David E. Kuhl

Lives Lived

David E. Kuhl, M.D.

Fall 2017
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David E. Kuhl, M.D., a professor emeritus of radiology known internationally for his pioneering work in positron emission tomography, died on May 28, 2017. Kuhl received an M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1955 and completed his residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He served on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Los Angeles, before joining U-M in 1986 as chief of the Division of Nuclear Medicine. He remained division chief until his retirement in June 2011. 

Early in his career, Kuhl developed a new method of tomographic imaging and constructed several tomographic instruments. The imaging techniques he invented were developed further in the 1970s and are now called positron emission tomography. Kuhl’s body of research focused on the development of new measures of neurochemical and metabolic processes within the living brain using radioactive tracers and emission reconstruction tomography. These techniques enabled the development of drugs targeted to the earliest stages of degenerative brain disease. 

Kuhl was a founding member of the Society of Nuclear Medicine, and he received numerous honors, including the Japan Prize from the Science and Technology Foundation of Japan (2009), the Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine from the Ernst Jung Foundation (1981), the Charles F. Kettering prize from the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation (2001), and the Benedict Cassen Prize for research leading to a major advance in nuclear medicine science from the National Institutes of Health (1996). 

This obituary, originally published in The Ann Arbor News, has been edited for style and length.