Dr. Michael E. Phelps (Encino) and Dr. Jorge Barrio (Agoura Hills) of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA were recognized at the Society of Nuclear Medicineâ€™s annual conference for their groundbreaking inventions in the field of nuclear medicine.
Phelps, the Norton Simon professor and chair of the UCLA Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, earned the 2002 Cassen Prize â€” the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in nuclear medicine.
Acknowledging Phelpsâ€™ accomplished research career, the prize specifically recognized his invention of the positron emission tomography (PET) scanner. The revolutionary technology is used to image the biology of disease for early detection, diagnosis, staging and selection of therapy in cancer, Alzheimerâ€™s and heart disease in patients.
â€śI am honored to be acknowledged by my peers with such a distinguished award,â€? said Phelps, president of the Academy of Molecular Imaging (AMI) and the awardâ€™s fifth recipient. â€śThis achievement would not have been possible without the support I have received from my UCLA colleagues over the many years we have worked together.â€?
The Cassen Prize is named in honor of the late UCLA physicist Dr. Benedict Cassen, who invented the rectilinear scanner, the first nuclear medicine imaging device for patients.
Barrio, a UCLA professor of molecular and medical pharmacology, received the 2002 Aebersold Award for lifetime achievement in the basic sciences. He was recognized for inventing a new molecular probe and combining it with PET to create the first technique to image early signs of Alzheimerâ€™s disease in the living brain. Barrio serves on the AMI board of directors and is editor-in-chief of Molecular Imaging and Biology.
â€śI feel humbled and deeply honored by this award. It would not have been possible without my students, post-doctoral fellows and colleagues at UCLA,â€? Barrio said. â€śThis award recognizes all the basic scientists who have laid the foundation and brought our discipline to where it is today.â€?
First presented in 1973, Barrioâ€™s award is named after Dr. Paul C. Aebersold, a pioneer in the biologic and medical application of radioactive materials, and first director of the Atomic Energy Commissionâ€™s Division of Isotope Development.