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UPMC Cardiologist Receives Career Development Award From The American College Of Cardiology


Research will combine the use of SPECT and CT imaging to more accurately diagnose heart disease

PITTSBURGH, April 14, 2006 — Prem Soman, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and assistant director of nuclear cardiology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s (UPMC) Cardiovascular Institute, has been awarded the 2006 American College of Cardiology Foundation/GE Healthcare Career Development Award in Cardiovascular Imaging. The research award was announced at the convocation ceremony during the recent 55 th Annual Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology in Atlanta.

Dr. Soman, who also is director of nuclear cardiology research at the UPMC Cardiovascular Institute, was honored for “ Feasibility of Integrated Cardiac Imaging Using Separate Gantry SPECT and CT Systems.” Dr. Soman’s research is focused on noninvasive imaging of the heart with radionuclide techniques and echocardiography. He has co-authored several articles and book chapters in the field, including a widely adopted position paper on the cost-effectiveness of myocardial perfusion imaging for the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology.

In nuclear cardiology imaging, the patient is injected intravenously with a drug containing small amounts of a radioactive tracer to help cardiologists better evaluate blood flow to the heart, both during stress testing, and at rest. The nuclear camera then picks up the radioactive tracer and produces detailed images of the functioning heart to detect where blood flow has slowed in the coronary arteries.

CT imaging is another noninvasive procedure that also can diagnose heart disease. However, rather than providing moving images of the functioning heart, CT imaging provides frozen, cross section images of the anatomy of the heart and coronary arteries. The test is performed with the patient lying on a table attached to the CT scanner. Electrodes are attached to the patient and connected to an EKG machine to record the electrical activity of the heart.

Dr. Soman’s research will use a combination of both SPECT and CT imaging in order to more accurately diagnose heart disease at earlier stages. “While there already are combined SPECT/CT machines out there, they are enormously expensive. Here at the UPMC Cardiovascular Institute’s advanced imaging center, we already have access to both machines. My goal is to get patients tested on both devices on the same day and combine the information obtained. By merging the use of these technologies, we can better identify which patients can be treated through medication, and which patients need to be referred to more invasive testing such as cardiac catheterization,” says Dr. Soman.

“ As cardiologists, we always are looking for superior treatment modalities to diagnose coronary artery disease. The field of nuclear cardiology, in particular, has the potential to offer one of the best cost-effective and less invasive treatments for patients. Dr. Soman’s enthusiasm as a researcher is an asset to our nuclear cardiology division and I am proud that he has received this prestigious career development award, which will enable him to provide advanced medical care for our patients,” said William P. Follansbee, M.D., F.A.C.C., professor of medicine and radiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and director of nuclear cardiology at the UPMC Cardiovascular Institute.

Dr. Soman obtained his medical degree in India. He then trained in clinical cardiology and cardiovascular research at the Northwick Park Hospital and Institute of Medical Research in London, and subsequently at the New England Medical Center, Tufts University, Boston. While in England, he was awarded a Ph.D., and the diploma of the Royal College of Physicians, London. He also is board certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiology and Nuclear Cardiology by the American Boards.

The UPMC Cardiovascular Institute’s advanced cardiac imaging program in the nuclear cardiology department is among the most technologically advanced and experienced facilities in the world for nuclear cardiology. The nuclear cardiology laboratory is host to the only myocardial SPECT perfusion imaging preceptorship in the United States, a specialized and advanced imaging course for nuclear cardiologists, cardiology fellows and radiologists, led by director Dr. Follansbee. The nuclear cardiology laboratory also is certified by the Intersocietal Commission for Accreditation of Nuclear Cardiology Laboratories.

More information about the UPMC Cardiovascular Institute, including advanced imaging for heart disease, is available at


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