Molecular Imaging News
November 10, 2005
Nuclear Medicine Pioneer Hal O. Anger, 1920-2005
Nuclear medicine pioneer Hal O. Anger, BS, DSc, died October 31 at his home in Berkeley, CA. Recognized as a quiet genius who shaped the future of nuclear medicine, Anger?s contributions include instruments that allow physicians to see inside the human body in a way that is fundamentally different from x-ray technology. His gamma camera, developed in the 1950s, produces an image of the metabolic processes that take place within organs and cells, capturing the disease process in action rather than depicting the anatomical changes that accompany a disease. Anger?s inventions brought the diagnostic techniques made possible by the tracer principle into widespread use, and his instruments are still in common use today, diagnosing cancer, metabolic disorders, and heart disease.
Anger was born May 24, 1920, in Denver, CO, and grew up in Long Beach, CA. The period between the two world wars saw a number of advances in electronics. Anger?s family was involved with one of the first radio stations in Southern California. This stimulated in him an interest in electronics, which offered him the chance to build and test cutting-edge technologies with his own hands. While still in junior college he built one of the first television receivers in Long Beach using components from his college physics lab. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley (UCB) in 1943 with a degree in electrical engineering and spent the rest of World War II working on radar-jamming technology.
After the war, Anger returned to Berkeley and found a home at the Donner Laboratory, in the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory (Ernest O. Lawrence?s ?Rad Lab?). The Donner Laboratory was started as a facility for exploring the medical and therapeutic use of radiation. Anger stayed at Donner from 1946 until his retirement in 1982. His early work was with John Lawrence, MD, and Cornelius Tobias, PhD, co-founders of Donner, who were attempting to develop the 184-inch cyclotron beam for use in radiation therapy. In the early 1950s, Anger launched his own work on an instrument that would allow physicians to observe human organs in action. The gamma camera, also known as a scintillation or Anger camera, was first demonstrated at the Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM) annual meeting in 1958. A number of gamma cameras by multiple manufacturers were on display at the society?s 2005 annual meeting.
Anger?s hands-on approach to science also led to his invention of the well counter, used daily in nuclear medical labs around the world; the first whole-body scanner; the first positron camera; and the multiplane tomographic scanner.
Hal Anger?s ashes were placed at Sunset View Cemetery in El Cerrito, CA, on November 10. A monument at the site reads: Hal O. Anger, Nuclear Medicine Pioneer, Inventor of the Gamma Camera, 1920?2005. A memorial gathering for family, friends, and colleagues is planned for Saturday, November 19, at the Hotel Durant in Berkeley. Anyone wishing to attend may contact Cliff Anger at 403-815-2201.
Anger held 15 U.S. patents and wrote numerous journal articles and book chapters. He was the recipient of many major awards and honors, including the John Scott Award in 1964 for the development of the positron camera; a Guggenheim Fellowship, 1966; Gesellschaft fur Medizin, 1971; honorary doctorate in science, Ohio State University, 1972; Nuclear Medicine Pioneer Citation, SNM, 1974; Modern Medicine Award for Distinguished Achievement, 1975; SNM First Western Regional award for distinguished contributions to nuclear medicine, 1976; Centennial Year Medal, Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), 1984; Societé Française de Biophysique Medal, 1988; Georg de Hevesy Memorial Medal, Vienna, 1991; and Honorary Member and Fellow, American College of Nuclear Physicians, 1992.
In 1994, the Education and Research Foundation for the Society of Nuclear Medicine awarded Anger the first Cassen Prize, a $25,000 award given to a scientist, physician-scientist, or group of scientists whose work has led to a major advance in basic or clinical nuclear medicine science.
Anger is survived by his brother, Clifford D. Anger, PhD, of Canmore, Alberta, Canada.