Robley Evans

evans The defining moment in Robley Evans' career came during his graduate studies at Caltech when his supervisor, Robert Millikan, introduced him to the Los Angeles County Health Officer, Frank Crandall. Crandall was concerned about the hazard to the public from radium-containing patent medicines, many of which were being produced in the Los Angeles area. After graduation, Evans accepted a position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he continued to investigate the subject of radium poisoning. Here, Evans built the first whole body counter to measure radium uptake by the radium dial painters and carried out the first quantitative in-vivo measurements of a radionuclide in the human body. Indeed, the scintillation cameras so common in today's hospitals are direct descendants of his original counter. Evans' studies went well beyond measuring radium in the body: he pioneered investigations into its metabolism, its hazards, and methods for mitigating these hazards. He was primarily responsible for promulgating the first limit on radioactive material in the body, 0.1 uCi of radium-226, a value that served for more than four decades as the benchmark for bone-seeking radionuclides. Not the least of his contributions was the first use, (ca. 1930s) of radioiodine to evaluate thyroid function in humans, which is a technique that stood the test of time and remained, well into the 1980s, one of the most potent diagnostic tools available to physicians. It is no wonder Robley Evans is recognized as one of the founders of the field of Nuclear Medicine.


Robley Evans examining counting tube for C-14 analysis at Massachusetts Institute of Technology ca. 1950. Provided by the MIT Museum.

Thanks to the following group for allowing us to reprint this information:

The Health Physics Society
1313 Dolley Madison Blvd., Suite 402
Mclean, Virginia 22101

Tel: 703-790-1745
Fax: 703-790-2672