Michael E Phelps, Ph.D.

Positions & Affiliations:

Norton Simon Professor Emeritus, Molecular & Medical Pharmacology

Professor, Biomathematics


Dr. Phelps is the Norton Simon Emeritus Professor, Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology.

Dr. Phelps earned B.S. degrees in chemistry and mathematics at Western Washington State University, and a Ph.D. in chemistry, at Washington University, St. Louis. Dr. Phelps is the inventor of the Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanner with Dr. Edward Hoffman. With his UCLA colleagues, he invented a PC controlled small, self-shielded cyclotron with automated synthesis of radiolabeled imaging probes for PET that formed the basis of the worldwide distribution of PET radiopharmacies. The probe synthesizer was invented by Drs. Jorge Barrio and Satyamurthy. With his UCLA colleagues and students, he developed numerous in vivo assays for PET to provide measures of biological processes for translation to molecular imaging diagnostics of the biology of disease in patient care. Dr. Phelps is a member of the National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Medicine. He has published 720 peer-reviewed scientific articles and 4 textbooks.

Dr. Phelps is the founder of the Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging that is a science and technology institute. He also founded the Department of Molecular & Medical Pharmacology that is the only pharmacology department in the world that contains the Nuclear Medicine and PET/CT clinical service and academic programs. This provides for the integration of in vivo molecular imaging diagnostics of the biology of disease with PET, in vitro molecular diagnostics in blood, and molecular & cell based therapeutics, all based upon the biology of disease. Along with UCLA and Caltech faculty, and public figures, Phelps founded Momentum, Biosciences (MoM), the first biotech incubator in the LA area.

He has received recognition for his scholarship by the George de Hevesy (Nobel Laureate in Chemistry) Prize, chaired the 1983 Nobel Symposium, Stockholm; S. Weir Mitchell Award, Academy of Neurology; Rosenthal Foundation Award, American College of Physicians; the Ernest O. Lawrence Award, Dept. of Energy; the Enrico Fermi Presidential Award by President Clinton; Kettering Prize, General Motors Cancer Research Foundation; Gave the Keynote Address, 2007 Nobel Symposium, Stockholm, Massry Award, Massry Foundation; Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Award, German Society of Nuclear Medicine; Gold Medal Award, World Molecular Imaging Society; Gold Medal Award, American Roentgen Ray Society; and others.

He is the CoB of the Norton Simon Foundation, member of the boards of the Norton Simon Art Foundation and Norton Simon Museum.

He was one of the 3 founders of CTI Molecular Imaging, that after acquiring 45% of the CTI, Siemens purchased the remaining 55% in 2005.