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07-28-2007, 05:36 PM
Michael R. Zalutsky, a professor of radiology and biomedical engineering at Duke University in Durham, N.C., received the 2007 Paul C. Aebersold Award for outstanding achievement in basic nuclear medicine science from SNM, the largest international society for molecular imaging and nuclear medicine professionals.

"With this award, the molecular imaging and nuclear medicine community recognizes Dr. Zalutsky's intellectual capital, national reputation and prominent role in advancing significant contributions to medical science - especially in using molecular targeting to combat cancer," said SNM President Martin P. Sandler. "He has made many contributions to both the basic and applied aspects of molecular therapy and nuclear medicine in a variety of areas, including radionuclide production, radiochemistry and radiation biology," added Sandler.

"Only a small group of highly distinguished researchers have received the Aebersold Award for outstanding achievement in basic science applied to nuclear medicine. Dr. Zalutsky's contributions highly qualify to place him in that group of individuals," said Mathew L. Thakur, chair of SNM's Committee on Awards and an Aebersold recipient. Zalutsky received the award, named for Paul C. Aebersold, a pioneer in the biologic and medical application of radioactive materials and the first director of the Atomic Energy Commission's Division of Isotope Development, at the meeting's June opening session. Thakur indicated that Zalutsky's research has had a significant impact on the concepts and methods that drive the field of therapeutic nuclear medicine, showing how technologies and approaches from the domain of nuclear medicine can have an impact on other disciplines.

Among Zalutsky's many accomplishments include his outstanding contributions in developing improved methods for the radiohalogenation of monoclonal antibodies and peptides; in developing protein radiohalogenation methods for labeling monoclonal antibodies and peptides that are rapidly internalized into tumor cells; for advancing the field of clinical radioimmunotherapy by performing a series of studies that defined the feasibility of treating malignant brain tumors with labeled monoclonal antibodies; for contributing to the field of targeted radiotherapeutics, particularly those labeled with the alpha-particle emitter astatine-211; and for making significant advances in other aspects of alpha particle radiotherapy.

"I am honored to receive this prestigious award," said Zalutsky who has served as a professor of radiology since 1990 and professor of biomedical engineering since 1999. "I think it's wonderful that the Society recognizes our type of work, which is primarily in molecular therapy - not diagnosis," said the Pittsfield, Mass., native who is the director of the Radiolabeling Facility Shared Resource and is a member of the cancer immunobiology, neuro-oncology and radiation oncology programs in the Duke University Comprehensive Cancer Center. "The strength of nuclear medicine is that with the right combination of therapeutic radionuclide and targeting molecule, it is possible to fight cancer in a very specific way that ultimately may be able to be fine tuned to the needs of individual patients. Other technologies can't do that," he added. "Targeted radionuclide therapy will expand in the future; it is one of the most promising applications of radioactivity in medicine," he noted.

Zalutsky, an associate professor of pathology since 1998, is the recipient of a MERIT (Method to Extend Research in Time) Award from the National Cancer Institute for his research in targeted radiotherapy. Zalutsky's primary research interests are the development of molecularly targeted radiodiagnostics and radiotherapeutics for oncologic applications. A long-term focus of his laboratory has been on the development of targeted radiopharmaceuticals labeled with the alpha-particle emitting radionuclide astatine-211. This work includes basic radiochemistry, evaluation of therapeutic efficacy, microdosimetry and initiation of the first clinical trial with an astatine-211 labeled, targeted radiotherapeutic. His research has been supported by multiple grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy, as well as by a grant from Genentech.

Zalutsky, who is a member of the board of directors of SNM's Molecular Imaging Center of Excellence, is the director of the Radiolabeling Facility Shared Resource and is a member of the neuro-oncology program in the Duke University Comprehensive Cancer Center. As director of Duke's radiolabeling facility, he consults with individual investigators with regard to the selection of radionuclide, labeling method and reaction conditions that are appropriate for the particular application. Issues that are addressed include maintaining the biological activity of the molecule, radiation safety and cost effectiveness. The radiolabeling facility assists the center's members in the preparation of investigational new drug applications to the Food and Drug Administration to permit clinical investigation of promising novel radiolabeled molecules of potential utility for cancer diagnosis and treatment.

In addition, Zalutsky has been an adjunct associate professor with North Carolina State University's College of Veterinary Medicine in Raleigh, N.C., since 1993; a member of Duke University Medical Center's program in cell and molecular biology since 1994; an associate chief for radiation biology and radioimmunotherapy with Duke's Preuss Laboratory for Brain Tumor Research since 1999; and a faculty member of Duke's medical physics graduate program since 2005.

A nuclear chemist, Zalutsky has worked along side such pioneers as Arnold M. Friedman and Paul V. Harper during his postdoctoral experience at Argonne National Laboratory and while at the University of Chicago. Zalutsky expressed appreciation to colleagues whose expertise "represent the breadth of the field," including Darrel Bigner, a long-standing collaborator who has been "essential to the development of my career not only because of his complementary expertise in immunobiology but also because of his sage advice over the years"; Ganesan Vaidynathan "for his wonderful ability to translate concept into chemical reality"; and Ed Coleman "for creating an environment where I could independently pursue research interests, which at the time, were beyond the traditional domain of nuclear medicine."

Zalutsky received his master's degree and doctorate in nuclear chemistry from Washington University, St. Louis, Mo. Prior to joining the faculty of Duke in 1985, Zalutsky held academic appointments at the University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill. and Harvard Medical School; and hospital appointments at Children's Hospital Medical Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Massachusetts General Hospital, all in Boston, Mass. He has authored or co-authored more than 280 journal articles and reviews and has edited two books. He serves on the editorial board of four journals and has been a member of the medical imaging study section of the National Institutes of Health.

In 2005, he received SNM's Berson-Yalow Award for his work, "Cytotoxicity of Astatine-211-Labeled Trastuzumab in Human Breast Cancer Cell Lines: Effects of Specific Activity and HER2 Receptor Heterogeneity."

SNM's Committee on Awards selects recipients; the first Aebersold Award was given by SNM in 1973.

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About SNM - Advancing Molecular Imaging and Therapy

SNM held its 54th Annual Meeting June 2-6 at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. Session topics for the 2007 meeting included brain amyloid imaging, hybrid imaging, molecular imaging in clinical drug development and evaluation, functional brain imaging in epilepsy and dementia, imaging instrumentation, infection imaging, lymphoma and thyroid cancer, cardiac molecular imaging, general nuclear medicine, critical elements of care in radiopharmacy and more.

SNM is an international scientific and professional organization of more than 16,000 members dedicated to promoting the science, technology and practical applications of molecular and nuclear imaging to diagnose, manage and treat diseases in women, men and children. Founded more than 50 years ago, SNM continues to provide essential resources for health care practitioners and patients; publish the most prominent peer-reviewed journal in the field (the Journal of Nuclear Medicine); host the premier annual meeting for medical imaging; sponsor research grants, fellowships and awards; and train physicians, technologists, scientists, physicists, chemists and radiopharmacists in state-of-the-art imaging procedures and advances. SNM members have introduced - and continue to explore - biological and technological innovations in medicine that noninvasively investigate the molecular basis of diseases, benefiting countless generations of patients. SNM is based in Reston, Va.; additional information can be found online at http://www.snm.org/ (http://www.snm.org/)

Contact: Maryann Verrillo
Society of Nuclear Medicine (http://www.snm.org/)