Prior to his appointment at the NIH, Dr. Pettigrew was Professor of Radiology, Medicine (Cardiology) at Emory University and Bioengineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Director of the Emory Center for MR Research, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia. He is known internationally for his pioneering work at Emory University involving four-dimensional imaging of the cardiovascular system using magnetic resonance (MRI). His current research focuses on integrated imaging and predictive biomechanical modeling of coronary atherosclerotic disease.
Early on at the NIBIB he jointly led a national effort with Howard Hughes Medical Institute to create new interdisciplinary graduate training programs, and also established the Quantum Projects program to achieve “medical moon shots” by pursuing high-risk, high-impact projects designed to solve major healthcare problems. Under Dr. Pettigrew’s leadership, national collaborative and international initiatives have been issued to develop low cost and point-of-care medical technologies and at present, he leads an effort to reduce CT radiation dose to background levels. He has also recently called for a US-India collaboration to develop unobtrusive technologies for frequent recording of blood pressure to address the world wide problem of hypertension.
Dr. Pettigrew has been elected to membership in two components of the US National Academies: the Institute of Medicine, and the National Academy of Engineering. His awards include Phi Beta Kappa, the Bennie Award, Most Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Miami (1990), Herbert Nickens Award of the ABC, Pritzker Distinguished Achievement Award of the Biomedical Engineering Society, Distinguished Service Award of the National Medical Association, the Pierre Galletti Award of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, and the Inaugural Gold Medal Award of the Academy of Radiology Research.