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UCLA Professor Receives 2010 Benedict Cassen Prize for Research in Nuclear Medicine

Date: 06/07/2010
Contact: Rachel Champeau ()
Phone: 310-794-2270

Sung-Cheng (Henry) Huang, D.Sc., a pioneer in the development of positron emission tomography (PET), was awarded the 2010 Benedict Cassen Prize during the Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM), Inc.'s 57th Annual Meeting held in Salt Lake City, Utah.   

Huang, a professor in the departments of molecular and medical pharmacology and biomathematics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, received the award for his work in instrumentation and quantitative analysis in biomedical imaging. 

The Cassen Prize is given every two years by the Education and Research Foundation for the Society of Nuclear Medicine, Inc., to a living scientist or physician/scientist whose work has led to a major advance in basic or clinical nuclear medicine science.

Sung-Cheng (Henry) Hung, D.Sc. - UCLAHuang, who has been at UCLA since 1976, has constantly advocated biomedical imaging as a rigorous measurement tool and science.  His collaborative work with biologists and physicians to demonstrate the value of quantitative biomedical imaging has led to several important advances in understanding the biological changes associated with many diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease and neurological conditions.

"Dr. Huang has really laid the groundwork for a lot of the science we use today," said Dr. Michael M. Graham, 2009-2010 president of SNM.  "He is a valuable member of the scientific and medical community, and we are honored to recognize him for his many contributions to nuclear medicine."

Huang is currently the director of the Image Analysis Center at the Geffen School of Medicine and has served as the director of the National Institutes of Health-UCLA Systems and Integrative Biology Pre-doctoral Training Program since 1996.  He is also a member of the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Molecular Imaging Program at UCLA.  Many of his research papers are among the most-cited in nuclear medicine.  He also played an important role in the developments of the earliest PET and CT scanners.

"Being chosen for the Cassen Prize is a great honor and fulfilling achievement," Huang said.  "I feel extremely grateful to my colleagues for bestowing this prestigious award upon me."

During a plenary session at SNM's Annual Meeting, Huang gave the Cassen Lectureship on the prospective of quantitative imaging.  The lecture focused on learning more about molecular processes and pathways in cellular function using labeled biomarkers and integrating information for practical applications.  Huang says that as imaging technology becomes more sophisticated, there is a greater need for analytical approaches that can analyze the image data, extract biological information and determine its medical relevance.

"The potential behind quantitative imaging in nuclear medicine is staggering," said Huang.  "I am excited to see what new advances lie beyond the horizon for biomedical imaging to understand diseases and help people like never before."

Huang earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (BSEE) from National Taiwan University in 1966 and did his graduate study at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., where he received a Masters (MSEE) and Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) in electrical engineering and biomedical engineering in 1973.

During his career at UCLA, Huang has served as the principal investigator for 43 research grants, resulting in millions of dollars for the advancement of science and the training of numerous students in the field.  He has published more than 300 research papers in some of the most established journals, more than 580 abstracts and presentations, 24 book chapters, and is the recipient of several patents and software copyrights.  He has also served or is currently serving as deputy chief editor, associate editor or editorial board consultant for major journals in his field such as The Journal of Nuclear Medicine, Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism and Molecular Imaging and Biology.

Under Huang's tutelage, many of his graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are now prominent international scientific leaders or investigators in radiology, nuclear medicine, biomedical physics and biomathematics, and are making key advancements in PET, kinetic modeling, molecular imaging and biomedical engineering education.

Huang has received numerous awards and designations recognizing his outstanding contributions to the field of nuclear medicine, including the Georg von Hevesy Prize from the World Congress of Nuclear Medicine and Biology, the Institute for Scientific Information citation classics, Outstanding Scientist Award from the Chinese American Society of Nuclear Medicine and IEEE Fellow.

"We are pleased to honor a man with such an illustrious and distinguished career in nuclear medicine," said Dr. Peter T. Kirchner, president of the Education and Research Foundation for the Society of Nuclear Medicine, Inc.  "He is a shining example of a leader in the field, and his dedication and innovation have certainly earned him his well-respected reputation."

The Cassen Prize honors Benedict Cassen, whose invention of the rectilinear radioisotope scanner - the first instrument capable of making an image of radiotracer distribution in body organs of living patients - was seminal to the development of clinical nuclear medicine.  Huang is one of 10 individuals who have been presented this prestigious $25,000 award by the Education and Research Foundation for the Society of Nuclear Medicine, Inc. since 1994.

SNM is an international scientific and medical organization dedicated to raising public awareness about what molecular imaging is and how it can help provide patients with the best health care possible.  SNM's 17,000 members specialize in 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.

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