The following story originally appeared in the Jan. 10, 2019, edition of the VUMC Reporter.
In recognition of his research contributions to improve magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods for detecting and quantifying spinal cord damage, Seth Smith, Ph.D., associate professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences, Biomedical Engineering and Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, was recently awarded a 2018 Distinguished Investigator Award by the Academy for Radiology and Biomedical Imaging Research (ARR).
The award, which was presented at the annual Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) meeting held recently in Chicago, aims to “acknowledge and celebrate high levels of achievement in the field of academic imaging research.”
In addition to holding a primary faculty appointment in an academic radiology department, nominees must have a minimum of 25 peer-reviewed scientific research publications in which they are a first or senior author and at least six cumulative years of funding experience as the principal investigator of major competitive extramural research grants.
“It is really quite an honor to receive this recognition. We often spend our time thinking about problems to solve, grants to write and other opportunities for research that have patient impact, and rarely do we consider recognition for the body of work we have built up over our careers,” Smith said. “It is also humbling to stand with pioneers in the field and to realize that the individuals surrounding you are those same individuals whose work you studied during your own training.”
Smith, who was recently appointed as the associate director of the Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science (VUIIS), began his career developing advanced MRI methods for adrenoleukodystrophy — a deadly pediatric genetic disease characterized by the breakdown of myelin — before focusing on spinal cord damage in a variety of diseases, which he hopes will lead to a sustained clinical impact.
“Seth is internationally recognized for his innovative translational research in MRI, and in particular for developing advanced imaging biomarkers of disorders of the spine and nerves, such as multiple sclerosis,” said VUIIS Director John Gore, Ph.D., the Hertha Ramsey Cress Professor of Medicine and University Professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “He has established one of the leading spine imaging programs in the world at Vanderbilt that has benefited multiple research studies and patients. I was delighted to nominate him for the Investigator Award and solicit recognition for his contributions to imaging science.”