Path B: Vanderbilt’s Faculty, Graduate Students and Advisors

→ Clinical Faculty: in 1964 included Bob Heyssel, Cliff McKee, and Randy Brill. Cliff McKee was a Board certified Hematologist who worked with Heyssel since returning from 2 years in the Navy, in 1961. In 1967 Ed Staab came to Vanderbilt after 2 years in the Army at Ft. Detrick, with an appointment in Radiology. Ed was a radiologist with experience in nuclear medicine gained working with Merle Loken in Minnesota during his residency . Ed was recruited by Gene Klattee to add clinical strength to the program. Three years later, Dennis Patton joined the Faculty after finishing his residency in Radiology at the University of Calif, Irvine. He had previously studied physics at UC, Berkeley under Joe Hamilton, a pioneer in radiation medicine. Dennis and Ed served on rotation as clinical directors at Vanderbilt and the VA Hospital. Barry Groves, Mark Born and Juan Touya joined the clinical faculty in the 1970s. Marvin Kronenberg, joined in the interpretation of nuclear cardiology studies, and provided a clinical  interface with the Cardiology Dept. Clyde Smith was the Radiologist who provided a working bridge to Cardiac Cath lab activities. 1n 1978 David Rollo joined the nuclear medicine program as the Division Director when Randy went on sabatical leave for a year. When Rollo left in 1982, Leon Partain followed him, later moving to Chair the Radiology Department when Everette James retired. Details about the Radiology Department are given on the Radiology Home page. Details on the later program developments are given in ERA 3.

Research Faculty: Bob Heyssel, Randy Brill, Cliff McKee and Ruth Hagstrom were the initial physician/scientists. Hagstrom was a physician/epidemiologist who directed the follow-up of the Hahn study patients (NIH-funded  Fe-59 follow up study). Cliff McKee led in the conduct of many of the iron metabolism studies. As the number of physics students with projects in nuclear medicine grew, the Physics Department allowed us to recruit a new faculty member to assist in program coordination and student supervision. Bob Baglan joined faculty working in Nuclear Medicine and Physics in 1970 from the University of California/Livermore (LLNL) . He came with a PhD in Nuclear Chemistry from UC, Berkeley, with strong recommendations from Ed Teller, Director at Livermore. Everette James came from Hopkins in 1975 as Chair of Radiology with an early interest in nuclear medicine, particularly in radionuclide cysternography (a means of detecting impaired CSF flow as a cause of senile dementia). His major interest was to acquire MRI systems, and to investigate new MR-based applications along with a continuing interest in X-ray studies of Zoo animals. His animal research included probing “how ducks breath”, studies done by Ron Price. As the graduate students advanced they rapidly became significant contributors to the overall research program, many with faculty appointments.

Gene Johnston was our first Physics graduate student since Meneely’s departure. Gene shortly thereafter recruited Ron Price  who had finished with a PhD in High Energy Physics in 1967.

Gene started the Technology training program in 1968 that has continued without lapse ever thereafter  under changing  leadership. Gene gave the technology lectures, and the different physicians in the group gave the clinical lectures.  gene-j-anecdote-2. By 1972, many of the Physics and Engineering students were well on their way to finishing their degrees.  While in transition to faculty roles, they shared in the guidance of new graduate students. The physics and engineering students and their faculty mentors helped develop the computing and imaging research infrastructure that was used by all. Baglan guided many of the Physics MS candidates. He coordinated and directed the work on an environmental heavy metal NSF project investigating their potential effect on the newborn. He left about 3 years to enter Medical School at Washington University, St. Louis ultimately becoming a practicing radiation oncologist. Jerome Wagner succeeded Baglan in the Physics Department position. Jerry came  as a Ph.D. graduate of John Cameron’s  University of Wisconsin Medical Physics program. Jerry stayed from 1973-74 during which years he taught a Physics course, and guided several student theses. He left when the “Medical Physics position” was discontinued, and lay vacant  for two years during while the Physics Department created a new Biophysics position. John Wikswo was hired after Charlie Roos and Randy interviewed him at Stanford University where he was investigating different potential biomedical applications of neuro magnetic imaging, i.e. imaging the magnetic field generated by nerve signals from the heart and isolated nerve cells. John was hired and has since gone on to build a first rate “Living State Physics” program.

Brill’s appointment in Physics involved his teaching a Radiation Biophysics course required by all the Health Physics (HP) students. This brought nuclear medicine research opportunities to the attention of students while they were choosing their research topic. Over the next 15 years, more than 20 graduate students from Physics and the School of Engineering chose to do their thesis research involving nuclear medicine-related topics. The students were all very talented, and many of the Physics students received financial support from advanced Health Physics Fellowships, advanced awards reflecting prior real world work experience. (It should be noted that Meneely had developed strong research collaborations with Engineering and Physics faculty and graduate students which made it easy to build on these good relationships ).

Eugene Johnston was the first graduate student to join our program. His project was to improve the quantitative accuracy of imaging data in support of increasing needs for accurate patient dose calculations. His PhD thesis, 1968 was entitled: Physical Problems Inherent in Quantitative In-Vivo Dosimetry of Radiopharmaceuticals.

Graduate degrees were awarded by the Physics Department, and one of the Engineering School Departments, after students finished their course work and passed the regular exams. There were no academic short cuts,  the additional medical physics engineering skills  gained during the conduct of their thesis research projecs. After selecting a research topic, a proposal was presented to a faculty Committee, typically consisting of 4-members from different Departments. Randy had primary or secondary responsibility to guide the thesis depending on the topic. For the HP-supported students, tuition and salary support came from the AEC and Vanderbilt was among the three largest HP training Programs (Berkeley, and Rochester being the other two ).

Ron Price joined the group after he finished his PhD in high-energy physics, having been one of the AEC HP fellows. He joined the group with funding from a Veterans Administration (VA) grant awarded to Gene Johnston for 59Fe studies.

Jim Watts  was our second Advanced Health Physics Fellow. He and Gene followed parallel paths, with Jim focused on quantitating data from the scanning Whole Body Counter. His PhD thesis was entitled: Methods for Quantitative Assay of Radioactivity in Man.

Elbert Cook joined the group as an Electrical Engineer and his 1968 PhD thesis was entitled A Digital Data Acquisition System for Use in Nuclear Medicine Scanning and Whole-Body Counting. This versatile system provided the infrastructure that allowed the connection of all our imaging and counting devices to computers and output devices. It was duplicated and used in the School of Engineering digital logic laboratory course.

Jim Patton  joined the group during his HP fellowship. His PhD thesis in 1972 was entitled, New Approaches to the Imaging of Distributions of Stable and Radioactive Tracers Within the Body. In his work, he developed several new multi detector means of accomplishing transverse and longitudinal tomography with arrays of NaI, and solid-state detectors.

Jon Erickson joined the group with an HP fellowship. His PhD thesis in 1972 was entitled: Applications of Computers and Digital Techniques in Clinical and Investigative Nuclear Medicine. Jon did many important studies including one of the first digital ultrasound studies. Jon contributed much to the development and use of computers in many of the Division’s projects.

Jud Parker joined the group while taking a degree in Divinity with a minor in Computer Science. Jud had worked at RCA Lancaster developing the PDP9  software that supported PMT fabrication and testing. He mad major contributions to our computer efforts.

David Pickens finished his PhD in Biomedical Engineering under Paul King, a long time collaborator, with whom he developed a novel tomography system for brain imaging, the Orthoscanner.

Ron Price  made important contributions to most if not all of the group projects and played a major role sharing in the direction of research through 1980. After Rollo’s departure, he became the Director of the Division of Radiological Science in Radiology.

Norm Dyer joined the group as an Advanced Health Physics fellow. He did a number of important and novel studies using neutron activation analysis to assess maternal fetal transfer of different essential elements and cells without the need for radioisotope exposures. His work also provided organ dose estimates needed for the Hahn epidemiology late effect correlation analyses. His PhD Physics in 1972 was entitled Human Fetal Radiation Dose from Fe- 59 Administered to the Mother During Pregnancy.

Jeff Clanton was a trained radiopharmacist when he came to us from Walter Wolf’s  USC program. He provided the support needed for  our radiopharmacy clinical and research studies.

Jerry Jones finished his PhD in Physics in 1976. His PhD. Thesis was entitled: In-Vivo Evaluation of Standard Man Model Absorbed Fractions Using Tc-99mSC. The project used thermoluminescent detectors (TLDs) to assess and confirm the validity of the reciprocity principle,  a concept used  in the standard man/MIRD dose estimates made by the ORNL research group led by Walter Snyder. In addition, he critically evaluated the range of validity of the Sorenson Conjugate imaging method. He assisted in the image registration and analysis of Jones Lung anecdote, and in programming the scanning whole body counter. steel room anecdote for an associated anecdote.

Kent Larsen finished his PhD in Physics in 1978. It was entitled: Measurement of Regional and Total Body Bone Mineral Content In-Vivo Using Transmission Scanning and Neutron Activation Analysis.

Click here for a full list of graduate students

There were no new graduate/post graduate students in Radiology after 1979 until 2003 when Ron Price, Director of the Radiological Sciences Division received a NIH post doctoral grant to increase the skills in Cancer Imaging of scientists working in allied fields. This grant rebooted basic and research activities in Radiology. About that time, Vanderbilt attracted John Gore and his group of talented MRI-oriented colleagues (Physicists and Engineers) from Yale to Vanderbilt. A Vanderbilt Institute of Imaging Sciences  (VUIIS) was formed in 2003 with University status, with faculty appointments in Radiology, Physics, and Biomedical Engineering with collaborators from many Departments. Additional details are given in Era 3.

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