1999 ICP Distinguished Scientist Award. The history of positron emission tomography

Mol Imaging Biol. 2002 Jan;4(1):11-26. doi: 10.1016/s1095-0397(00)00051-0.


The history of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is rich in technological achievements and advancements. The advancements that have benchmarked PET progress are the result of key components that include human intellect and passion for PET technology, relentless persuasion of key political forces to eliminate the barriers precluding PET usage, tireless efforts to raise awareness about PET and a crucial network of support throughout the PET community. This article sets forth a timeline of significant events that have contributed to the development of PET as it is known today. It introduces the earliest physicist and physician, for instance, who were responsible for the first medical applications for positron emitting radioisotopes using a simple brain probe that utilized coincidence to localize brain tumors. Additionally, it identifies landmark technological achievements that have helped pave the way to modern PET. This study includes historical accounts surrounding the use of the first human PET tomograph, discovery of the Bismuth Germanate (BGO) scintillator, development of the Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET method, the design of the first PET medical cyclotron with automated chemistry and operated by a PC and a technologist, Food and Drug Administration's approval of FDG, HCFA reimbursement, and the capacity of Lutetium Oxyorthosilicate (LSO) to produce a revolutionary advance in PET scanners. The main thrust of this article is to recognize via a timeline of PET accomplishments the noteworthy work of scientists, physicians and others who have been key players in various aspects of the continuous activity to move PET technology forward from invention to research, and to become a major clinical imaging modality.