, and to promote the general good of mankind.” During its early years, Markle led the expansion of talent in academic medicine, and later the foundation focused on developing and using communication and information to enhance lifelong learning and to promote an informed citizenry.

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About the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) is an international scientific and medical organization dedicated to raising public awareness about nuclear medicine and molecular imaging, a vital element of today’s medical practice that adds an additional dimension to diagnosis, changing the way common and devastating diseases are understood and treated and helping provide patients with the best health care possible.

SNMMI’s more than 17,000 members set the standard for molecular imaging and nuclear medicine practice by creating guidelines, sharing information through journals and meetings and leading advocacy on key issues that affect molecular imaging and therapy research and practice. For more information, visit www.snmmi.org.