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Peter Ell receives SNM's Georg Charles de Hevesy Nuclear Pioneer Award

Reston, Va.Peter J. Ell, director of the institute of nuclear medicine and chair of nuclear medicine at the University College London, U.K., was awarded the 2008 Georg Charles de Hevesy Nuclear Pioneer Award for his contributions to the nuclear medicine profession. The award was presented during SNM's 55th Annual Meetingthe world's largest society for molecular imaging and nuclear medicine professionals.

"With this award, SNM recognizes Dr. Ell's pioneering efforts in laying the foundations of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging in Europe," said Alexander J. McEwan, who served as president of SNM from 2007-08. "For more than 30 years, he has practiced and taught nuclear medicine and served as editor-in-chief of Europe's premier nuclear medicine journal. He has blazed a trail in nuclear medicine and created the climate for research and development that exists in Europe today."

Ell was also recognized for his efforts in advancing molecular imaging and developing clinical applications of single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), a technique that has become the norm across the world. He pioneered the use of HMPAO, a radiopharmaceutical tracer compound used to detect regional cerebral blood. This tracer can present physicians with a portrait of blood flow in the brain and indicate the existence of heart disease and inflammatory bowel disease. Along with other researchers, Ell initiated the use of immunoglobulin G (human IgG), a type of antibody that circulates in the blood and recognizes foreign particles that might be harmful, as well as iodobenzamide (IBZM), a radiolabeled probe that binds to the cerebral dopamine receptor and is used in neurotransmission studies and SPECT.

"It is an overwhelming delight and honor to receive this most prestigious award," said Ell. "Taking part in SNM annual meetings since 1971 has provided me with a strong sense of purpose, invaluable opportunities for networking and a constant source of inspiration for innovation. A sentiment of excitement is ever present, reinforcing the motivation to maintain and develop momentum in the application of tracer methodology in health and disease. It invigorates my desire to advance knowledge and promote better patient care across the broad spectrum of diseases."

Ell is a founding member of the European Association of Nuclear Medicine (EANM). In addition to serving as its first secretary, he was elected president of EANM in 1994 and served in this capacity for three years. Under his leadership, EANM's executive committee established the European School of Nuclear Medicine. For 13 years, Ell was also editor-in-chief of the European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, transforming it into a major, high-quality publication. He has written articles on and taught in areas as diverse as neurology, hepatology, skeletal pathology, oncology and psychiatry.

A Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Radiology and the Academy of Medical Sciences, Ell received his medical degree in 1969 from the University of Lisbon, Portugal, and doctorate in 1981 from the University of Bern, Switzerland. He is a corresponding member of the Finnish, Swiss and German societies of Nuclear Medicine and, in addition to English, is fluent in French, Portuguese and German. He has been invited to speak at numerous medical conferences around the world, most notably the EANM and WFNMB Highlights Lectures, as well as delivering the SNM Henry N. Wagner Lecture in 2003.

Ell has published more than 600 full-length peer-reviewed manuscripts and more than 600 scientific abstracts in several leading journals. He has authored 26 book chapters, published 12 textbooks on topics related to nuclear medicine and edited another 10 books.

"Developing and applying technologies with practical utility for patient care has always been a major aim of my activity in nuclear medicine," said Ell. "Over the course of my career, I have been privileged to be a part of a number of spectacular events. It was gratifying, for example, to be part of a small team of investigators that developed the first tomographic images of brain blood flow and implemented the easy and effective technologies of sentinel lymph node biopsy and use of PET/CT in oncology."

"The list of previous recipients of this award is impressive and includes numerous Nobel laureatessuch as Ernest Lawrence, who built the world's first cyclotron for the production of radionuclides, and Glenn Seaborg, who discovered more than half a dozen new elements," said McEwan. "Ell joins a select group of scientists whose research is deemed to have had a significant impact on medicine."

Each year, SNM presents the Georg Charles de Hevesy Nuclear Medicine Pioneer Award to an individual for outstanding contributions to the field of nuclear medicine. De Hevesy received the 1943 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work in determining the absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination of radioactive compounds in the human body. His work led to the foundation of nuclear medicine as a tool for diagnosis and therapy and he is considered the father of nuclear medicine. SNM has given the de Hevesy Award every year since 1960 to honor groundbreaking work in the field of nuclear medicine.


Contact: Amy Shaw
Society of Nuclear Medicine

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