SNMMI Honors Outstanding Contributors at Annual Meeting

July 13, 2016

Individuals recognized for dedication and service to the nuclear medicine profession

Reston, Va.  — The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI), an international scientific and medical organization, recognized contributions to the field of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging during its 2016 Annual Meeting in San Diego, Calif. Several awards ceremonies were held to recognize the valuable role SNMMI members play in advancing the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease, cancer and neurological conditions.

SNMMI Presidential Distinguished Service Award

This year, two SNMMI Presidential Distinguished Service Awards were given in recognition of continual dedication to the society. They were presented to Peter Herscovitch MD, FACP, FRCPC, FSNMMI, director of the PET Department at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., and to Satoshi Minoshima, MD, PhD, professor of radiology and chairman of the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.

A past president of SNMMI, Herscovitch has served at the NIH Clinical Center since 1987. He was named chief of the PET section that year and in 2005 was appointed director of the PET department. Prior to his career at NIH, Herscovitch was an attending physician at Barnes Hospital and an instructor and assistant professor of neurology and radiology at Washington University School of Medicine, both in St. Louis, Mo. An SNMMI member since 1983, Herscovitch has been involved in many councils, committees, task forces and other groups. He chaired SNMMI’s Scientific Program Committee, served on the SNMMI Center for Molecular Imaging Innovation and Translation board of directors, and was a member of the Ethics and Education committees.

Minoshima is vice president-elect of SNMMI. He earned his MD and PhD from Chiba University School of Medicine in Japan. Prior to his position at the University of Utah, he served on the faculty of the University of Michigan, as well as the University of Washington, where he was also vice chair for research in the Department of Radiology. Minoshima has published seminal research studies concerning neurodegenerative diseases and other brain disorders using innovative imaging technology. His contributions to the field include discovery of the posterior cingulate abnormality in Alzheimer’s disease and invention and worldwide dissemination of diagnostic statistical mapping technology for molecular brain imaging. Minoshima served as president of the SNMMI Brain Imaging Council and currently serves as chair of the SNMMI Scientific Program Committee.

SNMMI Presidential Distinguished Educator Award

Dominique Delbeke, MD, PhD, was selected for the SNMMI Presidential Distinguished Educator Award for her contributions to education and professional development as editor of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

A past president of SNMMI, Delbeke is a nuclear medicine physician, professor of radiology and radiological sciences at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and director of Nuclear Medicine and Positron Emission Tomography at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She is co-editor of five textbooks and has published more than 160 peer-reviewed articles, including procedure standards and 70 book chapters. Her primary expertise and research interest revolve around PET/CT and SPECT/CT, primarily in oncology but also in cardiology and neurology. She is a lifetime member of the American Board of Nuclear Medicine.

Henry J. Wagner, Jr., Lectureship

Joanna S. Fowler, PhD, scientist emeritus of the Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, delivered the Henry N. Wagner, Jr., Lectureship on Sunday, June 12. Her speech, “Working Against Time: Designing and Synthesizing 18FDG for the First Human Studies in 1976,” discussed the historical development 50 years ago of the radiotracer that has become the most widely used in basic research and clinical settings and has facilitated tremendous advances in the study of the human brain and in the detection of malignant tumors.

Fowler is currently a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where she has collaborated with colleagues on brain imaging studies of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, among other conditions.

Henry N. Wagner, Jr., MD, Best Paper Award

Mark T. Madsen, PhD, professor of radiology in the Department of Nuclear Medicine at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, received the Henry N. Wagner, Jr., MD, Best Paper Award for Personalized kidney dosimetry for Y-90 DOTATOC radionuclide therapy.”

Michael J. Welch Award

Robert Dannals, PhD, director of the PET Center and professor of radiology and radiological science at Johns Hopkins Medicine, Baltimore, Md., received the Michael J. Welch Award, which is presented annually by SNMMI’s Radiopharmaceutical Sciences Council to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to radiopharmaceutical sciences.

Dannals is well known for his pioneering research in the development of short-lived radiotracers for positron emission tomography and single photon emission-computed tomography. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University, as well as his PhD in chemistry. Dannals serves as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Labeled Compounds and Radiopharmaceuticals and is a reviewer for several professional journals, including the Journal of Nuclear Medicine and the International Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Biology.

Berson-Yalow Award

Dongzhi Yang, PhD, received the Berson-Yalow Award. The award commemorates Rosalyn S. Yalow, PhD, and Solomon A. Berson, MD, who together developed the radioimmunoassay (RIA) technique in the 1950s. SNMMI established the award in 1977, the year that Yalow received the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine. Judges for the award choose the investigator who submits the most original abstract presentation at SNMMI’s Annual Meeting and who has made significant contributions to basic or clinical RIA research, or any area of research using the indicator-dilution method.

Yang is a postdoctoral research fellow in molecular imaging at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich. He received his PhD in analytical chemistry from Northeastern University in Shenyang, China, in 2008 and teaches at Xuzhou Medical University, Xuzhou, China. His projects involve PET imaging with novel agents and antibodies for targeted radiotherapy and cancer detection. His winning abstract is titled “ImmunoPET of urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) system: broad applicability in cancer imaging.”

