Richard L. Wahl, MD, the Elizabeth E. Mallinckrodt Professor and head of radiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine, formerly known as the Institute of Medicine. Election to this academy is considered one of the highest honors in the field of health and medicine in the United States.
Wahl is among 70 new members and 10 international associates whose elections were announced Monday, Oct. 19. Members are selected based on their professional achievements and commitment to service.
The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) has taken over many of the roles previously performed by the Institute of Medicine and joins the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering as respected advisers on matters of science, technology and health. The role of the Institute of Medicine has been redefined to focus on consensus study and convening activities.
Wahl, who also serves as director of the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, was among the first to combine internally delivered radiation therapy for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma with techniques that use the immune system and nuclear medicine imaging to inform and precisely target treatments. The combined approach, now FDA-approved, is known as radioimmunotherapy and is recognized as one of the first “precision medicine” approaches for human cancer treatment.
He has been a leader in introducing and using positron emission tomography (PET) to diagnose a broad array of 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) and MRI 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 National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other agencies for the past three decades.
A fellow in the American College of Radiology and of the American College of Nuclear Physicians, 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.
Wahl’s 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; the Academy of Radiology Research Distinguished Investigator Award; and the Academy of Molecular Imaging’s Distinguished Scientist Award.
He joined the Washington University faculty in October 2014 after serving as the Henry N. Wagner Jr., MD, Professor, director of the Division of Nuclear Medicine and vice chairman of radiology at Johns Hopkins University for 14 years.
Wahl graduated from Washington University School of Medicine. He interned at the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine and returned to Washington University and the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology in 1979 for training in diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine before accepting his first faculty appointment, at the University of Michigan in 1983.