Named professorships carry storied histories, honoring an institution’s influential figures while shepherding in a new era of leaders. Washington University’s first named professorship dates nearly to its inception, beginning with the William Greenleaf Eliot Professorship in Chemistry in 1856.
These four MIR leaders have made a permanent mark on the field of radiology — from physics to patient care. And this year, they have a new honorific to show for it.
Joseph P. Culver, PhD
Sherwood Moore Professor of Radiology
Joseph P. Culver, PhD, was named the Sherwood Moore Professor of Radiology on April 24, where he presented “Developing Neurophotonics for Blushing Brains.” Based in MIR’s Optical Imaging Laboratory, Culver develops neurophotonic technology for mapping brain function in both humans and animal models.
"Not everyone goes into hard science," said Richard L. Wahl, MD, Elizabeth E. Mallinckrodt Professor and MIR director. “But we need people in hard science to advance medicine.” He added that Culver’s work has solved pain points within research methods, making way for medical advancement.
Above: Culver with (from left) then-Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton; Richard L. Wahl, the Elizabeth E. Mallinckrodt Professor and director of MIR; and David H. Perlmutter, MD, dean of Washington University School of Medicine.
For example, Culver and his team have developed a method for using correlation analysis to map functional connectivity (fcDOT) within the brain.
This approach enables isolation of functional maps using resting-state measurement, providing taskless mapping of brain function in populations that were previously difficult to research using fcMRI or traditional DOT (for example, neonatal intensive care and open scanning environments). His team also recently presented the first DOT system capable of mapping distributed brain function and networks.
In addition to his own research endeavors, Culver’s work is a resource to numerous other scientists, as more than 100 of his publications have been cited over 9,000 times. He also co-directs the university’s Imaging Sciences Pathway and Imaging Sciences PhD program, rounding out his portfolio with years of dedicated mentorship and teaching experience.
Culver joined MIR’s faculty in 2003 after completing a doctorate in physics and a postdoctoral fellowship in biomedical ethics, both at the University of Pennsylvania.
Sherwood Moore, MD, (1880-1963) was the first professor of radiology at Washington University School of Medicine, and among the earliest to hold such a position in the nation. Moore, who was the founding director of MIR, installed one of the first deep therapy units for cancer and is credited with helping build the university’s first cyclotron. Developed to produce radioactive isotopes for medical use, the cyclotron was notably used during World War II to produce plutonium for the Manhattan Project.
A visionary in the field of radiology, Moore staffed his team with a physicist, a sign of his ingenuity in the imaging sciences. “Even in a very small radiology department, he recognized that physics was very important,” said Wahl at Culver’s installation ceremony.
Moore earned his medical degree from the Washington University Medical Department in 1905. After several years of practice, he returned to the university in 1917, as an assistant professor of surgery and roentgenologist-in-chief at then-Barnes Hospital.
Farrokh Dehdashti, MD
Drs. Barry A. and Marilyn J. Siegel Professor of Radiology
Farrokh Dehdashti, MD, was installed as the inaugural Drs. Barry A. and Marilyn J. Siegel Professor of Radiology on May 29, where she presented “Oncologic PET Beyond Tumor Detection: Assessing Cancer Biology with Novel PET Tracers.”
Dehdashti’s research focuses on PET imaging for cancer diagnosis and treatment, with applications across many cancers, including cervical, pancreatic, prostate and breast. She has conducted first-in-man studies of several novel PET radiotracers and has advanced PET usage for tumor detection, characterization of tumor phenotype and predicting treatment response.
Above: Then-Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton (far right) secures Dehdashti’s medal, while (from left) David H. Perlmutter, MD, dean of Washington University School of Medicine, Barry A. Siegel, MD, and Marilyn J. Siegel, MD, look on.
Earlier in her career Dehdashti, who is senior vice chair and director of the division of nuclear medicine at MIR, proved that PET could accurately and noninvasively predict response to endocrine therapy. This breakthrough discovery held significant potential for patients, who could be spared the invasiveness of multiple biopsies and ineffective therapy. Most recently, she translated a novel progesterone receptor radiotracer to assess whether it can accurately predict a response to endocrine therapy.
In addition to her translational research pursuits at the School of Medicine, Dehdashti co-leads the Oncologic Imaging Program at Siteman Cancer Center, and holds Investigational New Drug status from the FDA for investigational radiotracers.
Dehdashti joined the faculty at the School of Medicine in 1990, after working as a research fellow in PET imaging, following a nuclear medicine residency at the Medical College of Wisconsin and at MIR.
Barry A. and Marilyn J. Siegel
Barry A. Siegel, MD, is professor of radiology and of medicine, and former senior vice chair and division director of nuclear medicine. Marilyn J. Siegel, MD, is professor of radiology and of pediatrics. The couple, who met when Marilyn Siegel was completing a residency and fellowship at MIR, established the professorship in 2016.
Barry Siegel’s Washington University career spans more than 55 years, beginning as an undergraduate and leading up to a faculty appointment in 1973. His groundbreaking work using PET to enhance cancer diagnosis and monitor tumor response to therapy has culminated in numerous awards, including the prestigious Benedict Cassen Prize from the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging and a Lifetime Achievement Master Physician Award from the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Medical Staff Association.
Marilyn Siegel was the first woman to serve as chief resident in radiology at the School of Medicine, and has been a pioneer of CT scanning since the technology’s infancy. She has authored more than 300 works, including the internationally known “Pediatric Sonography.” She was recently honored with a Gold Medal from the Society of Computed Body Tomography & Magnetic Resonance.
