Ionizing Radiation had its first and perhaps most important application outside of scientific investigations in the field of medicine. It was not long after Wilhelm Roentgen deduced the nature of the unknown "x-rays" emanating from a Crookes Tube that physicians realized the power of this high energy radiation to see far beyond what the visible region of the spectrum could illuminate.
At the dawn of the 20th century, Marie Curie would significantly advance the use of this new radiation in medicine, not only by the discovery and extraction of metals that emitted these rays but in expanding their use to image soldiers on the battlefield in WWI and putting her newfound elements to use to treat disease as well. Curie is undoubtedly the matriarch of the use radiation in medicine and the field of Nuclear Medicine that would develop as a peaceful byproduct of the Manhattan Project in the 1940s.
As early pioneers like Roentgen and the Curies also discovered, ionizing radiation can be powerfully damaging to biological systems in large doses, but properly applied it represents one of the most powerful tools a physician has to both diagnose and treat disease. Nuclear medicine represents the use of radioactive isotopes- like those Marie Curie discovered- in the form of radiopharmaceutical products that serve as diagnostic tracers and therapeutic agents. Some of my work in this field is presented in the sections below, as well as some commentary on what the future of these technologies may look like.
Nuclear Imaging and PET isotopes
For more of the history of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, check out the Medicine page in the Collections area of this site.