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A*STAR scientist receives international award for innovation in healthcare technology

June 21, 2010

Physicist David William Townsend will be honoured with the prestigious 2010 IEEE Medal for Innovations in Healthcare Technology for the design, commercial development and clinical implementation of the PET/CT scanner. Prof Townsend will receive the medal jointly with his co-inventor, engineer Ronald Nutt, on 26 June 2010 at the IEEE Honors Ceremony in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. IEEE is the world's largest professional association advancing technology for humanity.

Heralded as "Medical Invention of the Year" in 2000 by TIME magazine, the PET/CT scanner revolutionised diagnostic medical imaging by enabling cancer tumours to be detected faster and more accurately, for diagnosis as well as staging and during treatment. The hybrid PET/CT scanner works by ingeniously combining the anatomical information offered by CT imaging with the high contrast of PET tumour imaging in a single examination. This enables the two sets of images to be more precisely registered as there is no changing of the patient's position between the two types of scans. Previously, patients had to take two separate PET and CT examinations, preventing accurate alignment of the images and limiting the quality of disease assessment. Since its commercial introduction in 2001, the PET/CT technology has been widely adopted by the medical profession. Over 95% of all PET scanners sold in 2004 were PET/CT scanners. By 2006, practically all stand-alone PET scanner purchases were replaced by PET/CT scanners.

Prof Townsend is currently head of PET and SPECT development at the Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC) under the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), and a Professor of Radiology at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore. He is leading his team to develop both single photon and positron-emitting radiotracers for pre-clinical imaging of disease.

Highly regarded as the world's leading authority on hybrid imaging systems, Prof Townsend conducted research on imaging systems at hospitals and institutes across the US and Europe for some 30 years before joining A*STAR in 2009. More information on Prof Townsend can be found at the Annex.

Said A*STAR Chairman, Mr Lim Chuan Poh, "The IEEE medal gives due recognition to David's significant achievements and outstanding contributions to biomedical research and healthcare delivery. A*STAR is honoured to have him among our scientists. His multidisciplinary expertise and extensive experience make him a great asset in Singapore's push to develop itself into a translational and clinical research hub."

Added Chairman of SBIC, Prof Sir George Radda, "David has contributed greatly to SBIC's plans to create an integrated platform for multidisciplinary research, and to become a focal point of interaction with the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. His winning of the IEEE medal is a nod to the widespread benefit his invention has brought, as well as an inspiration to our younger scientists. We are proud of him for his achievements."

Said Prof John Wong, Deputy Chief Executive of the National University Health System and Dean of the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, "David is one of the rare people who has changed the practice of medicine in his lifetime. The development of CT-PET scanning has revolutionised the practice of medicine, starting with the management of cancer and drug development. We are honoured to have someone of his stature on our faculty who is testimony to the power of bringing engineers, scientists, and clinicians together to develop better ways to diagnose and manage major diseases."
-end-
For media queries, please contact:

Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
Ms Adela Foo
1 Fusionopolis Way
#20-10 Connexis North
Singapore 138632
Singapore
DID: +65 6826 6218
Email: adela_foo@a-star.edu.sg

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Francine Tardo
+1 732 465 5865
f.tardo@ieee.org

About the Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC)

The Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC) is a research consortium of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore. SBIC aims to build a coordinated national programme for imaging research, bringing together substantial strengths in the physical sciences and engineering and those in the biomedical sciences. It seeks to identify and consolidate the various bioimaging capabilities across local research institutes, universities and hospitals, in order to speed the development of biomedical research discoveries. SBIC has built up an extensive network of partners, through collaborations and joint appointments with research institutes, university and clinical departments, and the industry. Its partners include the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, the NUS Chemistry Department, the National Cancer Centre, Duke-NUS, Bruker, GlaxoSmithKline, Takeda, and Schering Plough.

For more information about SBIC, please visit www.sbic.a-star.edu.sg.

About the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)

A*STAR is the lead agency for fostering world-class scientific research and talent for a vibrant knowledge-based and innovation-driven Singapore. A*STAR oversees 14 biomedical sciences, and physical sciences and engineering research institutes, and seven consortia & centres, which are located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis, as well as their immediate vicinity.

A*STAR supports Singapore's key economic clusters by providing intellectual, human and industrial capital to its partners in industry. It also supports extramural research in the universities, hospitals, research centres, and with other local and international partners.

For more information on A*STAR, please visit www.a-star.edu.sg.

About the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)

IEEE, the world's largest technical professional association, is dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. Through its highly cited publications, conferences, technology standards, and professional and educational activities, IEEE is the trusted voice on a wide variety of areas ranging from aerospace systems, computers and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power and consumer electronics. Learn more at http://www.ieee.org.

Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore

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