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SNMMI Press Releases

June 9, 2013

Dean F. Wong, MD, PhD, Receives SNMMI 2013 Paul C. Aebersold Award for Outstanding Achievement in Basic Nuclear Medicine Science

Johns Hopkins University professor honored for his work in brain imaging

Vancouver, British Columbia — Dean F. Wong, MD, PhD, professor and vice chair of Radiology, and  professor of Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Environmental Health Sciences, and Carey School of Business at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in Baltimore, Md., has been named this year’s recipient of the prestigious Paul C. Aebersold Award. Wong was presented the award by the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) during its 2013 Annual Meeting, June 8-12 in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Wong received the award, 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 the plenary session. The award, selected by the SNMMI Awards Committee, recognizes outstanding achievement in basic science applied to nuclear medicine and was first presented in 1973.

“Dr. Wong is a well-known and respected researcher on a wide variety of neuropsychiatric illnesses, basic brain chemistry and pharmacology,” said George Segall, MD, chair of the SNMMI Awards Committee and past president of the society. “Over his career, he has been awarded more than 70 grants and has produced prolific amounts of research on the design, development, quantification and application of radiopharmaceuticals imaged with positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) for the study of in vivo brain chemistry.”

With more than 30 years of experience with brain PET imaging, Wong’s research includes many firsts. As part of his PhD thesis, he provided the preclinical work  and medical oversight and data analysis of the first dopamine D2 PET receptor imaging in human beings, and as PI of the team carrying out the first aging study of D2 receptors, the first study suggesting elevations of Ddopamine receptors in schizophrenia, one of the first human PET radioligands routinely used  for the dopamine transporter, and one of two studies to first documentcocaine craving measured by intrasynaptic dopamine release.

Further, he and his lab at JHU collaborated with Avid Radiopharmaceuticals on the first FDA F-18 amyloid radiopharmaceutical (AV-45) imaging in human beings performed at JHU. He and collaborators have recently developed new human PET and single photon emission computed tomography radiotracers, most recently for novel alpha 4 beta 2 nAch, mGluR5, GlyT1 and cannabinoid CB1 receptors.

“The field has dramatically expanded to be a highly valued scientific approach for basic investigations of brain physiology, as well as translational studies in neuropsychiatry and early CNS drug discovery and development,” said Wong. “The interdisciplinary approach to the basic sciences of nuclear medicine is especially needed for scientific advances in understanding brain neuroreceptors.”

Wong received his medical degree from the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine in 1977, his nuclear medicine residency at JHU and American Board of Nuclear Medicine certification in 1982,and his doctorate in radiation health sciences from JHU in 1990. He holds academic appointments at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and continues to serve in various roles with the National Institutes of Health including the Center for Scientific Review Neural Basis of Psychopathology, Addictions and Sleep Disorders Study Section.
 
In addition to his membership in SNMMI, Wong is a member of multiple professional societies and has held several leadership roles in the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) and the Academy of Molecular Imaging  (AMI). He has authored or coauthored over 200 peer-reviewed journal articles and has contributed to more than 275 books, book chapters, monographs and symposia. He is/has been a member of five journal editorial boards and serves as an ad-hoc reviewer for 15 additional journals.

Wong has received numerous awards and honors throughout his career, including the SNMMI Kuhl-Lassen Award, the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia & Depression Established Investigator Award and the NIH-National Institute on Drug Abuse K24 Midcareer Award (2000-2010). He is a fellow of the ACNP and an honorary science and technology fellow of the Advanced Science and Technology Adjudication Resource Center. 

“On this occasion of the 30th anniversary of the first PET human imaging of dopamine D2/D3 receptors, it is a tremendous honor to accept this award, which I consider also gives recognition to all the preclinical and translational investigators working to image and quantify neurotransmitter systems in vivo with molecular approaches as PET and SPECT,” noted Wong. “For my own work, it is most humbling to participate in a global field begun in part by icons in neuropharmacology and neuroscience such as Solomon Snyder, MD, DSc, DPhil, and Michael Kuhar, PhD and neurophysiologists as Albert Gjedde, MD, DSc.  Partnering with nuclear medicine pioneers like my mentor and friend, the late Henry Wagner, Jr., MD, to whom we pay tribute in memorial this year, has been an outstanding privilege and helped me shape my three decades of research focused on brain neuroreceptor imaging.”

He continued, “I am thankful to be a member of a specialty that has enabled molecular and nuclear medicine brain imaging and positioned our discipline to help lead research highly responsive to the recent Brain Initiative proposed by the White House. Indeed, neurochemical mechanisms are at the heart of any understanding of brain connectivity and networking.”

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About the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging

The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) is an international scientific and medical organization dedicated to raising public awareness about nuclear medicine and molecular imaging, a vital element of today’s medical practice that adds an additional dimension to diagnosis, changing the way common and devastating diseases are understood and treated and helping provide patients with the best health care possible.

SNMMI’s more than 19,000 members set the standard for molecular imaging and nuclear medicine practice by creating guidelines, sharing information through journals and meetings and leading advocacy on key issues that affect molecular imaging and therapy research and practice. For more information, visit www.snmmi.org.