August 13, 2004

Kessler named to Roentgen radiology professorship

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Robert Kessler, M.D.

Kessler named to Roentgen radiology professorship

Robert Kessler, M.D., has been named the first Roentgen Professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences.

The newly-created, endowed chair was founded within the department, and was named for the Nobel Prize-winning German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, who discovered X-rays.

The chair was created as part of the department’s continuing efforts to bolster research and development and to fuel comprehensive advancements in the PET Center, which is in the division of Nuclear Medicine, said Martin Sandler, M.D., chair of the department.

“We’re very fortunate to have someone of Dr. Kessler’s caliber, who is world-renowned in his field, to be leading in this endeavor,” Sandler said. “And, we’re very much appreciative of the support of Vice Chancellor Harry Jacobson and Dean Steve Gabbe.”

Kessler said he plans to study the role of cortical and limbic dopaminergic neurotransmission in attention deficit disorder, depression, psychostimulant drug abuse, and schizophrenia.

“I feel deeply honored that Vanderbilt would appoint me to this endowed chair,” said Kessler, who is an associate professor of Psychiatry and the director of Molecular Imaging. ”This is a great honor and I am grateful for this recognition.”

Kessler is a graduate of Yale University School of Medicine. After medical school, Kessler served as a Major in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. Prior to joining Vanderbilt in 1984, he worked for the Nuclear Medicine Department of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. where he was the project officer and first director of the NIH PET program.

Kessler joined the department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences at Vanderbilt in 1984 and was responsible for the design and start-up of the Vanderbilt PET Center. His research interests are in the areas of cerebral neurotransmission and energy metabolism and their relationship to psychiatric and neurological disorders.

His most recent studies have examined the role of cortical and limbic dopamine receptors in schizophrenia and antipsychotic drug actions as well as validating new methods for measuring dopamine release in man.

The author or co-author of more than 120 scholarly and scientific publications, Kessler has contributed to many abstracts and has served or is currently serving as journal reviewer for several scholarly publications.

Kessler holds two patents — for “Driven Inversion Spin Echo Magnetic Resonance Imaging” and “Radioiodinated Benzamides and Methods of Their Use as Radioimaging Agents.”

The department is working to identify a permanent benefactor for the chair, according to Sandler, who is the Carol D. and Henry P. Pendergrass Chair in Radiology and Radiological Sciences.