First Della Pietra Chair of Biomedical Imaging Installed

Stony Brook University Professor Ramin Parsey, MD, PhD, was formally installed as the inaugural holder of the Della Pietra Chair of Biomedical Imaging during a Stony Brook Investiture Ceremony at the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics. The Della Pietra Chair was established in 2013 through the generosity of the Della Pietra family – Barbara Amonson and her husband Vincent Della Pietra, and Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra and her husband Stephen Della Pietra – along with a matching contribution by the Simons Foundation.

“Endowed chairs are lasting tributes to the generous donors who establish them and are a time-honored means of attracting eminent scholars and retaining outstanding faculty at a university,” said Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, President, Stony Brook University. “I am extremely grateful to the Della Pietra family for their significant philanthropic support to Stony Brook to establish this Chair. Dr. Ramin Parsey is a leading scholar in the field of biomedical imaging, adding to Stony Brook’s storied legacy of excellence in imaging research. His dynamic research is advancing biomedical imaging technology, and we are so proud to have him as a member of our faculty.”

One of the primary goals of Stony Brook University’s current $600 million Campaign is to create a total of 100 endowed faculty positions by 2018 to attract more eminent scholars and researchers and retain outstanding faculty across a wide range of disciplines.

“Over the past six years, the number of endowed chairs and professorships at Stony Brook has increased more than seven-fold, to a total of 42 endowed chairs and professorships,” said Dr. Stanley.

“This is an interdisciplinary field that requires collaboration among researchers and clinicians of all specialties,” said Dr. Parsey, Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry, and a Professor of Radiology. “Biomedical imaging will continue to transform medicine, paving the way for improved patient care. It is an incredible honor to be the first Della Pietra Chair of Biomedical Imaging,” added Dr. Parsey, who is also Director of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) research and Co-Director of the Neurosciences Institute at Stony Brook Medicine.

“Biomedical imaging is an exciting synthesis of mathematics, physics and medicine,” said Stephen Dell Pietra, PhD, who manages a research group at Renaissance Technologies. “We are proud to help Stony Brook University become a leader in this new frontier in healthcare. We admire Dr. Parsey’s groundbreaking work and are delighted that he is the Inaugural holder of the chair.”

Vincent Della Pietra, PhD, who also manages a research group at Renaissance, added, “Biomedical imaging is set to evolve quickly in the future. Computing power and algorithms are improving and hardware construction is becoming more efficient, so now is a great time to support the field.”

“We express our profound thanks to the Della Pietra family for their generosity and for sharing our vision on the importance of imaging to advance biomedicine,” said Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, Senior Vice President for the Health Sciences and Dean, Stony Brook University School of Medicine. “We also congratulate Dr. Parsey on this well-deserved honor. In just three years, he has transformed the clinical, educational and research missions of Psychiatry at Stony Brook Medicine.

Dr. Kaushansky added that with Dr. Parsey’s leadership, knowledge, and experience as a ‘biological psychiatrist,’ he and colleagues will use advanced imaging tools to help scientists and physicians better understand the origins of devastating diseases, such as dementia and depression, and help develop novel treatments against these and other diseases.

About Ramin Parsey

Since his arrival at Stony Brook University in August 2012, Dr. Ramin Parsey has collaborated with Dr. Kaushansky and Mark Schweitzer, MD, Chair of Radiology, to establish a research program that will bring the world’s most advanced biomedical imaging technologies to Stony Brook.

The program took a giant leap forward in October 2013 with the opening of the Lisa and Robert Lourie Imaging Suite, which includes a hybrid imaging system that simultaneously records positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data. It is one of the first of its kind in the country.

With the collaboration of biomedical engineer Christine DeLorenzo, PhD, Dr. Parsey established the Center for Understanding Biology using Imaging Technology (CUBIT), which is engaged in several promising studies of the neurobiology of psychiatric and neurological disorders using PET and MRI. With radiochemist Peter Smith-Jones, Ph.D., Dr. Parsey founded the Facility for Experimental Radiopharmaceutical Manufacturing (FERM), which will create radioactive probes to be used to study infectious diseases, cancer and diseases of the heart and brain in tissues, animals and humans.

In 2017, with the opening of a cyclotron in the Medical and Research Translation (MART) Building, the facility will be able to produce radiotracers labeled with carbon-11 and florine-18, expanding the scope of PET research that can be performed at Stony Brook.

In his role as Della Pietra Family Chair of Biomedical Imaging, Dr. Parsey collaborates with scientists throughout the University to advance the University’s various research programs through the application of imaging technologies. His background in biochemistry, biophysics, and medicine positions him to bring together researchers from a variety of disciplines to translate advances in mathematics, computational science, and biology into improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases in humans.

These research endeavors also create educational opportunities for talented high school students, undergraduates and postgraduate students who are interested in biomedical science or technology.

For more about Dr. Parsey and his research interests, the field of Psychiatry, and practicing at Stony Brook, see this Front and Center interview. For more about Dr. Parsey’s expertise in Psychiatry, see his Stony Brook University faculty expert profile.