Medical scientist Dr. Roderic I. Pettigrew was born on March 26, 1951 in Albany, Georgia to Edwina Phinazee and Dr. Cleveland William Pettigrew. Pettigrew received his M.S. degree in nuclear science and engineering from Morehouse College in 1972, his M.S. degree in nuclear science and engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1972, his Ph.D. degree in applied radiation physics from the Massachusetts Institutes of Technology in 1977, and his M.D. degree from the University of Miami School of Medicine in 1979.
In 1980, Pettigrew interned and completed his residency at Emory University. He did an additional residency in nuclear medicine at the University of California, San Diego. In 1983, Pettigrew joined Picker International as a clinical research scientist, where he developed the company’s first commercial cardiac imaging technology. In 1984, he joined Emory University School of Medicine as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Fellow where his work centered on non-invasive cardiac imaging. Pettigrew was promoted to associate professor of radiology with tenure in 1990, professor of radiology in 1996, and professor of cardiology in 2000. He also served as director of the Frederik Philips Magnetic Resonance Research Center in 1994 and director of the Emory Center for MR Research in 1999. Pettigrew’s work at Emory University centered around four-dimensional imaging of the cardiovascular system using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Pettigrew was appointed founding director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2002. During his tenure, Pettigrew served on numerous NIH committees, including the ethics advisory committee from 2005 to 2015, the director’s steering committee from 2006 to 2014, as chair of the information and technology working group from 2007 to 2013, and the scientific management review board from 2011 to 2016. From 2012 to 2014, Pettigrew served as acting chief officer for scientific workforce diversity at the National Institutes of Health. In 2017, he stepped down as director of NIBIB to serve as chief executive officer of EnHealth and executive dean for EnMed at Texas A&M University.
Pettigrew served on numerous boards, including the American Heart Association from 1994 to 2000 and the Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance from 1998 to 2001. In 2003, he was elected chair of the National Advisory Council on Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.
Pettigrew was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2007, and to the National Academy of Engineering in 2010. In 2012, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution in honor of Pettigrew’s accomplishments with the NIBIB; and, in 2016, he was elected to the Foreign Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences India (NASI). His awards include the Pierre Galletti Award from the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering in 2013, the Inaugural Gold Medal Award from the Academy of Radiology Research in 2014, and the Gold Medal from the Radiological Society of North America in 2017.
Dr. Roderic I. Pettigrew was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 19, 2019.