Roderic I. Pettigrew

Roderic Ivan Pettigrew, PhD, MD, Board of Trustees, 2022

Roderic Ivan Pettigrew is the Robert A. Welch Professor of Medicine, CEO of Engineering Health (EnHealth) and inaugural dean of the School of Engineering Medicine at Texas A&M University, which offers the ENMED program with Houston Methodist Hospital where he is Adjunct Professor of Nanomedicine and Radiology and Affiliate Member of the Center for RNA Therapeutics. He was the founding Director of the U.S. National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) of the NIH (2002-2017), building it into the signature NIH institute for emerging medical technologies. New programs included the Quantum Grants to fund long-term high impact research to solve major medical or healthcare problems and achieve “medical moonshots,” the HHMI-NIBIB Interfaces Program to develop formal interdisciplinary graduate training programs at universities, and the recent Trailblazer Award to stimulate young investigators to pursue transformative innovations – now a highly sought prestigious award. He established research programs in (1) noninvasive therapies, (2) drug and gene delivery systems, (3) low-cost devices, (4) point-of-care technologies, (5) regenerative medicine, and (6) wireless technologies for healthy independent living and telehealth. With NIBIB as the lead Institute, the biomedical component of the U.S. National Robotics Initiative was developed. Pettigrew also called for the development of cuffless blood pressure technologies as an international grand challenge issued jointly by NIBIB and India’s Department of Science and Technology, stimulating a new field that has seen continued academic and commercial development.

Of note, under Pettigrew’s leadership, NIBIB produced more patents per appropriated dollar than any other institute or federal agency, returning $30 per each $1 invested in research or 3000%. On the 10th anniversary of NIBIB, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution commending the institute for its leadership and “remarkable impact” in improving the nation’s health through technological innovation.

His newest undertaking is EnHealth, the world’s first initiative to holistically integrate engineering into all of the colleges of a university that are a part of the healthcare enterprise. ENMED is the first constituent initiative, creating a new school that integrates engineering into medical training to develop a new kind of innovation-minded physician, or Physicianeer, who invents solutions to healthcare problems. Of note, an invention is required of each ENMED graduate who will earn both M.D. and Engineering Master’s degrees in four years.

Pettigrew’s expertise is in health technologies emerging from the convergence of the life sciences, the physical sciences and engineering. An MIT graduate (Ph.D. ’77) who finished his medical training at UCSD (’83), he is known internationally for his pioneering work involving four-dimensional imaging of the cardiovascular system using magnetic resonance (MRI). His current work is on predictive modeling of coronary atheroma and nanomedical strategies for disease inhibition. He is an editor of the recent book Biomechanics of Coronary Atherosclerotic Plaque: From Model to Patient, the first comprehensive text on this topic. He has been elected to membership in the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Inventors, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences, India. Other awards include the Pierre Galletti Award of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, the Inaugural Gold Medal of the Academy of Radiology Research, the Distinguished Service Medal of the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, the Spirit of the Heart Award of the Association of Black Cardiologists, the Pritzker Distinguished Achievement Award of the Biomedical Engineering Society, the Gold Medal of the Radiological Society of North America, the Arthur M. Bueche Award of the National Academy of Engineering and the Vannevar Bush Award of the U.S. National Science Board.

Current academic and research advisory service includes the Phil and Penny Knight Institute for Accelerating Scientific Impact External Advisory Board, the Stand Up To Cancer Scientific Advisory Board, the Allen Institute Scientific Advisory Board and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Board of Trustees.

Pettigrew is an alumnus of the 1967 International Science and Engineering Fair.

He joined the Society’s Board of Trustees in 2022.