Normally I would not comment on political stories or news items about funding announcements, but I will be making an exception today as this news item not only concerns a major particle accelerator in Canada, but also the facility where I did a significant portion of my own research when I started out as a graduate student. (Which also means I may be a little biased on this particular item :) )

For those of you who are not familiar with this story, last Thursday the prime minister of Canada visited the TRIUMF facility to announce the funding of a new addition to the particle accelerator, the Institute for Advanced Medical Isotopes (IAMI).

In addition to its multiple scientific studies, the TRIUMF accelerator also produces radioactive isotopes for use in medical procedures, such as radiotherapy for several forms of cancer and tracer materials for various forms of medical imaging. The new IAMI facility will expand on those existing facilities to provide more materials for both medical treatment and further related research projects.

The institute will be located on TRIUMF’s campus, which itself is located just south of the University of British Columbia campus, and will be comprised of an integrated series of labs, which will be centered around one of the most technologically advanced commercial cyclotrons in the world.

Once it is completed, the IAMI will offer many benefits to researchers and to medical practitioners throughout western Canada. It will provide a local supply of several important medical isotopes, including the important imaging isotope 99mTc, as well as enabling Canada to access to the global 99mTc market. This will also permit cancer researchers and cancer patients in British Columbia to have access to leading edge radionuclide therapies, which have been showing promise recently in the treatment of advanced stage metastatic cancers. In addition, many new drug therapies require radiotracers to gauge their effectiveness in treating different diseases, and the IAMI will be able to provide those materials for pharmaceutical research in BC and elsewhere.

Today's announcement will see the federal and provincial governments adding to funds already committed by the BC Cancer Foundation, the University of British Columbia, and TRIUMF, with the final total surpassing 31 million dollars. It is expected that industry and private sector research facilities, as well as individual philanthropists, will add to this total resulting in a fifty-million dollar budget to produce the best facility possible and leading to IAMI being a world class research center. 

This is a major announcement, and will certainly make both British Columbia and Canada world leaders in the rapidly growing field of nuclear medicine. It is a great day for scientists and medical practitioners everywhere, and an even greater day for the thousands of patients whose lives will be saved by the technology being developed at the brand new Institute for Advanced Medical Isotopes!