David R. Piwnica-Worms


Department of Cancer Systems Imaging MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX


Chair and Professor


Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, BS, 1978, Mechanical Engineering
Duke University, Durham, NC, MD, 1984, Medicine
Duke University, Durham, NC, PHD, 1984, Cell Physiology


Tau Beta Pi, Engineering Honor Society, 1977
Medical Scientist Training Program, Predoctoral Fellowship Award, 1978
Alpha Omega, Alpha Medical Honor Society, 1980
Research Scholar, Radiological Society of North America, 1989-1991
Whitaker Research Scholar, Harvard Medical School, 1989-1990
Stauffer Award, Association of University Radiologists, 1990
Award of Merit, Journal of Nuclear Medicine, Society of Nuclear Medicine, Best Basic Science Paper,1992
Established Investigator, The American Heart Association, 1992-1997
Fogarty Distinguished Lectureship, U.S. National Institutes of Health, Nuclear Medicine Division, 1993
Award of Merit, Journal of Nuclear Medicine, Society of Nuclear Medicine, Overall Excellence Paper,1995
Annual Wendell G. Scott Lecture, Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, St. Louis, MO, 2001
Pfahler Memorial Lecturer, Philadelphia Roentgen Ray Society, 2001
Annual Moreton Memorial Lecture, American College of Radiology, Miami, FL, 2002
Recognition for Excellence in Mentoring Award, Graduate Student Senate, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, 2002-2004
Annual John Doppman Memorial Lecture, U.S. National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, Bethesda, MD, 2004
Lifetime Achievement Award, Society for Molecular Imaging, 2005
President's Distinguished Lecturer, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 2005
J. Buren Sidbury Distinguished Lecturer, Duke University Medical School, Durham, NC, 2006
Chandran Distinguished Lecturer, Duke University, Pratt School of Engineering, Durham, NC, 2007
National Cancer Policy Forum Speaker, Institute of Medicine, The National Academics, Washington, DC, 2007
Distinguished Alumnus Award, Duke University Medical School, Durham, NC, 2008
Distinguished Alumnus Award, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Department of Radiology, Boston, MA, 2009
Louis V. Avioli Bone Research Seminar, Washington University Medical School, St. Louis, MO,2009
The Alfred P. Fishman Lecture, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, 2010
The Chauncey Leake Lectureship, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, 2011
Elected Fellow, World Molecular Imaging Society, 2012
Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2014
Elected Member, National Academy of Medicine, 2014
Elected Member, Texas Academy of Medicine, Engineering, Science and Technology, 2014
Faculty STARS, Science and Technology Acquisition and Retention Award, University of Texas,2014
Joseph D. Bast Keynote Lecture, University of Kansas, 2015
President's Award, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 2015


The tools of molecular imaging can provide spatially- and temporally-resolved information on biological structures and functions. Because investigators have increasingly recognized the importance of context in the study of gene expression and protein function as well as understanding regulatory mechanisms within cellular micro-environments, many have turned to non-invasive imaging technologies to advance research on human health and disease. These non-invasive imaging strategies can interrogate protein processing, protein-protein interactions, gene expression and flux through metabolic pathways in real-time in cells and live animals, and are increasingly useful in understanding signal transduction and pathobiology of human diseases, including cancer, to facilitate development of effective therapies. His group has used these approaches to investigate mechanisms of regulation of IkB/NFkB signaling, b -catenin processing, multidrug resistance, EGFR signaling, and innate immunity. They have developed high fidelity molecular-specific pharmacodynamic reporters of several anti-cancer drugs useful in whole animal models. They have created a widely-used luciferase protein fragment complementation platform, dual-color protein interaction switches, and fusion reporters for bioluminescent analysis of protein processing in living animals, each with broad applications in biotechnology and biomedicine. By making these constructs and methods freely available, the team helped catalyze the application of genetically-encoded molecular imaging approaches to diverse medical and basic biological questions in a variety of fields. On other fronts, Piwnica-Worm’s group has moved several of their scientific discoveries from bench to bedside, facilitating the goals of precision medicine by translating novel PET tracers and cell-penetrating activatable peptides toward clinical imaging applications.


List of Published Work in