Richard L. Wahl, MD, has been named the Elizabeth E. Mallinckrodt Professor and head of radiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He also will serve as director of the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology.
The appointment, which will begin in October, was announced by Larry J. Shapiro, MD, executive vice chancellor and dean of the School of Medicine.
“Richard is a 1978 graduate and former resident and fellow of the School of Medicine who has gone on to do groundbreaking work in developing specially targeted radiopharmaceuticals for diagnosing and treating cancer,” Shapiro said. “He is a leader in the field, and we are very pleased to welcome him back as the department’s new director.”
Wahl succeeds R. Gilbert Jost, MD, who was head of Mallinckrodt for 15 years. Jost’s many accomplishments included the creation of the Center for Clinical Imaging Research, one of the first hospital-based facilities dedicated to providing state-of-the-art imaging technology to researchers in a patient-care environment. Jost will continue to be active in research.
Wahl comes to the university from Johns Hopkins University, where he is the Henry N. Wagner Jr., MD, Professor and director of the Division of Nuclear Medicine.
“Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology has made many very important and influential contributions to the use of radiopharmaceuticals and cross-sectional imaging in modern medicine,” Wahl said. “I’m eager to return to St. Louis to help the faculty and staff continue to provide top-notch clinical care and education and to expand the frontiers of research.”
Wahl was among the first to combine radiation therapy for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma with techniques that use the immune system to precisely target treatments. The combined approach, now FDA-approved, is known as radioimmunotherapy.
He has been a leader in using positron emission tomography (PET) to diagnose a broad array of human cancers and other diseases. He also is at the forefront of more recent efforts to combine quantitative data from PET scans with computerized tomography (CT) to form “fusion” images that can help physicians more precisely diagnose and characterize cancers. He and his research group have received research support from the NIH and other agencies for nearly three decades.
After graduating from Washington University School of Medicine and serving his residency there, Wahl interned at the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine. He returned to Washington University in 1979 for training in diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine. He accepted his first faculty appointment at the University of Michigan in 1983.
At Johns Hopkins, he also is vice chair for technology and new business development in the Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences, and a professor of oncology.
A fellow in the American College of Radiology, Wahl holds 18 radiology patents and has published more than 400 peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts. He is the primary author of several textbooks, including “Principles and Practice of PET and PET/CT.” He also is a member of multiple professional societies and plays a leadership role in Radiological Society of North America Quantitative Imaging Biomarker Alliance Projects designed to standardize imaging approaches.
His awards include a U.S. Department of Energy Achievement Award; the Tetalman, Berson and Yalow and two Alavi-Mandel awards from the Society for Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging; and the Academy of Molecular Imaging’s Distinguished Scientist Award. He also was named the “Most Influential Radiology Researcher” in 2005 by AuntMinnie.com, a leading website for medical imaging professionals.
He has given many named lectureships throughout the world, including the Prendergas New Horizons Lecture at the Radiological Society of North America annual meeting and the Marie Curie Lecture at the European Association of Nuclear Medicine.
Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient-care institutions in the nation, currently ranked sixth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.