History of the Department

The University of Wisconsin – Madison Department of Radiology has a rich history of innovating the field of radiology. The Department began from humble beginnings on May 18, 1927, when the Board of Regents appointed Dr. Ernst Pohle as the first professor of radiology. Since then, we have grown to 125 faculty members and 11 sections. Learn more about the previous chairs and milestones below:

Past Chairs

1928-1957 – Ernst Pohle, MD
1957-1964 – Lester W. Paul, MD
1964-1976 – John H. Juhl, MD
1976 – 1981 – Francis F. Ruzicka, MD
1981 – 1995 – Joseph F. Sackett, MD
1995-2005 – Patrick Turski, MD
2005-present – Thomas M. Grist, MD


1910 – First Reference to Radiology at UW – Madison
First reference to radiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is a paper entitled “A Paper On the Action of X-rays on Development,” by C.R. Barden.

1927 – UW Board of Regents appoints Ernst Pohle as UW’s first Professor of Radiology
The German-born Pohle came to the U.S. in 1923, and after stints at Mt. Sinai in Cleveland and the University of Michigan, took charge of UW’s Department of Radiology. A prototype physician-scientist, Dr. Pohle was primarily interested in the use of radium and x-ray therapy in the treatment of cancer.

1951 – Dedication of “Cancer Research Hospital,” Including a State-of-the-Art X-ray Therapy Unit
Located in a new C wing of the Wisconsin General Hospital, the new Cancer Research Hospital included a million-volt GE x-ray therapy unit—the first of its kind in Wisconsin. The unit itself weighed over two tons, and was placed in a custom built treatment room with 18″ thick walls.

1959 – John Juhl and Lester Paul Create Groundbreaking Textbook
“The Essentials of Roentgen Interpretation” is published, authored by John Juhl and Lester Paul. The all-inclusive radiology textbook was quickly established as a unique and first rate compendium of the field.

1963 – John Cameron Pioneers Two New Techniques
In the span of just one year, Professor John Cameron, Ph.D. solved two important challenges to research: dosimetry and measuring bone density. First, he successfully measured dose of radiation administered to a University Hospitals patient, using a technique called thermoluminescent dosimetry (TLD). Second, he invented a technique for measuring bone density, used in the diagnosis of osteoporosis. Cameron applied a small beam of radiation to the bone and measured the photons that passed through with a detector.

1964 – Andrew Crummy Innovates On Arrival
Upon his arrival at UW, Andrew B.Crummy, M.D., FSIR, wasted no time in introducing cutting-edge arteriogram techniques to cardiovascular and neuroradiology, in addition to championing ultrasound as a diagnostic tool.

1977 – Joseph Sackett Revolutionizes Spine Imaging with Introduction of Metrizamide
Joseph Sackett, M.D., FACR, was the first radiologist in North America to use metrizamide as a contrast agent for spine imaging. His landmark 1977 paper demonstrated the safety and efficacy of metrizamide, a vast improvement over the previous oil-based agent. In fact, modern-day metrizamide techniques are still based on Dr. Sackett’s research.

1979 – Move to Clinical Sciences Center
Hamstrung by a lack of space and resources, UW Radiology’s campaign for improved facilities came to fruition in 1979, when they moved across campus to the new Clinical Sciences Center. Department leaders were faced with the challenge of moving over two hundred patients from 1300 University Avenue to their new home at the CSC. After much deliberation, they devised a strategy. Using a convoy of eight appropriately equipped moving vans, they successfully transferred all two hundred patients in just under four hours.

1981 –The Department of Medical Physics Becomes Their Own Department
The Department of Medical Physics splits off as an independent department at UW School of Medicine and Public Health, becoming the first department of medical physics in the U.S.

1981 – Digital Subtraction Angiography Unveiled
After nearly a decade of collaboration between Charles Mistretta, PhD and Andrew Crummy, MD, FSIR, the first commercial prototype of a digital subtraction angiography (DSA) instrument was unveiled at the 1981 Radiological Society of North America meeting in Dallas. Soon, Mistretta and his departmental colleagues were in extreme demand all across the globe to explain and demonstrate the capabilities of DSA.

1984 – First On-Campus MRI Revolutionizes Soft Tissue Imaging
With the introduction of the first on-campus MRI machine, UW scientists and physicians were able to image soft tissue in exquisite detail, and do so safely, with no ionizing radiation.

1988 – Mistretta’s Team Develops 3D TRICKS
3D TRICKS (time-resolved imaging of contrast kinetics) is an improved version of time-resolved MR angiography and remains the preferred commercial method to this day.

1995—Tumor Ablation Lab Founded
After finding that the current ablation technology was underpowered and ineffective, radiologist Robert Turrel, MD, and then-Professor of Imaging Sciences Fred T. Lee, Jr, MD, founded the Tumor Ablation Lab. The lab developed microwave ablation technology from the ground up, with the assistance of Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Daniel van der Weide, PhD, and then-students Christopher Brace, Ph.D., and Paul Laeseke, MD, PhD. No microwave ablation equipment existed at UW, forcing the group to improvise with items including WWII-era hand guides, homebuilt After several years of testing and improving the device, Lee, van der Weide, Brace, and Laeseke licensed the device through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, allowing them to offer the treatment to patients.

2002 – Tomotherapy Provides CT-Guided Highly Controlled Radiation Dose Delivery
Department of Medical Physics Professor Thomas Rockwell “Rock” Mackie, PhD, develops Tomotherapy, a vanguard of modern image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT). Introduced commercially in 2007, Tomotherapy is now in clinical use at more than 500 sites worldwide.

2004—First Human Trial of Innovative Cancer Agent
The first patient was dosed with NM404, a cancer therapy agent developed by Jamey Weichert, PhD.The agent has demonstrated tumor uptake in over 50 types of cancer, and can be used for both diagnostic and therapeutic applications. The molecule is currently in the late stages of development at Cellectar Biosciences, a Madison-based startup founded by UW radiologists including Drs. Weichert and Fred T. Lee, Jr.

2010 – Grand Opening of Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research (WIMR) and the WIMR Imaging Science Center
WIMR is designed to foster cross-discipline research and to support bringing new developments from the lab bench to the bedside. It has provided a stable home for the UW Carbone Cancer Center, and created new collaborations between the Departments of Radiology and Medical Physics and many facets of the School of Medicine and Public Health.

2014 – Commercial introduction of 4D DSA
Drs. Mistretta and Strother return to X-ray DSA work to provide a time series of 3D images, improving image frame rate and catheter tracking.

2014 – UW Partners with GE Healthcare to Create Low-Dose CT Protocols
Led by Dr. Myron Pozniak, MD, the University of Wisconsin has solidified its role as a recognized leader in imaging through the development of new low-dose CT protocols, now being shipped with all GE scanners. These protocols are designed to reduce radiation dose, acquire clinically useful images, and reduce the rate of repeat scans. As a result, clinical departments worldwide can now “image gently and image well.”