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Michel M. Ter-Pogossian, Ph.D., an internationally known pioneer in the development of positron emission tomography (PET) for biomedical research, died suddenly of a heart attack on Wednesday, June 19, 1996, in Paris. He was 71.
Ter-Pogossian was emeritus professor of radiology at the School of Medicine's Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology.
A farewell tribute will be held at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, July 18, in Graham Chapel on the Hilltop Campus. Parking is available adjacent to and near Mallinckrodt Center.
A physicist by training, Ter-Pogossian played a major role in developing the concept of short-lived isotopes, the first PET scanner and the first multi-slice PET scanner.
In the early 1970s, he led a collaborative research team of physical scientists, chemists and physicians that developed the concept of PET. A major medical contribution, PET displays actual metabolic activity within different regions of organs and tissues. A PET machine records signals from radioactive tracers inside a patient's body. A computer transforms the signals into colorful, cross-sectional images that reveal biochemical activities of organs and cells. Researchers have used PET to study brain function, cancer, mental illness, heart disease and a host of other medical issues, extending scientists' and physicians' understanding of basic biological processes and providing a basis for the improved diagnosis of diseases.
During a career that spanned more than four decades, Ter-Pogossian earned numerous accolades for his achievements in nuclear science, including France's Gold Medal Award of the Société Francaise de Médecine Nucléaire et de Biophysique; Canada's prestigious Gairdner Award; St. Louis' Peter H. Raven Lifetime Award of the National Academy of Sciences; and the Georg Charles de Hevesy Nuclear Medicine Pioneer Award of the Society of Nuclear Medicine. Ter-Pogossian was a member of many professional societies. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 1987.
Ter-Pogossian received undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Paris and master's and doctoral degrees from Washington University. He joined the faculty of the School of Medicine in 1950 as an instructor in radiation physics and was named professor of radiation physics in 1961, professor of biophysics in physiology in 1964 and professor of radiation sciences in 1973. Ter-Pogossian was director of the Mallinckrodt Institute's Division of Radiation Sciences from 1963 to 1991. He assumed emeritus status in 1995.
He is survived by his wife, Ann; three children, Scott and Rowland Dodson, both of St. Louis, and Ella Dodson of Madison, N.J.; and five grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Michel M. Ter-Pogossian Memorial Fund, Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, 510 S. Kingshighway Blvd., St. Louis, MO, 63110.
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