Edward J. Hoffman, 62, UCLA professor of nuclear medicine who with Michael E. Phelps invented the positron emission tomography (PET) scanner, which helps detect cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses, died July 1 at UCLA Medical Center of liver cancer.
Born in St. Louis, Hoffman earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry at St. Louis University and a doctorate in nuclear chemistry at Washington University in St. Louis. He began working with Phelps at Washington University in the early 1970s and continued their teamwork at the University of Pennsylvania and from 1976 on in UCLA's departments of molecular and medical pharmacology and radiological sciences.
In 1974, Hoffman and Phelps developed PET, an imaging system that provides the means to watch and measure biochemical processes in the human body. By tracing glucose-mimicking molecules injected into the patient, the PET scanner can spot cancers, which consume glucose.
Hoffman's co-invention and refinements to the PET scan, in wide use by the 1990s, earned him the Medical Imaging Scientist Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in 2002. Last year he was elected president of the institute's Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society.