Roderic Pettigrew, Ph.D., M.D., an alumnus of the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), was elected in February to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), the component of the honorific National Academy of Sciences that advises lawmakers, policy-makers and other public and private sector leaders on matters relating to engineering. It is Pettigrew’s second election to the National Academy of Sciences; he was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 2007.
Pettigrew is one of very few Black members of the National Academy of Engineering, according to the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, which estimates that Blacks comprise only 0.5 percent of NAE membership.
The first director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, Pettigrew is also the first member of the National Institutes of Health community to be elected to both the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine, the branch of the National Academies that advises Congress on issues of health and medicine.
“To be recognized as having made substantial contributions in both fields is tremendously gratifying and humbling,” he said.
Pettigrew was one of 68 new members elected this year to the National Academy of Engineering. He was recognized for his research involving the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in studies of cardiovascular health, as well as for leading advancements in bioengineering research and education as director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, a component of the National Institutes of Health.
In 1983, Pettigrew was selected to join the inaugural class of the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development program. Supported by the Foundation, the program offers four-year grants to support the work of outstanding young medical faculty who are members of groups underrepresented in medicine or from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The program was a “tremendous jumpstart” to his career, he said. “It made me immediately attractive to a number of universities as a potential faculty member.”
In 1985, Pettigrew joined the faculty of Emory University and focused his research on non-invasive cardiac imaging. He subsequently became professor of Radiology Medicine (Cardiology) at Emory University and Bioengineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He also served as director of the Emory Center for Magnetic Resonance Research at Emory University’s School of Medicine.
Pettigrew earned a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering/applied radiation physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M.D. from the University of Miami School of Medicine in its accelerated two-year program. He spent a year as a clinical research scientist with Picker International, the first manufacturer of magnetic resonance equipment.