Kuhl receives prestigious Japan Prize for science, technology

The Science and Technology Foundation of Japan has awarded Dr. David Kuhl, professor of radiology at the Medical School, its Japan Prize for technological integration of medical science and engineering.

The foundation honors those whose original and outstanding achievements in science and technology are recognized as having advanced the frontiers of knowledge and served the cause of peace and prosperity for mankind. This year marked the 25th year of the Japan Prize, which is described as one of the world's most prestigious awards in science and technology.

One of two recipients of the 2009 award, Kuhl is known as "the father of emission tomography" and was recognized for developing a novel method of tomographic imaging of the distribution of radioactive isotopes in the body.

"We all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Professor Kuhl," says Dr. James Woolliscroft, dean of the Medical School and Lyle C. Roll Professor of Medicine, at a faculty meeting Jan. 20. "His research impacts clinical care and research today and offers hope for treatment and research in ways we cannot yet imagine."

Kuhl, as the first U-M recipient of this award, is one of 66 people in 13 countries around the world who have received the prize. The Japan Prize laureate receives a certificate of merit and a commemorative medal.

"Dr. Kuhl is a role model for students, trainees and other faculty," says Dr. N. Reed Dunnick, Fred Jenner Hodges Professor and chair of radiology at the Medical School. "This recognition, which highlights his accomplishments, will serve as an additional beacon to attract the best and brightest to our field and to the University of Michigan."

Early in his career, Kuhl developed a new method of tomographic imaging, which takes the cross-sections of an image to create a 3-D picture, giving doctors more information to help with diagnosis. His research into tomographic imaging of the distribution of radioactive isotopes throughout the body began in the 1950s. He was the first to demonstrate the clinical utility of image separation in brain tumors and stroke. In the 1970s his continued research into 3-D imaging moved the field from cerebral circulation and pathophysiology, to transformative scientific discovery in neuroscience and behavioral science research.

Kuhl was recruited by U-M in 1986 to lead the Division of Nuclear Medicine and currently is a professor of radiology. His research works to accomplish earlier diagnosis of patients with Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.