The winning article, which has received over 200 citations since its publication in 2004, describes the design and development of GATE – the Geant4 Application for Tomographic Emission. GATE exploits the comprehensive modelling capabilities of the Geant4 package, but adapted specifically for use within nuclear medicine. The result: a modular, scripted toolkit for intuitive configuration of PET and SPECT simulations.

"Our objective was to develop a simulation toolkit that would offer a dedicated Monte Carlo platform for emission tomography," explained Christian Morel, the paper's lead author. "GATE can model source decay kinetics, dead-time and [source or detector] movement, while benefiting from the versatility and support of general-purpose simulation tools."

Morel, currently at the Centre for Particle Physics of Marseille, France, notes that the tool was well received by the nuclear medicine community. "In 2004, the first public release of GATE was the only simulation toolkit dedicated to emission and transmission tomography that could simulate time curves and model clinical and preclinical imaging systems accurately," he said. "I think that its ease of use provided by scripted commands, as well as emerging support from a growing users community, made it rapidly popular."

Today, GATE has more than a thousand registered users. The OpenGATE collaboration, which currently hosts 22 laboratories from Europe, USA, South Korea and Chile, continues to improve and maintain GATE, in particular to ensure regular follow-up to new versions of Geant4. "A new important release of GATE (version 6) will be issued by the end of this year, with significant improvements in the rapidity of software execution and an opening to the fields of hadron therapy and dosimetry," Morel added.

The PMB citations prize was marked with the presentation of the Rotblat medal to Morel. The medal, named in honour of Professor Sir Joseph Rotblat (PMB's second and longest serving editor), was awarded at a recent OpenGATE meeting in Orsay, France.

"As a custodian for the authors of this publication on GATE, I feel deeply honoured to receive the 2009 Rotblat Medal," Morel told medicalphysicsweb. "I am particularly proud of, and grateful to, all the members of the OpenGATE collaboration, who dared risk this adventure, though without specific funding at the start. Their outstanding dedication to the project and unfailing team spirit allowed it to become the success we now know."

The winner of the 2009 Physics in Medicine & Biology (PMB) Citations Prize is: GATE: a simulation toolkit for PET and SPECT S Jan, G Santin, D Strul, S Staelens, K Assié, D Autret, S Avner, R Barbier, M Bardiès, P M Bloomfield, D Brasse, V Breton, P Bruyndonckx, I Buvat, A F Chatziioannou, Y Choi, Y H Chung, C Comtat, D Donnarieix, L Ferrer, S J Glick, C J Groiselle, D Guez, P-F Honore, S Kerhoas-Cavata, A S Kirov, V Kohli, M Koole, M Krieguer, D J van der Laan, F Lamare, G Largeron, C Lartizien, D Lazaro, M C Maas, L Maigne, F Mayet, F Melot, C Merheb, E Pennacchio, J Perez, U Pietrzyk, F R Rannou, M Rey, D R Schaart, C R Schmidtlein, L Simon, T Y Song, J-M Vieira, D Visvikis, R Van de Walle, E Wieërs and C Morel 2004 Phys. Med. Biol. 49 4543