Dr. Welch was a pioneer in the use of a technique called Positron Emission Tomography (PET) to create new tools for understanding human physiology and diagnosing important diseases.

PET uses biologically active compounds like drugs, antibodies, nutrients and hormones labeled with radioactive tags (radioisotopes). These radioactive tracers allow researchers and physician to see the location of important molecular targets and events through PET imaging in normal biological processes as well as diseases like cancer, heart disease and neurological disorders. Dr. Welch was one of the first scientists to recognize the great potential and high impact of PET and contributed greatly to science and medicine through his career.

In addition to extensive collaborations within Washington University, Dr. Welch had several external long standing collaborations which were very productive. He worked closely with Dr. John A. Katzenellenbogen (University of Illinois) to design and test PET agents for imaging steroid hormone receptors critical in breast and prostate cancers. He also helped lead a multicenter initiative to develop nanoparticles as imaging agents with Dr. Karen Wooley (Texas A&M). Along with Dr. Yasuhisa Fujibayashi, (University of Fukui, Japan), Dr. Welch helped develop new imaging agents for sensing oxygen levels in tumors that have been used in clinical trials.

Dr. Welch also strove to make radioisotopes for creation of these imaging agents available to other institutions. Through this “Research Resource” originally supported by the National Institutes of Health with additional funding from the Department of Energy, Washington University has supplied radioisotopes to over 60 institutions throughout the US and Canada. This work has stimulated the use of copper-64 and other radioisotopes throughout the United States.

In addition to extensive collaborations within Washington University, Dr. Welch had several external long standing collaborations which were very productive. He worked closely with Dr. John A. Katzenellenbogen (University of Illinois) to design and test PET agents for imaging steroid hormone receptors critical in breast and prostate cancers. He also helped lead a multicenter initiative to develop nanoparticles as imaging agents with Dr. Karen Wooley (Texas A&M). Along with Dr. Yasuhisa Fujibayashi, (University of Fukui, Japan), Dr. Welch helped develop new imaging agents for sensing oxygen levels in tumors that have been used in clinical trials.

Dr. Welch’s work has expanded the library of imaging agents available to scientists and physicians, and many of these PET agents have been translated into human trials. These new agents included compounds to predict whether cancer would respond well to a certain type of therapy, compounds to investigate receptor status of tumors as well as other agents for cardiology and neurology.

Check back to find out more about ongoing and new research projects in the field!
 

OTHER SOURCES OF INFORMATION

SNM, Advancing Molecular Imaging and Therapy
Siteman Cancer Center
Washington University in St. Louis, Biology and Biomedical Sciences
Washington University in St. Louis, Center for Materials Innovation
International Center for Advanced Renewable Energy and Sustainability