PET Pioneer to Deliver Cancer Center Lecture

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.— Michael E. Phelps, Ph.D., the inventor of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanning technology, is coming to West Virginia University.  Dr. Phelps will deliver the 2005 Jean and Laurence DeLynn Lecture to friends, students, faculty and staff of the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, and the general public at 10 a.m., June 15, at the WVU Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center auditorium.  The title of his lecture will be PET: Managing the Biology of Disease to Improve the Care of Patients from Neurological Disorders to Cancer.

PET scanning is a branch of nuclear medicine that uses radioactive tracers that are injected into the patient’s bloodstream through intravenous port.  As the radioactive elements break down, they interact with electrons in the body, sending signals to the PET scanner, which takes real-time pictures of the biological processes of all the organ systems in a single examination. The technology is one of the most effective tools for diagnosing and staging cancer. 

“We are greatly honored to have the pioneer of PET technology visit our campus,” said John E. Prescott, M.D., dean of the WVU School of Medicine and interim director of the Cancer Center.  “His work has resulted in revolutionary changes in the way we diagnose and treat cancer and other metastatic diseases.”

Dr. Phelps is the chair of molecular and medical pharmacology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He earned his undergraduate degree in chemistry and mathematics from Western Washington State University and his doctoral degree in chemistry from Washington University, St. Louis.  He began his faculty career at Washington University School of Medicine, before moving on to the University of Pennsylvania and later UCLA.

Dr. Phelps has received numerous international honors and awards such as the George von Hevesy Foundation Prize in Zurich. He is the recipient of the nation’s two highest scientific honors— an Enrico Fermi Award and an appointment to the National Academy of Science. Dr. Phelps has published nearly 700 peer-reviewed scientific articles, books and book chapters, and his research has been cited in more than 410,000 publications.

In 1973, Dr. Phelps and his colleagues at Washington University created the first PET scanner, which was called a brain camera because it was initially used to image brain function.  In 1976, Dr. Phelps came to UCLA where he and his colleagues and students used PET to study both the biological basis of normal function, as well as numerous disorders of the brain, heart and cancer.  He established the first PET clinic for patient care at UCLA.

Just recently, the cancer center acquired the most advanced diagnostic imaging tool available that combines PET with CT scans simultaneously for a precise,

multi-dimensional view of any existing abnormality.

            Dr. Phelps is one of numerous speakers of national stature to lecture on the WVU campus over the past two decades, thanks to the generosity of the DeLynn family.  For more information about the June 15 lecture, call the Cancer Center at 293-3711.

- WVU -

For more information:
Sherry Stoneking, Cancer Center, (304) 293-4599

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