Walter Wolf, PhD, distinguished professor of pharmaceutical sciences and chair of the Biomedical Imaging Science Initiative at the University of Southern California—and a pioneer in the field of radiopharmacy—was awarded the 2006 Georg Charles de Hevesy Nuclear Pioneer Award for his contributions to the nuclear medicine profession. The award was presented during SNMMI’s 53rd Annual Meeting June 3– 7 in San Diego.
“For nearly 50 years, Walter Wolf has continued to make major breakthroughs in the study of human biology and disease,” said SNMMI President Peter S. Conti, MD, PhD, professor of radiology, pharmacy, and bioengineering at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. “He realized the need for pharmacists to specialize in the field of radioactive drug products when he joined USC in the late 1950s, establishing USC’s radiopharmacy program in the 1960s and running it for nearly 20 years. Through his unparalleled talents and dedication, Dr. Wolf played an instrumental role in advancing the profession,” added Conti.
“It is an honor to receive the Georg Charles de Hevesy Nuclear Pioneer Award,” said Wolf, a distinguished professor of pharmaceutical sciences at USC since 1998. He explained that while it’s wonderful to get recognition for past research, “I am much more excited about the work I’ve yet to do.” The 1999 Paul C. Aebersold Award recipient continues to be active in the field and to expand his research activities into new dimensions of molecular imaging.
Wolf founded the USC Pharmacokinetic Imaging Program and has been its director since 1996. A full professor in the School of Pharmacy since 1970 and distinguished professor since 1998, Wolf served as director of its radiopharmacy program from 1969–98. Over the years, Wolf’s research has focused on pharmacokinetic imaging, a novel approach that allows noninvasive studies of drug biodistribution, targeting, and metabolism using both nuclear medicine imaging (including positron emission tomography) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy techniques. These studies measure the target pharmacokinetics of antitumor agents. Wolf’s interests also include studies on the synthesis and mechanism of action of radiopharmaceuticals.
The senior consultant in radiopharmacy and pharmacology for the LAC/USC Medical Center since 1987, Wolf also served as director of radiopharmacy services there (1971–87); visiting assistant professor (1962–63), assistant professor (1963–65) and associate professor (1965–70), all with the USC School of Pharmacy; research associate with the USC chemistry department (1959–62); research associate with Amherst College, Amherst, MA (1958– 59); research associate, McGill University, Montreal, Canada (1957–58); associate professor of organic chemistry, University of Concepción, Chile (1956–58); Stagiaire and Attaché de Recherches, CNRS, Paris, France (1955–56); visiting professor, Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1973, 1976 and 1983); and visiting professor, Oak Ridge Associated Universities (1967–82).
A former president of the Education and Research Foundation for SNMMI, he received a bachelor’s degree in the natural sciences (1948) and a master’s degree in organic chemistry (1952), both from the University of the Republic in Montevideo, Uruguay. He earned his doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Paris in France in 1956.
Wolf, a former chair of SNMMI’s Correlative Imaging Council, is a foreign corresponding member of Académie Nation ale de Pharmacie, Paris, France, and a fellow of both the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. He received the Genia Czerniak Prize in Nuclear Medicine (Israel, 1979 and 1986); the Amersham Prize for Best Radiopharmaceutical Paper, iVTH; World Federation of Nuclear Medicine, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1986; Merit Award, University of Judaism, 1975 and 1978; and the Pioneer Award in Nuclear Pharmacy, American Pharmaceutical Association, 1996 and 2000.
Each year, SNMMI 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. SNMMI has given the de Hevesy Award every year since 1960 to honor groundbreaking work in the field of nuclear medicine.
Past Recipients of the CIC Walter Wolf Award