Steven P. Poplack, MD
Ronald and Hanna Evens Endowed Chair in Women’s Health
Steven P. Poplack, MD, was named the Ronald and Hanna Evens Endowed Chair in Women’s Health on November 7, where he presented a summary of his research endeavors titled “‘Pilot’-ing through Turbulence.” The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital bestows this honor to recognize excellence in the field of breast imaging.
Poplack’s contributions to radiology include an array of novel techniques for breast cancer diagnosis using digital breast tomosynthesis, near-infrared light, microwave and electrical impedance spectroscopy, and treatment with US-guided cryoablation. He helped lead a multisite clinical trial of tomosynthesis that resulted in FDA approval of the technology.
Above: Poplack with (from left) Hanna Evens; Barbara S. Monsees, professor emerita of radiology; and former MIR Director Ronald G. Evens, MD, professor emeritus of radiology.
Like the professorship’s namesakes Ronald and Hanna Evens — the former served as MIR’s director for nearly 30 years, the latter as a nurse at St. Louis Children’s Hospital — Poplack’s work has advanced patient care in more ways than one.
“Steve is a true innovator in breast imaging, whose work has helped lead to the introduction of important imaging technologies that directly improve our patients’ care,” said Richard L. Wahl, MD, the Elizabeth E. Mallinckrodt Professor and director of MIR. “He is constantly exploring and carefully validating new methods in well-performed clinical trials.”
Poplack, along with Quing Zhu, professor of biomedical engineering, is currently evaluating a noninvasive imaging technique that could significantly reduce unnecessary biopsies by utilizing US-guided diffuse light tomography.
Poplack arrived at Washington University in 2015 following 21 years at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. He succeeds former chair and professor emerita of radiology, Barbara S. Monsees, MD, who retired from MIR in 2018.
Ronald and Hanna Evens
The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital established the Ronald and Hanna Evens Endowed Chair in Women’s Health in 2004 to recognize the distinguished career of former MIR Director Ronald G. Evens, MD. Evens has held many leadership roles at BJC HealthCare and Washington University, including president of Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children’s Hospital, the university’s vice chancellor for financial affairs, senior executive officer for special projects at BJC HealthCare and interim president of Barnes-Jewish College of Nursing.
Former Washington University Chancellor William H. Danforth, MD, called Evens ‘‘a whiz from the start.’’ In 1971, at just 31 years old, Evens was tapped to lead MIR and a year later became the first endowed chair in radiology as the Elizabeth E. Mallinckrodt Professor. During his time as president of Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Evens co-created the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center, an international leader in cancer treatment.
Evens’ wife Hanna graduated from Barnes Hospital School of Nursing and is a former nurse at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
Pamela K. Woodard, MD
Hugh Monroe Wilson Professor of Radiology
Pamela K. Woodard, MD, was installed as the Hugh Monroe Wilson Professor of Radiology on January 31, where she presented “Imaging the Biology of Atherosclerosis.”
The endowed chair honors Hugh Monroe Wilson, MD, MIR’s second director. Like Wilson, Woodard specializes in cardiothoracic imaging and is internationally recognized for her achievements.
At MIR, Woodard’s responsibilities are numerous, encompassing both clinical and educational pursuits. She is senior vice chair and division director of radiology research facilities, director of the Center for Clinical Imaging Research, head of Advanced Cardiac Imaging CT/MRI and director of the Radiology Research Residency Program.
Not only has she taught clinical residents and fellows, but she has trained 27 others, ranging from graduate students to post-doctoral students. Woodard also serves as principal investigator for the NIH-funded T32 Training Opportunities in Translational Imaging Education and Research (TOP-TIER) program.
Above: Woodard with (from left) David H. Perlmutter, MD, dean of Washington University School of Medicine; Richard L. Wahl, MD, the Elizabeth E. Mallinckrodt Professor and director of MIR; and then-Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.
“The inaugural recipient, Dr. Woodard, like Dr. Wilson, is both a leader in the department and a phenomenal clinician who has demonstrated a deep commitment to the health and well-being of others,” says David H. Perlmutter, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the Washington University School of Medicine.
In addition to her role in educating the next generation of scientists, Woodard’s research has moved the needle for patient care. As an assistant professor in 1995, she and her colleagues led an NIH-funded multicenter trial that resulted in a landmark paper that established multidetector CT as the standard of care for pulmonary embolism diagnosis. She is currently leading an NIH-funded first-in-human clinical trial for an atherosclerosis PET tracer and holds several patents for receptor-targeted imaging agents.
Woodard completed her clinical fellowship in cardiothoracic radiology at MIR and joined the faculty in 1997. In 2018, she was appointed to the Board of Chancellors of the American College of Radiology.
Hugh Monroe Wilson
Hugh Monroe Wilson, MD (1902-1978), graduated from Washington University School of Medicine in 1927 and pursued surgical training, then radiology training at MIR. In 1949, after a 15-year tenure at Yale, he returned to become MIR’s second director and usher in an ambitious future for the department.
Wilson arrived during a time when the field of radiology was broadening and MIR was prepped for unprecedented growth. Wilson, who specialized in chest imaging, played a key role in developing specialty areas within the department.
A phrase frequently attributed to Wilson speaks to his clinical philosophy: "A missed diagnosis is a personal loss to both the patient and the radiologist." Beyond his clinical work, Wilson was a valued teacher and established the Association of University Radiologists, which still has over 1,600 members.
Despite a plethora of professional accomplishments, Wilson was a modest man and largely refused to be publicly recognized. However, he eventually agreed to an award in his name for medical students who excelled in radiology.