The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) named Michael E. Phelps, Ph.D., the inventor of positron emission tomography (PET) and the first PET scanner, as the recipient of the society’s prestigious Georg Charles de Hevesy Nuclear Pioneer Award at its annual meeting held in Baltimore last week.
Phelps is the Norton Simon professor and chair of the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at the University of California Los Angeles. He is also director of the Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging, professor of biomathematics, and director of the Institute for Molecular Medicine.
In the early 1970’s Phelps invented PET, the molecular imaging technology that uses a PET scanner and a radiolabeled probe to provide molecular imaging diagnostics of the biology of disease. Phelps developed the first PET scanner with Edward Hoffman, Ph.D., at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis in 1973. He established and directed the first clinical PET center at the UCLA School of Medicine, and led a national effort of faculty at U.S. medical schools to provide the evidence for U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval and federal and private insurance reimbursement for PET diagnoses in cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, and epilepsy.
SNMMI President Peter Herscovitch, M.D., lauded Phelps for his work in nuclear medicine and molecular imaging over four decades. He said, “When he invented the PET scanner, he ultimately changed the lives of millions of patients with cancer, brain disease, and heart disease. He also created a valuable tool for biomedical research that has helped to map the human brain and support the development of new pharmaceuticals.”Back To Top
Michael E. Phelps – PET pioneer – honored by SNMMI . Appl Radiol.