International leader, teacher, gifted scientist
Dr. Welch was a founding father to the field of radiopharmaceutical chemistry. By applying organic and pharmaceutical chemistry to the development and application of imaging agents, he developed a critical link between radionuclide production and nuclear imaging technology.
Dr. Welch was a radiochemist, who was a member of the faculty of the Department of Radiology at Washington University from 1967 until his passing in 2012. He was Professor of Radiology, Chemistry, and Molecular Developmental Biology, a member of the Biomedical Engineering Program, and head of the Siteman Cancer Center Oncologic Imaging Program. Dr. Welch’s career exemplified a long-term commitment to the development of diagnostic agents for cancer imaging, and his research focused on “molecular imaging” long before that term came into widespread use.
Dr. Welch was largely responsible for the development and widespread use of radiopharmaceuticals in medical research and practice. He was one of the first researchers to effectively use organic and pharmaceutical chemistry to forge the critical link between the production of radionuclides and nuclear imaging technology, notably positron emission tomography (PET).
Dr. Welch published 553 original scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, as well as 73 textbook chapters and 4 books, which emphasize the central importance of chemistry in the development of diagnostic agents. His research was broadly based, but focused on the development and applications of new image-enhancement agents within several major categories, many related to cancer imaging. His major contributions were in the area of radiopharmaceutical development, but several of his contributions addressed the development of novel contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging.