Let’s talk about PET

I don’t talk about what I do for a living very often here on social media. You may know that I’m a scientist, a chemist to be exact. I’m going to geek out here, but if you stick this out, I promise you’ll learn something cool.

For the last thirty years, I’ve been involved in radioactive drugs that are used in PET scan procedures. You may know that PET scans are used by doctors to help diagnose certain types of cancer and dementia. A PET scan doesn’t fix anything, but it can sure be helpful when it comes to finding cancer and determining if treatments are working. My involvement in PET scans is through chemistry. It takes a PET drug to make a PET scan possible, and in turn it takes chemistry to make a PET drug possible. My efforts over the years have taken place behind the curtain where PET drugs get made. In addition, I’ve been actively involved in the regulations that are designed to ensure PET drugs are safe. When a doctor decides to use a PET scan, it is important that PET drugs don’t hurt patients in the process. The good news is that PET drugs have some unique properties that help make them safe. Of course, the ultimate US authority on the safety of PET drugs, and any drug for that matter, is the FDA.

For many months, I’ve been working with several colleagues to organize a workshop between the community of PET drug manufacturers and the FDA. It is about to happen. As a matter of fact, on Friday of this week, approximately 150 scientists, physicians, and pharmacists will gather at the FDA’s headquarters near Washington, DC, for an all-day workshop to discuss the regulation of PET drugs and how we can make them even better. This is an exciting event for me personally because I’ve staked my career on making PET drugs accessible to patients who rely on an answer that only a PET scan can provide. Many colleagues have the same goal, but I have done my share to move the technology forward. I’ve also put a ton of work into making this workshop a reality (along with my partners Sally, Henry, Matt, Sue, Dalton, and others).

So, if you or someone you know are one of the approximately 2 million people a year who get a PET scan in the US, you should know that 150 people are exploring ways to make PET drugs even safer. We don’t come out from behind the curtain often, so check out this link if you’d like to learn more. You can see an agenda for the workshop and even register to listen if you’re really ambitious!

Thanks for listening! While I’m out, please take a look at some additional dune images from my recent trip to the desert. I call this series “Melancholy Dunes.” I personally love this interpretation. I hope you do, too!


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