The College of Engineering’s Awards Committee has selected Dr. Eric Berg as the winner of the 2017 Zuhair A. Munir Award for Best Doctoral Dissertation.
Berg’s award-winning dissertation, “Detectors, Algorithms, and Scanner Technology for Total-Body PET,” focuses on developing a whole new paradigm for medical imaging.
As part of his research, Berg developed a total-body positron emission tomography (PET) scanner that radically improves the quality and diagnostic capabilities of PET imaging. In addition to improving the diagnosis and monitoring of cancer patients, Berg’s research presents new applications for the use of total-body imaging to study infectious diseases like HIV and tuberculosis, and complex, multi-organ diseases including metabolic diseases, autoimmune diseases, and brain-gut interactions.
The research was chaired by Professor Simon Cherry in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Cherry describes Berg as a fantastic colleague and mentor to all around him.
“Eric has been an outstanding student who has done groundbreaking research that has the potential to change the way PET imaging is used both in the clinic and in research into a wide range of human diseases,” said Cherry. “He is richly deserving of this award not only for his broad and important intellectual contributions but also for his incredible productivity.”
The National Institutes of Health recently awarded UC Davis $15.5 million to build the first human total-body PET scanner, in part due to critical supporting data from Berg’s research. A prototype scanner for animal imaging developed by Berg has already been used by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and has now been deployed to the California National Primate Research Center.
Berg is currently a postdoctoral scholar in Professor Cherry’s research group where he continues to develop imaging applications for the group’s non-human primate scanner.
This is the second year in a row that a biomedical engineering student has won the Munir Award. In 2016, Jeni Lee received he award for her dissertation, “Bioactive and Mechanical Stimuli for Engineering Neocartilage with Native Tissue-like Tensile Properties.”