Steven M. Larson named recipient of SNM's 2005 Georg Charles de Hevesy Nuclear Pioneer Award

06/16/05

Chief of nuclear medicine service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, N.Y., honored for distinguished contributions to nuclear medicine

TORONTO, Canada--Steven M. Larson, M.D., chief of the nuclear medicine service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute, New York, N.Y., was awarded the 2005 Georg Charles de Hevesy Nuclear Pioneer Award for his distinguished contributions to nuclear medicine. The award was presented during the society's 52nd Annual Meeting June 1822 in Toronto.

Larson, one of the world's foremost experts in targeted radiotherapy and molecular imaging, is also a co-leader of SKI's Imaging and Radiation Sciences Bridge Program and Animal Imaging Core Facility. Larson, who is director of radiology research in the department of radiology and director of the PET Center at MSKCC, is also a professor of radiology at Cornell University's Weill Medical College.

"Dr. Larson's research, which spans three decades, has resulted in many novel findings, especially in understanding cancer," said 2004-05 SNM President Mathew L. Thakur, Ph.D. "As an expert on translational aspects of nuclear medicine, this distinguished scientist has made significant contributions to the advancement of positron emission tomography (PET) as a clinical tool for oncology," he noted. "In 1982, Dr. Larson and colleague Jorge Carrasquillo treated cancer patients with malignant melanoma using iodine-131-labeled monoclonal antibodies--an event that has influenced the history of nuclear medicine," explained Thakur. "While conducting cutting-edge research in targeted therapy and related molecular imaging, Dr. Larson continues to be heavily involved in teaching, administration and clinical care. It is fitting that the 2005 Georg Charles de Hevesy Nuclear Pioneer Award be added to Dr. Larson's impressive list of accomplishments and honors," he added.

Larson's clinical interests focus on the use of PET for diagnostic and molecular imaging; he also cares for and manages patients who receive radiotargeted therapy, particularly for thyroid cancer. His research in the detection of colorectal cancer has been successfully applied in the treatment of patients with advanced tumors, and he has successfully tackled the problems of antibody production, radiolabeling, humanization of the antibody, minimizing host immune response and developing methodologies to quantify response. Using carbon-14-labeled media and a sensitive radiodetector system, Larson was able to rapidly identify bacterial and cell growth, a technology that is used widely today for detecting mycobacterium tuberculosis, including assessing drug sensitivities.

He was recruited to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1983, in part to establish a state-of-the-art PET center for NIH researchers. His success in this endeavor led to an NIH Directors Medal in 1987 for him and his colleagues. Larson, who received his medical degree from the University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Wash., and served his residency at Virginia Mason Hospital, Seattle, is the recipient of a number of research grants from the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Army and the National Cancer Institute. He was awarded the Wylie medal of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for his contributions to the development of radiopharmaceutical regulations. Other awards include the Louise and Lionel Berman Foundation Inc. award for accomplishments in the field of nuclear medicine involving the peaceful use of atomic energy, the Ralph G. Robinson Lecture Award of the American College of Nuclear Physicians, the Berson-Yalow Award of SNM, the G.V. Hevesy Lecture-Medal of the European Society of Nuclear Medicine, the Pendergrass Award of the Radiologic Society of North America, the Henry Wagner Award of SNM, the Sabarhai Memorial Lecture/Medal of the Indian Society of Nuclear Medicine, Honorary Fellow of the Brazilian Society of Radiology and the Elis Berven Lecture-Medal of the Swedish Society of Medical Oncology. Larson was also named Radiology Researcher of the Year (2004) of the Radiologic Society of North America (RSNA).

Larson, who is board certified in nuclear medicine and internal medicine, has authored or co-authored 430 manuscripts in major peer-reviewed journals, including Science, Nature Medicine, Nature Biotechnology, Radiology, the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of Nuclear Medicine. He has also served on several governmental advisory committees and study sections at the NIH, the Department of Energy and FDA. He currently serves on the Biologic, Environmental Research Advisory Committee (BERAC) of the Department of Energy and the Advisory Committee of the Department of Life Sciences for Brookhaven National Laboratory.

"I am deeply honored for this awesome recognition and to be identified with the giants in nuclear medicine who have received this award before me," said Larson, who expressed his appreciation to friends, colleagues, collaborators and family members. Professional and personal support came from numerous individuals, said Larson, including Wil B. Nelp, M.D.; Henry N. Wagner Jr., M.D.; Gerald Johnston, M. D.; Hedvig Hricak, M.D.; long-term friend H. William Strauss; Samuel D.J. Yeh; his outstanding team of nuclear medicine attending physicians-- Chatainya Divgi, M.D., Henry Yeung, M.D., Heiko Schoder, M.D., Timothy Akhurst, M.D., Neeta Pandhit, M.D., and Ravinder Grewal, M.D.; collaborators within MSKCC molecular imaging, John Humm, Peter Smith-Jones, Vladimir Ponomorev, Elmer Santos, Ron Finn, Pat Zanzonico and Ron Blasberg; and outstanding fellows and junior faculty who have gone on to establish their own independent programs, Tony Shields, Juri Gelovani, Homer Macapinlac, Andre Levchecko, Andrew Scott and Jorge Carrasquillo. "The current nuclear medicine trainees at MSKCC, both residents and fellows, provide enthusiasm and energy that continuously regenerate a creative clinical and research environment. I have no doubt that one day, some of these fine scientists will make their indelible marks on our field," noted Larson. "I also want to thank my family--Elaine, Nathan and Justine--for their advice, continuous understanding and loving support," said the 2005 de Hevesy recipient.

Each year, SNM presents the Georg Charles de Hevesy Nuclear Medicine Pioneer Award to an individual (or individuals) 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.

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