Dear Molecular Imaging Community,
It is with a heavy heart that we pay tribute to the memory of Bob Gillies. Bob was a great friend to the World Molecular Imaging Society and one of its founders. He was a gold medal award winner in 2018, the program chair in 2020, and the President in the early years of the society who helped to craft the WMIS Bylaws. He will be very dearly missed.
He had a massive impact on the field, and his contributions spanned nearly all aspects and modalities of imaging, providing fundamental insight into the mechanisms that drive disease and pushing us to think outside the traditional scope of imaging. He was a true visionary who devoted himself to solving some of the most complex problems in molecular imaging.
We had the opportunity to interview him in 2021 about radiomics and his perspectives on the future of this burgeoning field which he was instrumental in creating. Here are some of the highlights of our conversation:
He has left behind not only a profound legacy in the field, but he also leaves us with many fond memories as a friend and colleague. It is with sorrow that we bid farewell to a great leader and friend, yet we celebrate his life and how he shaped our field of molecular imaging.
If you have memories you would like to share please add them to the page below.
A Tribute to Dr. R. J. Gillies from Dr. Natarajan Raghunand and Dr. Zaver M. Bhujwalla
“In a great loss for our field of molecular imaging applied to cancer, and a deep personal loss for many of us around the world working in this field, Dr. Robert J. Gillies passed away on June 7, 2022. To his wife Christine, his daughters Julia and Jessica and their partners, and to his grandchildren, we express our profoundest sorrow for their grievous loss. Dr. Gillies was Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Diagnostic Imaging and Interventional Radiology, the Martin Silbiger Chair of the Department of Cancer Physiology, and Director of the Cancer Imaging and Technology Center of Excellence, at the Moffitt Cancer Center.
Both of us have cherished memories of Bob with friendships and collaborations that have lasted well over these three decades. Both of us are immensely grateful to have had Bob as a collaborator, friend and mentor over these 30 years. NR first met Bob in January 1988, as a fresh grad student at Colorado State University whose mentor, Bruce E. Dale, was collaborating with Bob on optimizing hollow fiber bioreactors for use inside an NMR spectrometer to study the metabolism of mammalian cells. Bob’s great ease in working at the interface of biology, engineering, and physics is exemplified by three papers that he published in a single issue of Biotechnology and Bioengineering in 1988.
ZMB recalls the first time she met Bob at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine around 1990. ‘As a Ph.D. student at the University of London working on tumor pH, I had read and re-read his manuscript on pH regulation in Ehrlich ascites tumor cells published in 1982 that described an alkaline intracellular pH as measured with 31P NMR spectroscopy. As a new postdoctoral fellow, it was wonderful to be able to finally meet him in person and to explain to him how excited I had been to read his paper. Bob was already a well-established faculty member by then and yet he happily and enthusiastically discussed tumor pH with me for a couple of hours. A true sports fan, Bob always joked that the baseball stadium in Baltimore was the reason why he wanted to collaborate. Bob was a great family man. Whenever we met at meetings he would proudly discuss the achievements of his family members, and talk with great delight about his grandchildren.’
A great research scientist, Bob was brilliant and creative, a visionary who forged new paths and mentored others along those paths. He was an extraordinary mentor, always available to discuss new ideas, and an extraordinarily kind human being. Bob was passionate about his research, but with a marvelous sense of humor, and a balanced perspective on science and on life. A true leader, he was a founding member of the World Molecular Imaging Society, serving as its President in its early years, and as Program Chair in 2020. He was honored by the WMIS with a gold medal in 2018. Bob also founded the Cancer MR Study Group of the ISMRM that continues to flourish to this day. Bob’s impact on our field is immeasurable. In addition to his pioneering work on tumor pH regulation, its role in cancer invasion and metastasis, and its use to improve cancer treatment outcome, Bob was a trailblazer in developing new frontiers such as radiomics, tumor habitat imaging, and developing multimeric ligands. Bob is widely recognized as a founding leader in the field of radiomics. In his 2014 plenary talk at the RSNA on the ‘Radiology Reading Room of the Future’ he clearly outlined the future of radiomics in imaging.
We have lost one of the ‘greats’ in our field.”
Dr. Natarajan Raghunand and Dr. Zaver M. Bhujwalla
“We are distressed to learn of the passing away of Professor Robert Gillies. We, in the name of the Chinese Society for Molecular Imaging (CSMI), and in our own names, express our deepest condolences.
Professor Robert Gillies is a brilliant and visionary scientist who has devoted all his life to molecular imaging and Radiomics for the prevention and theranostics of cancer. Not only an enlightenment mentor, a strong supporter, and an open collaborator to the Chinese molecular imaging and radiomics community, he was also our good friend who deserved all our love and respect. His real knowledge, deep insight, and rigorous scientific attitude inspired us as his voice and expression live in our memory.
Professor Robert Gillies’ passion for research, optimistic spirit and scientific contribution live on. The friendship between Bob and CSMI will be remembered forever, which will always encourage us to work together for better human health.
May he rest in peace.”
Fan Wang (CSMI President), Mei Tian (In-coming CSMI President), Jie Tian (CSMI Boardmember),
Chinese Society for Molecular Imaging
“Bob was a great colleague and mentor, and I was extremely fortunate to have him as program chair for WMIC 2020. We will miss you Bob.”
Julie Sutcliffe, PhD
University of California Davis
MD Anderson Cancer Center
Founder and Chief Scientific Advisor, ImaginAB
City of Hope