Friday, June 27, 2014

Weissleder named to Thrall professorship


SHAPING THE FUTURE: From left, James Brink, MD, chief of Radiology; Tarbell; Thrall; Weissleder; and Slavin

MGH and Harvard Medical School (HMS) faculty gathered May 19 at the medical school to celebrate the newly established Thrall Family Professorship in Radiology, named in honor of Jim Thrall, MD, and its first incumbent, Ralph Weissleder, MD, PhD, director of the MGH Center for Systems Biology.

“Jim’s impact goes far beyond the walls of Radiology,” said Peter L. Slavin, MD, MGH president. “For more than 25 years, Jim has provided sage advice and guidance, helping shape the future direction of the hospital for years to come. The Thrall legacy will live on in perpetuity through this professorship.”

Thrall, chairman emeritus of the MGH Department of Radiology, began working at the hospital in 1988. He promoted diversification as a means to avert financial problems and was an early adopter of quality metrics. Slavin said Thrall also oversaw extraordinary growth in the MGH Radiology Research enterprise, which is currently recognized as the best radiology research program in the world. During Thrall’s 25-year tenure, the MGH became nationally recognized as a leader in virtually every aspect of radiology.

In addition to Slavin, Nancy Tarbell, MD, dean for HMS Academic and Clinical Affairs, spoke at the event. “Ralph is as an outstanding member of our faculty, a skilled clinician, an exceptional researcher and a truly deserving inaugural incumbent for this great honor.”

Weissleder came to the MGH in 1986 for his post-doctoral training in magnetic resonance imaging. He now is considered one of the world’s leading experts in molecular imaging, chemical biology and nanotechnology. He also is an active clinician in interventional radiology. Several of his research discoveries have been evaluated in clinical trials that are expected to have a significant impact on patient care. He is the director of the Center for Systems Biology, one of five thematic research centers at the MGH. Weissleder’s lab has been a driving force in studying human biology, especially cancer and inflammatory disease. Tarbell says Weissleder has been an integral part of helping to shape the future of research at the MGH.

“It is a tremendous honor and privilege to become the Thrall Family Professor at Harvard,” said Weissleder. “Jim Thrall has been a mentor, a colleague and a visionary in the imaging field.”

The professorship was established through a donation from the Department of Radiology, along with individual gifts from family, friends and colleagues of Thrall. Following Thrall's retirement, the professorship will be renamed the James H. Thrall Professorship in Radiology. 

Read more articles from the 06/27/14 Hotline issue.

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