Medical imaging scientist Samuel Achilefu has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine, a part of the National Academy of Sciences. Membership in the academy is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.
Achilefu is among 100 new members whose election to the National Academy of Medicine was announced Oct. 18. Current members of the organization elect new members based on their contributions to advancing public health, health care and medical science. All members volunteer time to serve on committees examining a broad range of health-policy issues.
Achilefu is the Michel M. Ter-Pogossian Professor of Radiology and director of the Optical Radiology Laboratory at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University School of Medicine. He is also an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the McKelvey School of Engineering. He is being recognized for outstanding contributions in the field of optical imaging for identifying sites of disease and characterizing biologic phenomena noninvasively.
Achilefu pioneered the development of molecular optical imaging and therapy for human diseases using novel molecular probes and light-sensitive drugs. He discovered a new molecular entity that can be used to deliver drugs to many types of cancer. Achilefu also leads a team that is developing a wearable goggle-based imaging system that allows surgeons to see cancerous cells during surgeries to help them completely remove tumors. Washington University has licensed the cancer goggle technology to Integro Theranostics, a Washington University startup company based in St. Louis.
Achilefu is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and the Optical Society. He directs the Molecular Imaging Center and the Center for Multiple Myeloma Nanotherapy at the School of Medicine. Achilefu also serves as vice chair of innovation and entrepreneurship at the university’s Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology and co-leads the Oncologic Imaging Program at Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the School of Medicine. A member of the National Advisory Council for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NACBIB), he was honored in 2019 for outstanding lifetime achievements in the field of biomedical optics with the Britton Chance Award in Biomedical Optics, given by the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE).