UCLA’s Phelps, PET inventor, receives Nuclear Pioneer Award from SNMMI

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Michael E. Phelps, PhD, professor and chair of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Department of Molecular & Medical Pharmacology, received the Georg Charles de Hevesy Nuclear Pioneer Award from the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) for his work in the field, including his role in the development of the PET scanner.

Phelps was presented the award at the SNMMI 2015 annual meeting in Baltimore.

"Mike Phelps has made major contributions to the field of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging for more than four decades," said SNMMI President Peter Herscovitch, MD, in a press release. "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."

Phelps invented the PET technique in the early 1970s, developing the first scanner in 1973 with Edward Hoffman, PhD, at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Phelps went on to establish and direct the first clinical PET center at the UCLA School of Medicine. He led faculty from U.S. medical schools in a national effort to earn FDA approval for the technology and reimbursement for its use in cancer, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease and epilepsy diagnosis.

"I accept this award in representation of the hundreds of faculty, students and staff at UCLA who contributed to the research and clinical practice of PET,” said Phelps. “Added to this are the efforts of faculty from medical schools across our great country in producing the evidence for FDA approval and reimbursement."