Molecular Imaging and Biology

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 461–462 | Cite as

In Memory of Senator Ted Stevens, 1923–2010, US Senator for the State of Alaska, 1968–2008

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The Academy of Molecular Imaging (AMI) extends its deepest sympathies to the family of former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens. While Senator Stevens is known to have devoted his career to serving the people of Alaska, he was also a heroic supporter of research, development, and education in the field of molecular imaging. As a cancer survivor himself, he was an avid supporter of positron emission tomography (PET) scans for the early detection and treatment of cancer and led the educational campaign in Washington in support of FDA and CMS approvals for PET scan usage. As a result of Senator Stevens’ unwavering support, AMI has been able to advance the usage of molecular imaging technologies in cardiology, neurology, and in the fight against cancer. There are no words to express our gratitude to our friend, Senator Ted Stevens, and our sympathy and sadness over his death.

Tim McCarthy, PhD, President, Academy of Molecular Imaging

Dr. Juri Gelovani, MD, PhD, President-Elect, Academy of Molecular Imaging

As a tribute to Senator Stevens, we reprint a presentation by Dr. Michael Phelps to Senator Stevens at the Library of Congress honoring him on his 80th birthday. We share this tribute in memory of Senator Stevens and his long history of commitment to Research and to Molecular Imaging.

“I am a teacher, so I want to give you two lessons I learned because Ted is a reflection of both of them.

The first lesson: “All the world is about training and fighting. Training is a way of becoming and fighting is about standing and delivering when the time comes.” This was from my boxing coach, Ira Goldberg. This is, however, not about boxing. It is about life. Ted knows how to train to become what he needs to be, and when he steps onto the floor of the Senate, everyone knows he has come to fight—fight for what he passionately believes to be right, whether it is for his great state of Alaska or for our great country, both of which he loves dearly.

I was a teacher in a program called the Academy of Achievement put on by Cathy Reynolds in Dublin Ireland last year, where Mikhail Gorbachev was also one of the teachers. During Gorbachev’s teaching, he told a story about his campaign to become the President of Russia. He said, “In the middle of controversies in his campaign, along with economic and political turmoil in Russia, he was asked by a reporter how the campaign was going and how would he summarize it in one word? Gorbachev said, “GOOD”! The reporter said, “what if you could use two words?” Gorbachev said, “NOT GOOD”! He followed this with a statement, “When you are taking risk and making changes in a crisis, you must be able to handle the GOOD and NOT GOOD all at the same time, and you need to keep your sense of humor”.

This is a way of living for Ted.

The second lesson: “There is a natural curve in life. You go up, plateau and go down and the only way to deal with this is to be continually starting new curves and in this way always be in the state of becoming.” This is from Norton Simon who was a successful businessman, art collector of the great masters, and a creative supporter of education and medical research. He was Ted’s friend, as he was mine.

Ted is always in the state of becoming, most often for something that is good for some and bad for those who oppose it.

I am also a scientist. The toughest thing to do in science is to create new knowledge or invent new technology that never existed before. This is embraced by the term, “In the beginning”! Ted has been a force in the Senate “in the beginning” of a lot of turning points in science.

In the beginning, he mounted a campaign in DOD that initiated national funding of research on AIDS before the scientific community, and the public realized how devastating and widespread this promiscuous virus would become. He also believed that from this research, we would learn about other viral initiated diseases. He followed this by providing funding to NIH for AIDS as the Chair of Appropriations.

In the beginning, he initiated programs in breast and prostate cancer at times when the research was meager, beginning again in DOD and then expanding funding through NIH. He also believed that from these cancers, we would learn about all cancers—He believed that cancer is cancer, no matter where it begins.

Why did he do these things? Was it because of political pressure? No! In the beginning, there wasn’t any. That came later. He did it because he saw something wrong and wanted to correct it. Before he took any action, he learned everything he could from scientists he trusted. He is like a scientific interrogator when he engages scientists, along with his excessive natural curiosity.

For almost 25 years, Ted has been a relentless supporter of research with the PET scanner to provide a biological diagnosis of disease and to guide therapies. From this, he became a relentless and devoted force for good for the whole field of Molecular Imaging, from funding for research for all the modalities in molecular imaging to FDA approval and reimbursement for PET Molecular Imaging diagnostics in patient care. Ted has recently become a defining force to help build a new Molecular Medicine in our country to identify the molecular errors of disease and correct them.

Ted will always fight to protect the pioneering spirit of America, and for this, he has a grateful nation behind him.

I would like to conclude with an Irish toast to Ted, “You should always seek those people, who when you look into their eyes you feel the warmth of their heart and the strength of their convictions.”

We will always be part of each other’s lives, as loyal friends and good students and teachers of each other.”

Presented by:

Michael E. Phelps, PhD

Norton Simon Professor

Chair, Department of Molecular & Medical Pharmacology

Director, Institute for Molecular Medicine

Director, Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging

David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Ray Gibson, Ph.D.



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