Engineering School

Much of the instrumentation developed in Nuclear Medicine was accomplished in collaboration with faculty and students from the School of Engineering. Bill Baker came to Vanderbilt in 1964 with a PhD from Case Institute of Technology and served as the first Director of the Bioengineering program. The program was a Division of the Mechanical Engineering Department. He supervised many of the graduate students who worked with nuclear medicine colleagues (staff and students) to transform the wholr body counter (WBC) into a scanning low level counting and imaging device. Paul King and Charles Kramer worked on the mechanical design of the new system geometry. Bailey Moore, who ran the Mechanical shop for the Medical School was responsible for execution, and fabrication of the mechanical components. The electronic controls of the different motions were designed by Elbert Cook based on a digital logic patch panel for data acquisition and he got his PhD under Eugene Denman in the Electrical Engineering Department. Ensign Johnson worked with Cliff McKee on early studies of Fe-59 metabolism. Bob Nash in Electrical Engineering later worked on systems analysis and statistical decision theory applied to optimization of the use of nuclear imaging decision systems. Horace Williams conducted analyses of the cost benefit tradeoffs involved in radiation practices where high doses are administered in therapy, a situation is which competing health benefits and risks need to be balanced. Paul King moved from student to the BME faculty in 1968 and directed the research of a number of graduate students, and took an active part in the design and patenting of novel 3D imaging systems. David Pickens got his MS and PhD based on the design and construction of a novel 3D imaging system that anticipated the commercial development of a similar system while working under Paul King’s supervision. Paul had many good ideas, including the design of adjustable focus collimators, but no practical device emerged at that time. Now variably spaced slit/slat “pin hole like” combined apertures accomplish such effects in adaptive imaging strategies as later developed by Barrett and the Tucson imaging research center. Tom Harris, a Chemical Engineer with many years experience worked with Elliott Newman Head of the Hospital Clinical Research Center, and experimental research in the Department of Medicine. Glen Clantom and Tom gave tutorials on tracer kinetic modeling applied to ongoing cardio vascular research projects directed by Newman. With Elliott’s encouragement, Tom went on to get his MD, and on completion took charge of the BME program in 1972, since which time the program grew into one of national prominence. The tradition continues, as Todd Giorgio, also a Cehmical Engineer, took on the Directors role when Tom retired in 2010. The program is multifaceteed, and in addition to traditional BME programs, has strong robotic programs, and nanoparticle efforts of great revevance to nucler medicine activities.

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