Loevinger-Berman Award

Joseph A. O’Donoghue, PhD, received the Loevinger-Berman Award, which was established in 1999 by the Medical Internal Radiation Dose (MIRD) Committee in honor of Robert Loevinger, PhD, and Mones Berman, PhD, who formulated the MIRD schema for internal dose calculations. The award is given in recognition of excellence pertaining to the field of internal dosimetry as it relates to nuclear medicine through research and/or development, significant publication contributions or advancement of the understanding of internal dosimetry in relationship to risk and therapeutic efficacy.

O’Donoghue is an associate attending physicist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, N.Y. His research focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of systemic malignant disease with radiolabeled molecules and molecular imaging of tumors. His recent studies have focused on imaging the tumor microenvironment (especially oxygen deficiency, or hypoxia); imaging metastatic prostate, colorectal, and renal cell tumors with radiolabeled monoclonal antibodies; and using the alpha particle-emitting agent radium-223 dichloride to treat prostate cancer that has metastasized to bone.

Edward J. Hoffman Memorial Award

Irène Buvat, PhD, is this year’s recipient of the Edward J. Hoffman Memorial Award, which is presented annually by SNMMI’s Computer and Instrumentation Council. The award was established to honor the memory of Professor Edward J. Hoffman and recognizes scientists in the field of nuclear medicine for their service and devotion to research and development of nuclear medicine instrumentation and to educating and training the next generation of scientists.

Buvat received her PhD in particle and nuclear physics from Paris-Sud University, Orsay, France, in 1992 and has since focused on applications of nuclear physics to medical imaging. She is currently the head of the In Vivo Molecular Imaging Research Lab at the Service Hospitalier Frédéric Joliot PET Center in Orsay. Since 2005, she has been the spokesperson of the worldwide OpenGATE collaboration developing the GATE Monte Carlo simulation tool dedicated to emission and transmission tomography and radiotherapy applications.

Peter E. Valk, MD, Memorial Award

Richard L. Wahl, MD, received the Peter E. Valk, MD, Memorial Award, which was created to honor the memory of Peter E. Valk, MD, a pioneer in the establishment of PET as an important clinical study. Wahl was recognized for his contributions to the advancement of PET, including PET/CT, PET/MRI and other emerging technologies, as well as his dedication to the SNMMI PET Center of Excellence.

Wahl is Elizabeth Mallinckrodt Professor of Radiology, chairman of the Department of Radiology, and director of the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo. His research played an important role in the development of radioimmunotherapy for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Wahl has also been a leader in the use of PET scans to diagnose a broad array of human cancers and other diseases, and he is at the forefront of efforts to combine quantitative data from PET scans with computerized tomography (CT) to form “fusion” images that can help physicians more precisely diagnose and characterize cancers. He holds 18 patents in radiology and has published more than 400 peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts. He is the primary author of several textbooks, including Principles and Practice of PET and PET/CT.

Kuhl-Lassen Lecture Award

Robert B. Innis, MD, PhD, received the Kuhl-Lassen Lecture Award, presented by the SNMMI Brain Imaging Council. The award recognizes a scientist who has made outstanding contributions and whose research in and service to the discipline of functional brain imaging is of the highest caliber. Innis gave the lecture entitled, “PET of Human Brain Can Monitor Neuroinflammation and cAMP Signaling: Applications to Alzheimer's Disease and Depression.”

Innis has been chief of the Molecular Imaging Branch at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md., since 2001. His laboratory develops and uses PET radioligands to study pathophysiology in several neuropsychiatric disorders. In addition to traditional receptor targets, he uses radiolabeled probes for in vivo imaging of intracellular signal transduction, gene expression, and a mitochondrial protein that is a marker for inflammatory cells. Innis earned his BS in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale College and his MD, as well as his PhD in pharmacology, from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Walter Wolf Young Investigator Award                        

Yong-il Kim, PhD, received this year’s Walter Wolf Young Investigator Award for his abstract titled Prognostic Value of Pre-treatment Ga-68-RGD PET-CT in Predicting Disease Free Survival in Patients with Breast Cancer: A Comparison Study with Dynamic Contrast Enhanced MRI.” Each year, the award recognizes a young investigator for originality, scientific methodology and overall contribution to molecular imaging or therapy through original research showing the importance and value of correlative imaging in all fields of medicine.

Hermann Blumgart Award

Prem Soman, MD, PhD, was selected by SNMMI’s Cardiovascular Council to receive the Hermann Blumgart Award. The award annually recognizes a key contributor to the science of nuclear cardiology who is also an advocate for the field through involvement with the society’s research and educational activities.

Soman is associate professor of medicine and of clinical and translational Science in the Division of Cardiology at the Vascular Medicine Institute of the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pa. He is also director of the Nuclear Cardiology Laboratory and the Advanced Cardiac Imaging Fellowship at the institute. Soman is widely recognized for his contributions to the field of nuclear cardiology. He practices clinical cardiology, nuclear cardiology and echocardiography at the UPMC Presbyterian Hospital. Under his direction, the Nuclear Cardiology Laboratory performs high-volume, state-of-the-art imaging and is a national leader in clinical research, including the use of a new generation, solid-state SPECT camera and innovative imaging protocols that have enabled significant reductions in radiation dose to patients.

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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.