The history of the use of radioactive tracers in medicine dates from late 19th Century when details on the nature of the atom and knowledge of its emitted radiations first emerged. This added substance to the centuries old speculations dating back to Greece (Democritus) and other ancient philosophers.
Era 1 began in the late 1890s with the discoveries by Roentgen, and Becquerel followed by early biomedical and scientific developments through the 1920s.
Era 2, begins in the early 1930s, and describes the major progress made after the invention of the cyclotron in 1929, and shortly thereafter the discovery of artificially-produced radionuclides. This is the era when tools and knowledge expanded leading to medical testing. It is in this era that the early work began at Vanderbilt, and at other leading institutions in the USA and elsewhere. The Vanderbilt nuclear medicine program started in 1943, when Paul Hahn and George Meneely, two tracer-experienced investigators joined the Vanderbilt faculty from the University of Rochester. Vanderbilt joined the other early leading USA nuclear medicine groups located in California (UCB, UCSF, and UCLA), Rochester, Boston (MGH, MIT/Harvard), Washington University (St. Louis) and New York (Memorial and, Mt. Sinai Hospitals, and Columbia University).
Era 3 starts around 1980, the time in which nuclear medicine became a full partner in the practice of medicine.
This History Nuclear Medicine web page is intended to highlight progress made at different institutions and countries, with a focus of events at Vanderbilt.