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Hailed throughout the world as a pioneer in MR imaging and computed body tomography, Joseph K. T. Lee, MD, has steered historic advances in the evolution of quantitative abdominal imaging.

“Joe is a remarkable individual, and his contributions to the field of abdominal imaging are legendary,” said RSNA President Matthew A. Mauro, MD. “He has served as a mentor, boss, colleague and
friend for over four decades as he pioneered the development of abdominal CT and MRI and transformed the Department of Radiology at UNC.”

Dr. Lee is professor emeritus and past chair of the Department of Radiology at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. He practiced both at UNC and at the National University Hospital of Singapore until March 2022.

Born in Shanghai, Dr. Lee earned his medical degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 1973. He completed his residency in diagnostic radiology at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, and he was promoted to full professorship at the Institute in 1986. While at Mallinckrodt, Dr. Lee directed the Magnetic Resonance Imaging Section and co-directed the Computed Body Tomography Section. In 1984, he became the first radiologist to demonstrate the potential of proton spectroscopic imaging—the Dixon method—for quantifying hepatic fat fraction, diagnosing geographic fatty infiltration and distinguishing focal infiltration from hepatic metastases. As principal investigator, Dr. Lee led a series of landmark studies during this period, exploring the efficacy of numerous new contrast agents.

He lent his expertise to the editorial staff of multiple peer-reviewed journals, including Topics in Magnetic Resonance Imaging and the Journal of Clinical Ultrasound. He served as associate editor of magnetic resonance imaging for Radiology from 1986 to 1988 and as a consultant to the editor from 1988 to 1992.

Dr. Lee has published a series of award-winning abstracts, earning accolades from organizations including the American Roentgen Ray Society, the Society of Computed Body Tomography, and RSNA.

A global leader in radiology, Dr. Lee has been recognized for his outstanding contributions to research and clinical care by multiple international organizations, including being honored with gold medals from the Asian Oceanian Society of Radiology, American Roentgen Ray Society and Society of Computed Body Tomography and Magnetic Resonance Imaging. He holds honorary membership from the Korean Society of Radiology, the Japanese Radiological Society, and the Chinese Society of Radiology.

The author and editor of more than 170 scientific papers, 34 book chapters, and seven books, Dr. Lee authored the groundbreaking 1982 textbook Computed Body Tomography, which delivered cutting-edge applications of body CT to practicing radiologists around the globe. The fourth edition, Computed Body Tomography with MRI Correlation, was published in 2006.

Dr. Lee is a beloved teacher. He is a two-time recipient of the UNC Resident Teaching Award, and he received the highest scores for teaching from residents for several consecutive years at the National University Hospital of Singapore.

The first Asian American to serve as president of the American Roentgen Ray Society in its 123-year history, Dr. Lee also served the American College of Radiology’s Board of Chancellors. At RSNA, he served on the Radiology editorial board, as chair of the genitourinary subcommittee of the Scientific Program Committee, and as first vice president from 2006 to 2007.

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