Preeminent imaging researcher Fox earns UT Health Science Center’s highest award

SAN ANTONIO (Jan. 23, 2009) — World-renowned imaging researcher Peter T. Fox, M.D., is the 2009 Presidential Distinguished Scholar at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

The university announced the selection today in advance of its Jan. 29 Presidential Awards Ceremony. Those who nominated Dr. Fox described him as a brilliant scholar, an inspirational leader and an exceptional educator.

William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP, dean of the School of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs who on Feb. 2 will become interim president of the Health Science Center, will present an award medal and plaque to Dr. Fox. The Distinguished Scholar also receives $5,000.

“I view this award primarily as recognition of the impact of the newly established but rapidly advancing scientific discipline of imaging-based neuroscience, to which my colleagues and I have had the good fortune to make some small contributions,” said Dr. Fox, founding director of the Research Imaging Center (RIC) in 1991. “Creation of the Research Imaging Center so soon after the birth of this field showed great vision by the Health Science Center. The outstanding, ongoing support of the administration continues to realize this vision. The opportunity to work in such a premier facility and with such a remarkable team of colleagues and collaborators is a great privilege and pleasure for me.”

Dr. Fox, who earned his M.D. from Georgetown University School of Medicine, interned at the Duke University School of Medicine and completed his residency and a fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis. He was a senior staff scientist at Johns Hopkins University’s Mind/Brain Institute before joining the Health Science Center in 1991 with appointments in radiology, neurology, psychiatry and physiology to create the RIC.

Under Dr. Fox’s leadership, the RIC has amassed one of the world’s largest arrays of imaging equipment for research with animals. New faculty recruits praise the RIC and name it as a factor in accepting a position here. Established scientists throughout Texas, impressed by the facility’s capabilities and the faculty’s expertise, have conducted joint research studies. Collaborators from as far away as Hong Kong and Beijing have come to the RIC to carry out imaging research. The center is one of the few in the U.S. that enables researchers to study multiple species of animals with multiple types of systems, including functional and anatomical MRI, and positron-emission tomography (PET). A state-of-the-art animal facility resides within to eliminate the stress on animals of being transported from other buildings.

A Health Science Center colleague, Donald Robin, Ph.D., wrote that Dr. Fox “has created what is arguably the top imaging center in the world by encouraging an environment of collaboration, critical thinking and freedom to push the limits of new ideas.”

Dr. Fox’s impact extends far beyond the Research Imaging Center. He was instrumental in developing the international Organization for Human Brain Mapping and is a past president. With his colleagues, he established a Brain Map database used by scientists worldwide. The journal Human Brain Mapping, which he founded in 1992 and co-edits with colleague Dr. Jack Lancaster, is the highest ranked of all imaging journals with a 6.15 impact factor.

“Peter Fox has been a pioneer and innovator in the field of brain mapping throughout his career,” wrote one of his nominators, John Mazziotta, M.D., Ph.D., chair of neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “His talents, insights, dedication and innovation have been a driving force in the development of human neuroimaging methods and applications.”

Prominent well-known journals such as Nature and Science have published Dr. Fox’s work. A series of landmark PET studies that Dr. Fox conducted with the University of Melbourne in Australia identified for the first time the brain regions involved in critical physiological processes, including thirst, hunger for air and dehydration. Other studies explained the brain’s role in stuttering and depression. Dr. Fox was named 2003’s Most Highly Cited Scientist in the neurosciences. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

More than 20 other individuals are honored during the annual Presidential Awards Ceremony. A list of categories and honorees follows.

Presidential Junior Research Scholar: Nicolas Musi, M.D., Medicine/Diabetes; Clinical Excellence Award: Alicia G. Galvan, D.D.S., General Dentistry; Karen Hentschel-Franks, D.O., Pediatrics; David F. Jimenez, M.D., FACS, Neurosurgery; Teaching Excellence Award: Robert Castro, M.D., Pediatrics; Taline Dadian Infante, RDH, Dental Hygiene; Rebecca Loredo-Hernandez, M.D., Radiology; Catherine Ortega, Ed.D., PT, ATC, Physical Therapy; Fred Richards III, Ph.D., Cellular and Structural Biology; Frank Weaker, Ph.D., Cellular and Structural Biology; Employee Excellence in Service Award: Linda Ancira, Biochemistry; Beverly Heisler, Cellular and Structural Biology; Darleen Loftice, Pediatrics; Jude A. Lynch, Library; Lester Rosebrock, Academic Technology Services; Presidential Volunteer Service Award: Gold — Cynthia Ideker-Sowle, Obstetrics and Gynecology; Silver — Alice Allen, Regulatory Affairs/Compliance; Bronze — James Lukose, student, School of Nursing; Presidential Ambassador Scholar: Rosemary Ojo, School of Medicine; Shalaine Smith, School of Nursing; Cecily Jackson, Dental School; Jacob Garza, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; Natalie Ramirez, School of Health Professions.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is the leading research institution in South Texas and one of the major health sciences universities in the world. With an operating budget of $668 million, the Health Science Center is the chief catalyst for the $16.3 billion biosciences and health care sector in San Antonio’s economy. The Health Science Center has had an estimated $36 billion impact on the region since inception and has expanded to six campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. More than 25,600 graduates (physicians, dentists, nurses, scientists and other health professionals) serve in their fields, including many in Texas. Health Science Center faculty are international leaders in cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, aging, stroke prevention, kidney disease, orthopaedics, research imaging, transplant surgery, psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, pain management, genetics, nursing, dentistry and many other fields. For more information, visit

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