Winners of the Charles F. Kettering Prize by the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation


Two Biological and Environmental Research (BER) investigators, David E. Kuhl, M.D., Professor of Radiology, Chief of the Division of Nuclear Medicine, and Director of the PET Center at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI; and Michael E. Phelps, Ph.D., Norton Simon Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular & Medical Pharmacology at the UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA; are among the five world-renowned scientists who have been recognized by the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation (GMCRF) for their seminal contributions to cancer research. Dr. Kuhl and Dr. Phelps are the co-winners of the Charles F. Kettering Prize for their involvement in the development of positron emission tomography (PET). The Kettering Prize recognizes the most outstanding recent contribution to the diagnosis or treatment of cancer. This high honor has been bestowed on a select number of the world’s top scientists, seven of whom have subsequently won Nobel prizes. Dr. Kuhl and Dr. Phelps will receive a gold medal and will share a $250,000 award. The GMCRF Chairman Harry J. Pearce will present the Foundation’s Charles F. Kettering Prize to Drs. Kuhl and Phelps at a ceremony that concludes GMCRF’s Annual Scientific Conference, June 6 (1:30-3:30 PM) at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. The conference, which focuses on “Mechanisms of Metastasis,” will include lectures by Drs. Kuhl and Phelps describing their research. PET produces highly detailed cross-sectional pictures of small cancer deposits (metastases) that have been targeted after a simple intravenous injection of a radioactive glucose tracer, fluorine-18 fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG). In contrast to the more common CT scan, PET detection depends on tumor chemistry, not structure, and allows doctors and scientists to watch the chemistry and biology of the living human body in health and disease, thereby providing critical information that can help with earlier diagnosis and in staging a patient’s cancer so that treatment can be chosen appropriately. Since its inception in 1947, the DOE/BER Medical Sciences program has supported nuclear medicine research including PET technology and radiotracer drug (e.g. FDG) development activities that have permitted insight into brain and heart physiology and pathophysiology previously unimaginable. The program has led to improved PET imaging modalities and to the improved diagnosis and treatment of patients with diverse illnesses such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and coronary artery disease. Both Dr. Phelps and Dr. Kuhl have long-standing BER research support involving PET and medical applications of PET for diagnosis and therapy.