Arthur M. Bueche Award

2019 Arthur M. Bueche Award Acceptance Remarks

Dr. Roderic Ivan Pettigrew, PhD, MD
2019 Arthur M. Bueche Award Winner
Acceptance Remarks

Good afternoon, everyone, and to President John Anderson, Chairman Gordon England, Awards Committee Chairperson Maxine Savitz, and Past President Dan Mote, who called to inform me of this committee decision.

I am so deeply appreciative of this wonderful and historic award. To the committee, Dr. Savitz, and all those involved in the committee’s deliberative process, I thank you. To the nominators and supporters—no doubt some in this audience—I thank you. To my 35 years of colleagues along the way across industry and three institutions—I thank you all. In particular, I thank

  • AV Lakshminaraynin, an industry mentor from whom I really learned MR physics;
  • Bill Casarella, Bob Nerem, and Don Giddens – Emory Georgia Tech who give support at the start of my career;
  • Doug Maynard and Shu Chien, who were critical to the creation of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) and have been career-long mentors; and
  • dear friends Larry Tabak and Francis Collins, who provided strong support for me at NIH.

Though I did not personally know Arthur Bueche, I have marveled at his history and his professional life. An international statesman for engineering, a steadfast advocate for science and technology, an advisor to the government and academia, a top-level industrial executive, and an innovator relentlessly focused on the application of research to societal needs.… He was truly a man for all seasons.

What a humbling experience to receive an award named in recognition of such a person, and what a great honor for one’s life work to be recognized by colleagues and peers.

All of us are privileged to work in a field that contributes so profoundly to the betterment and quality of life on this planet. In fact, engineering has indeed been transformative for the global society—we know this. Modern medicine, for example, simply would not be possible without engineering, and the same can be said for all sectors of society.

Moreover, what the future holds is staggering to consider. There is realistic hope to meet currently daunting challenges, such as

  • the ready availability of modern precision medicine across the planet including the world’s vast underserved populations;
  • Alzheimer’s treatments commensurate with recent advances in detection;
  • immunoengineering to control the immune system, which is central to many of the most devastating diseases; and
  • engineered molecular therapies for an array of illnesses that have no current effective treatments.

These challenges can be addressed through converged approaches with engineering playing the role of catalyzing discovery and translating discoveries into practical advances that improve well-being. This is our imperative and our responsibility—we embrace this.

In sum, for health care, engineering medicine can help achieve the overarching goal of good health for the entirety of our lives.

I would like to acknowledge my family in the audience and at home. Critical family commitments prevented the attendance of Robin and Rory Pettigrew, my immediate and dedicated support system. But with me are my dear cousin Denisha Willis, adopted sister Lillian Ashley, and NIH colleagues Drs. Peter Basser, Shadi Mamaghani, Bruce Tromberg, and Michael Cheetham (formerly of the State Department and now at NIH), and my new TAMU colleague Dr Cynthia Hipwell. I also must recognize my deceased parents, Edwina and CW Pettigrew. If they were here today, I can assure you that they would be among the proudest of persons in this galaxy. But more than proud, they would be most pleased to know that the profession I have entered is so meaningful and has brought so much good to so many.

I do thank you all.