Michael R. Zalutsky, PhD, a professor of radiology and biomedical engineering at Duke University in Durham, N.C., received the 2007 Paul C. Aebersold Award for outstanding achievement in basic nuclear medicine science at SNM 2007 yesterday in Washington, D.C. The award is named after Paul C. Aebersold, a pioneer in the biologic and medical application of radioactive materials and the first director of the Atomic Energy Commission’s Division of Isotope Development.
"With this award, the molecular imaging and nuclear medicine community recognizes Dr. Zalutsky’s intellectual capital, national reputation and prominent role in advancing significant contributions to medical science — especially in using molecular targeting to combat cancer," said SNM President Martin P. Sandler. "He has made many contributions to both the basic and applied aspects of molecular therapy and nuclear medicine in a variety of areas, including radionuclide production, radiochemistry and radiation biology." .
Mathew L. Thakur, chair of SNM’s Committee on Awards and an Aebersold recipient said, "Only a small group of highly distinguished researchers have received the Aebersold Award for outstanding achievement in basic science applied to nuclear medicine. Dr. Zalutsky’s contributions highly qualify to place him in that group of individuals."
Thakur indicated that Zalutsky’s research has had a significant impact on the concepts and methods that drive the field of therapeutic nuclear medicine, showing how technologies and approaches from the domain of nuclear medicine can have an impact on other disciplines.
Zalutsky’s many accomplishments include contributions: in developing improved methods for the radiohalogenation of monoclonal antibodies and peptides; in developing protein radiohalogenation methods for labeling monoclonal antibodies and peptides that are rapidly internalized into tumor cells; for advancing the field of clinical radioimmunotherapy by performing a series of studies that defined the feasibility of treating malignant brain tumors with labeled monoclonal antibodies; for contributing to the field of targeted radiotherapeutics, particularly those labeled with the alpha-particle emitter astatine-211; and for making significant advances in other aspects of alpha particle radiotherapy.
"I am honored to receive this prestigious award," said Zalutsky who has served as a professor of radiology since 1990 and professor of biomedical engineering since 1999. "I think it’s wonderful that the society recognizes our type of work, which is primarily in molecular therapy — not diagnosis," said the Pittsfield, Mass., native who is the director of the Radiolabeling Facility Shared Resource and is a member of the cancer immunobiology, neuro-oncology and radiation oncology programs in the Duke University Comprehensive Cancer Center.
"The strength of nuclear medicine is that with the right combination of therapeutic radionuclide and targeting molecule, it is possible to fight cancer in a very specific way that ultimately may be able to be fine tuned to the needs of individual patients. Other technologies can’t do that," Zalutsky said.
"Targeted radionuclide therapy will expand in the future; it is one of the most promising applications of radioactivity in medicine," he noted.