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Kabalka at his retirement party in April.
Kabalka at his retirement party in April. (Source: Department of Chemistry)

George Kabalka, a chemistry professor whose research has helped in the advancement of imaging techniques used in the medical field, will retire from UT after a forty-six-year career.

Kabalka, who will retire June 30, was feted recently by colleagues during a reception at Club LeConte.

Kabalka joined the Department of Chemistry in 1970 after obtaining a doctorate from Purdue University under the guidance of a Nobel laureate and Professor Herbert C. Brown.

For more than thirty years, Kabalka also served as professor of radiology for the UT Health Science Center in Memphis and director of research in the Department of Radiology at UT Medical Center in Knoxville.

He trained many physicians, postdoctoral associates, and doctoral students in radiochemistry and the design of nuclear medicine imaging agents. During his tenure at the hospital, he helped developed a number of new PET and MRI imaging agents that were successfully used in animal studies. Two of his team’s discoveries were evaluated in human cancer patients with some success.

“UT was at the forefront of PET and MRI in the US in the late 1980s and it was an exciting time to be carrying out imaging research,” Kabalka said. “I traveled the world giving lectures on our studies.”

As professor emeritus of chemistry, Kabalka plans to work in the department on a weekly basis, keep serving on a number of editorial boards and advisory committees, and continue writing manuscripts. He also will continue research collaborations with two of his former postdoctoral associates who constitute the radiopharmaceutical research group in the Graduate School of Medicine, where he has an office and interacts with researchers on a weekly basis.

Kabalka plans to spend more time with his family and five grandsons, who all live within two hours of Knoxville, continue travels—he’s working on three million Delta miles at the moment—and spend more time on his hobby of rebuilding vintage cars.

Read more about Kabalka on the Department of Chemistry website.