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  • Norbert J. Pelc, ScD

  • Radiologists’ understanding of the imaging modalities they use each day would not be the same without the career of Norbert J. Pelc, ScD. Having conducted research in all medical imaging modalities, and in particular digital x-ray, computed tomographic (CT), and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, Dr Pelc possesses extraordinary knowledge of the technical aspects of imaging and a one-of-a-kind insight into advanced applications and basic research. He has contributed to the development of these modalities as a researcher working in industry and academia; as an educator, he also has imparted his experience to aid a new generation of scientists in making their contributions.

    Dr Pelc serves as the Boston Scientific applied biomedical engineering professor and professor of bioengineering and radiology and, by courtesy, of electrical engineering at Stanford University School of Medicine (Stanford, Calif). He is chair of the Department of Bioengineering and spent 10 years as associate chair for research in the Department of Radiology.

    Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dr Pelc became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1974. He received his BS degree in applied mathematics, engineering, and physics from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and his SM and ScD degrees in medical radiological physics from Harvard University (Boston, Mass). His doctoral dissertation titled “A Generalized Filtered Backprojection Algorithm for Three Dimensional Reconstruction” examined three-dimensional reconstruction from projections, with application to positron emission tomography and x-ray imaging.

    He was a National Science Foundation (NSF) undergraduate research fellow in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin and an NSF graduate fellow in the medical radiological physics program at the School of Public Health at Harvard University, where he also completed a National Institutes of Health (NIH) traineeship.

    Dr Pelc began his career in industry, serving for more than a decade as a senior physicist and also the manager of the Applied Science Laboratory at GE Medical Systems and working on the cutting edge of developments in CT, MR imaging, and digital radiography. His academic appointments prior to Stanford included serving as an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Radiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin (Milwaukee, Wis) and as a research assistant in the Physics Research Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston, Mass).

    With current research focuses on CT, digital x-ray, and hybrid multimodality systems, Dr Pelc is leading the development of new concepts for CT. He has also helped to develop hybrid platforms that will give physicians a range of modality options when performing image-guided therapy.

    Dr Pelc served on the first National Advisory Council of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering of the NIH. He has served RSNA as a third vice-president in 2010 and as an annual meeting session moderator, member of the physics subcommittee of the Scientific Program Committee, and member of the Public Information Advisors Network.

    He is a reviewer for numerous journals including the Journal of Magnetic Resonance ImagingRadiologyMedical Physics, and Magnetic Resonance in Medicine and served on the editorial boards of Medical PhysicsJournal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and Magnetic Resonance Quarterly, as well as the Artech Publishing Engineering in Medicine & Biology book series. Dr Pelc has reviewed grant applications to the NIH, the Medical Research Council of Canada, the Veterans Administration, and the Whitaker Foundation.

    Dr Pelc’s numerous teaching positions include service for more than 20 years as a doctoral research advisor in electrical engineering, biophysics, physics, applied physics, and bioengineering at Stanford. He has taught the residents physics course in the Department of Radiology at Stanford for more than 20 years and was a longtime instructor of the current concepts in magnetic resonance course sponsored by Stanford University and of the advanced techniques in MRI course sponsored by Duke University.

    Elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2012 in recognition of his contributions to CT and MR, Dr Pelc is also a fellow of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM), the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, and the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering. He was recently awarded the Edith H. Quimby Lifetime Achievement Award by AAPM. To Dr Pelc’s numerous honors, RSNA is pleased to add the 2013 Outstanding Researcher.