SNM names Sanjiv Sam Gambhir as recipient of 2006 Paul C. Aebersold Award

Honor goes to well-known Stanford University scientist for contributing extensively to molecular imaging, basic science of using radioactive tracers

SAN DIEGO, Calif.--Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, a professor of radiology and bioengineering, director of the Molecular Imaging Program and head of the nuclear medicine division at Stanford University, received SNM's 2006 Paul C. Aebersold Award for outstanding achievement in basic nuclear medicine science during the society's 53rd Annual Meeting in San Diego.

"I feel very honored to be selected for such an important award," said Gambhir, who previously held the position as the director of Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging at the University of California, Los Angeles. "SNM has been my home ever since I was a student entering the field in 1986. It is truly a privilege to continue to learn from others in the field and to advance imaging techniques for improved management of disease," he added. "Molecular imaging is truly in its infancy, and I am confident that nuclear medicine is going to undergo some marked growth but will benefit from embracing non-radionuclide strategies in molecular imaging as well," said the vice president of SNM's Molecular Imaging Center of Excellence.

Gambhir, who is known to move easily and quickly across physical, biological and medical discipline boundaries, has an impressive list of accomplishments. Much of his lab's research involves looking at which molecules could be targeted to image a number of processes, with a particular focus on cancer and cardiovascular disease.

As a researcher, he uses technologies such as micro positron emission tomography, bioluminescence optical imaging with a charge coupled-device camera, fluorescence optical imaging and micro computerized axial tomography for investigation with small animal models. He and his laboratory researchers have developed methods to image gene/cell therapy in living subjects, and he has developed several small animal–imaging strategies for studying basic cell/molecular biological events including signal transduction, gene expression and cell trafficking.

Gambhir, an associate editor for the Journal of Nuclear Medicine, has extensive experience with FDG PET and has developed many of the related management algorithms for cancer patients, including cost-effectiveness models. His decision models were used by the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services in understanding the role of FDG PET in various applications and directly helped in getting reimbursement for PET. He lead the effort in tabulating and analyzing the world's literature on PET in 17 different cancers, cardiovascular disease, epilepsy and Alzheimer's that laid the evidence-based foundation for CMS coverage and was published as a special issue of JNM.

In addition, he has developed and validated both enzyme and receptor-based PET reporter gene-reporter probe assays and produced a novel way to use molecular imaging to examine "and" and "or" gate logic of protein-protein interactions in the living mouse. His studies have produced the first proof of principle that signals from protein-protein interactions that regulate cellular communication systems can be imaged in vivo.

Gambhir, who delivered SNM's 2005 Wagner Lectureship, received his bachelor's degree in physics from Arizona State University in Tempe and trained at UCLA in the Medical Scientist Training Program, where he obtained both his medical degree and his doctorate in biomathematics. He did his medicine and nuclear medicine residency training at UCLA and was a professor of molecular pharmacology, vice chair of molecular pharmacology and director of the Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging before moving to Stanford University in late 2003.

The Taplin award recipient, who delivered the 2000 Frontiers of Science Lecture for the National Academy of Sciences, currently oversees the activities of more than 22 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in his own lab and more than 75 scientists in the Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford. As a principal investigator, he has received NIH funded support for "Imaging Reporter Gene Expression," "Second Generation of Gene Therapy Vectors for Imaging Gene Expression," "Molecular Imaging of Stem Cell Survival, Apoptosis and Differentiation in Myocardium," "Correlative Imaging of Tumor Angiogenesis" and "Molecular Imaging of Cancer With a Voltage Sensor." He is also the principal investigator for the In Vivo Cellular and Molecular Imaging Centers (ICMIC) P50 and Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence (CCNE) U54, both from the National Cancer Institute.

He has received the Hounsfield Medal (2006), Imperial College, London; the Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (2004); the Academy of Molecular Imaging Basic Scientist Award (2004); the Society of Molecular Imaging Achievement Award (2004); the Holst Medal (2003); and the Taplin Award (2002). His work has been featured on the covers of numerous journals including JNM, Circulation, Journal of Urology, Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, Nuclear Medicine and Biology, Cancer Cell, FASEB, Gastroentorology and Science.

The Aebersold recipient--who with his students built a game-based learning system called "Let's Play PET," which explores all aspects of PET from the principles of cyclotron operation to the clinical application of PET in cardiology, neurology and oncology--has presented several named lectures and numerous invited lectures. He has published 190 original articles in peer-reviewed journals. The National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy fund his research work, and he is one of 35 members of the National Cancer Institute Scientific Advisory Board--and the only nuclear medicine physician/scientist on that board. He serves as an adviser to GE Healthcare, Varian Medical, Genentech, Glaxo Smith Kline, Millennium, Visualsonics and several other companies.

Gambhir expressed his appreciation to a number of individuals for their support over the years including "all my colleagues at UCLA and Stanford, my parents, and my wife Aruna, son Milan and in particular my mentors at UCLA, M.E. Phelps, H. Herschman, J. Barrio, H.R. Schelbert and S.C. Huang." He said, "In addition, I want to thank other colleagues who work in the gene imaging field including Juri Gelovani, Ron Blasberg, Uwe Haberkorn, David Piwnica-Worms, June-Key Chung and many others."

The Aebersold Award is named for Paul C. Aebersold, a pioneer in the biologic and medical application of radioactive materials and the first director of the Atomic Energy Commission's Division of Isotope Development at Oak Ridge, Tenn. SNM's Committee on Awards selects recipients; the first Aebersold Award was given by SNM in 1973.


About SNM SNM is holding its 53rd Annual Meeting June 3–7 at the San Diego Convention Center. Research topics for the 2006 meeting include molecular imaging in clinical practice in the fight against cancer; the role of diagnostic imaging in the management of metastatic bone disease; metabolic imaging for heart disease; neuroendocrine and brain imaging; new agents for imaging infection and inflammation; and an examination of dementia, neurodegeneration, movement disorders and thyroid cancer.

SNM is an international scientific and professional organization of more than 16,000 members dedicated to promoting the science, technology and practical applications of molecular and nuclear imaging to diagnose, manage and treat diseases in women, men and children. Founded more than 50 years ago, SNM continues to provide essential resources for health care practitioners and patients; publish the most prominent peer-reviewed journal in the field; host the premier annual meeting for medical imaging; sponsor research grants, fellowships and awards; and train physicians, technologists, scientists, physicists, chemists and radiopharmacists in state-of-the-art imaging procedures and advances. SNM members have introduced--and continue to explore--biological and technological innovations in medicine that noninvasively investigate the molecular basis of diseases, benefiting countless generations of patients. SNM is based in Reston, Va.; additional information can be found online at

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
    Published on All rights reserved.