News Release

Michael J. Evans, Ph.D., receives SNMMI Sam Gambhir Trailblazer Award

Grant and Award Announcement

Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging

Michael J. Evans, PhD


Michael J. Evans, PhD, receives SNMMI Sam Gambhir Trailblazer Award.

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Credit: Image courtesy of SNMMI.

Toronto, Ontario—Michael J. Evans, PhD, a chemical biologist known for his innovative approaches to imaging and treating a diverse array of diseases, has been named the 2024 recipient of the prestigious Sam Gambhir Trailblazer Award. The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) presented the award to Evans at its Annual Meeting in Toronto, recognizing his exceptional contributions to the field.

Evans, a Professor in the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at the University of California San Francisco, was honored for his groundbreaking work in biomarker discovery and radiopharmaceutical development. His research has led to the translation of several novel radiopharmaceuticals into clinical use, including 11C-YJH08 (targeting the glucocorticoid receptor), 64Cu-GRIP B (targeting granzyme B), and 18F-TRX (targeting ferrous iron). Evans has also pioneered new chemical strategies to expand the therapeutic window for targeted radiotherapies.

“I am honored and humbled to receive the 2024 Sam Gambhir Trailblazer Award,” said Evans. “I aspire to emulate his remarkable accomplishments as a scientist and mentor. I’m grateful to the many exceptional colleagues and collaborators that I have been able to partner with throughout my career. I look forward to continuing our efforts to advance nuclear medicine and make a meaningful impact on patient care worldwide.”

Evans earned his BA in Chemistry from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and obtained his PhD in Organic Chemistry from The Scripps Research Institute under Professor Benjamin Cravatt. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Molecular Imaging at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center under Professors Charles Sawyers and Jason Lewis.

Evans has published more than 90 peer-reviewed articles and is a co-inventor on 13 patents pending or issued. His honors include the 2012 Pathway to Independence Award from the National Cancer Institute, the 2013 David H. Koch Young Investigator Award from the Prostate Cancer Foundation, a 2017 Research Scholar Award from the American Cancer Society, and the 2023 Roger Tsien Award for Excellence in Chemical Biology from the World Molecular Imaging Society. He was also inducted into the 2020 class of the Council of Distinguished Investigators by the Academy of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging Research.

In addition to his academic achievements, Evans has co-founded, consulted, and/or served on the scientific advisory board of several biotech companies, for example, ORIC Pharmaceuticals, Enlaza Therapeutics, and HoneyBear Biosciences.

“Dr. Evans epitomizes the spirit of innovation and excellence that the Sam Gambhir Trailblazer Award represents,” noted SNMMI President Helen Nadel, MD, FRCPC, FSNMMI. “His groundbreaking work in biomarker discovery and radiopharmaceutical development has not only advanced the field of nuclear medicine but has also translated into tangible clinical applications, offering new hope for patients battling diseases such as cancer and depression.”

The Sam Gambhir Trailblazer Award was created in memory of Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, MD, PhD, an internationally recognized pioneer in molecular imaging who passed away in 2021. Created in 2022, the award honors outstanding achievement in excellence in transformative research (either basic science, translational science, or clinical science) and exceptional mentorship for mid-career professionals.


About the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging

The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) is an international scientific and medical organization dedicated to advancing nuclear medicine and molecular imaging, vital elements of precision medicine that allow diagnosis and treatment to be tailored to individual patients in order to achieve the best possible outcomes.

SNMMI’s members set the standard for molecular imaging and nuclear medicine practice by creating guidelines, sharing information through journals and meetings and leading advocacy on key issues that affect molecular imaging and therapy research and practice. For more information, visit

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