Media contacts:
Ron Sauder, 404/727-3366,
Sylvia Wrobel, 404/727-4347,
May 10, 2002


Emory Doctor Named First Director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering

ATLANTA -- The director of the Emory Center for MR Research, a radiologist who is consistently listed among the "Best Doctors in America," has been named director of the newest institute in the National Institutes of Health.

Roderic Pettigrew, MD, PhD, professor in Emory School of Medicine's Departments of Radiology and Medicine (cardiology), and in the Emory/Georgia Tech Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, will be the first permanent director of the NIH's National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB). His appointment comes following a long and detailed search by a blue ribbon panel. He will begin work in late August or early September at the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

Established in December 2000 by an act of Congress, NIBIB's mission is to improve health by supporting fundamental research in bioengineering and bioimaging science, and then transferring the results to medical applications. NIBIB is one of 27 components of the NIH.

"I am delighted that Dr. Pettigrew will be assuming the directorship of the NIH's newest institute," said Ruth L. Kirschtein, MD, acting director of the NIH. "The NIBIB is the only institute at NIH dedicated to biomedical technologies, and we believe that this new direction is truly a reflection of where science is today, and where it will take us tomorrow. Dr. Pettigrew, a recognized expert in the development and application of bioimaging techniques to patient care, will provide dynamic leadership in our efforts to apply the principles of engineering and imaging science to biological processes, disorders, and diseases."

Dr. Pettigrew, an Albany, Georgia native, has been at the forefront of research in cardiovascular MR (magnetic resonance imaging) since the early 1980s, following his receipt of a BS in physics from Morehouse College (cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa), a PhD in applied radiation physics from MIT, and an MD from the University of Miami. After serving as a clinical NMR scientist at Picker International, he came to Emory in 1985 as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Fellow to study noninvasive cardiac imaging. He has been a leader in dynamic three-dimensional imaging of the heart, and also served as co-developer of the first commercial software package for cardiac MR analysis (the Phillips Cardiac Module). He's also one of the Emory physicians consistently listed in the "Best Doctors in America," placing him in the top 4 percent of physicians in the nation.

An elected Fellow of the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, Dr. Pettigrew was chosen to give the Eugene Pendergrass New Horizons Lecture at the 75th annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, the largest medical meeting in the world, on "4 Dimensional Cardiac MRI: Diagnostic Procedure of the Future."

For NIBIB, he said, "the vision is clear. It's the merger of technology with biomedical science to effect longer and healthier lives, and eliminate disease."

Dr. William Casarella, chairman of the Department of Radiology, has been close to Dr. Pettigrew since he came to Emory as a Robert Wood Johnson Fellow 17 years ago.

"Rod Pettigrew is the perfect person to lead this new Institute," says Dr. Casarella. " He has a strong medical background, understands diagnostic imaging, and has a strong engineering background that began with his PhD program at MIT and has continued over the years with his continued relationship with Georgia Tech. In addition, he has been chair of the study section in diagnostic imaging at the NIH for several years and understands the grant process, where the field is and where it is going. So he understands the NIH, he understands biomedical engineering, and he understands diagnostic imaging. There aren't too many people who can do that. He's the perfect combination of those three talents."

Dr. Casarella adds that Emory will miss Dr. Pettigrew, although he will retain a faculty appointment here. "We're very proud of him to have accomplished everything that he has, and we are very proud that the NIH has recognized his talents," says Dr. Casarella. "They've gotten a very good person."

Return to May Index

For more general information on The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center
call Health Sciences Communication's Office at 404-727-5686,
or send e-mail to

Copyright © Emory University, 2001. All Rights Reserved.