Lives of the fellows

Wolfgang Stefan Becker

b.7 September 1952 d.18 May 2002
MD Würzburg(1979) PhD(1985) FRCP(1997)

Wolfgang Stefan Becker was a past president of the European Association of Nuclear Medicine. He was born in Uffenheim, Bavaria, Germany, the son of Peter and Gerda Becker. He studied medicine at the University of Würzburg, where he obtained his MD in 1979. In 1985 he moved to Erlangen, where he took up the chair of nuclear medicine at the University of Nüberg-Erlangen. Ten years later, in 1995, he was appointed chairman of the department of nuclear medicine at Georg-August University in Göttingen.

His interests spanned the whole field of nuclear medicine and today he would have also been considered an adviser in molecular imaging. He worked on diverse subjects, including labelled minigastrin, radio-labelled antibodies for the treatment of lymphoma, the relative role of alpha versus beta particles in radio-immunotherapy, and studied kinetic data from in vivo-labelled granulocytes. A Lancet article, written in 2002, reviewed the future of the field.

Wolfgang Becker was also a recognised thyroidologist, providing a phone-in service on the administration of radioactive iodine in cancer and in benign thyroid disease. It was easy to give him a call, to enquire about routine or more complex problems with this therapy. Wolfgang was the expert, always courteous and helpful.

Wolfgang spoke perfect English and he approached his lectures with a strategic vision of the field, replenished with personal data and significant experience. His opinions carried weight - he always spoke sensibly and with knowledge, always keen to help when help was requested. He had a strong empathy toward the international community of physicians and scientists practising nuclear medicine and made many friends worldwide. In 1994 he was asked to develop a continuing medical education (CME) programme in nuclear medicine across Europe, the European School of Nuclear Medicine (ESNM). He undertook the task with enthusiasm with dedication. The ESNM is now a recognised entity in Europe, delivering CME programmes and accreditation across the whole of the EU.

In 1999 he delivered a brilliant highlights lecture at the annual European Association of Nuclear Medicine (EANM) congress in Barcelona. He underlined the potential of nuclear cedicine to treat advanced stages of cancer and referred to the role of the iodine symporter as a basis for gene therapy in a variety of cancers.

In 2000 Wolfgang Becker was elected president of EANM. He took to this important task with great enthusiasm, commencing a significant renovation of the Association and its professional infrastructure. It is largely thanks to him that the present EANM support structure evolved with success. Sadly his term as president was brutally interrupted, when skin cancer took its toll. He died at the early age of 49, leaving his wife Hedi, a son and a daughter.

Peter J Ell

(Volume XII, page web)

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