Hermann Blumgart (1895-1977) was an American Jewish physician. He is considered by some as “the father of nuclear medicine” for his work with medical imaging by using small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose and treat a variety of diseases including cancer. Blumgart was the first to use a radiotracer for a diagnostic procedure.
Life and career
Blumgart was born into a Jewish household. He graduated from Harvard University in 1917 and Harvard Medical School in 1921. He was a Harvard medical student working under the physiology pioneer Walter Cannon. At Harvard, he acquired a deep appreciation of the dynamics of physiology. Blumgart was especially interested in the circulation and knew that despite many ingenious attempts, no one had succeeded in measuring circulation time between any 2 points accurately and convincingly. In 1924, he worked as investigator at the Thorndike Laboratories at Boston City Hospital. In 1927, Blumgart and Soma Weiss used Bi214 to measure circulation time from one arm to the other in both normal and abnormal patients. This is the first time a radionuclide was employed in diagnostic medicine. Between 1928 and 1962, he was the physician in chief at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston.
In 1925, Blumgart performed the first diagnostic procedure using radioactive indicators on humans. Blumgart and his coworker Otto C. Yens, then a medical student, developed the first instrumentation used in a diagnostic procedure involving radioactive indicators. The instrumentation, a modified Wilson cloud chamber, turned out to be the detector most suitable for their purpose. The Blumgart-Yens modified cloud chamber is considered the birth of nuclear medicine instrumentation. Blumgart and Yens used bismuth-214 to determine the arm -to- arm circulation time in patients.
In 1989, the Cardiovascular Council presented the Hermann Blumgart Award for outstanding achievement in the field of nuclear cardiology and service to the council. The award is still given to this day.
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