As Canadian universities and hospitals continue to outfit themselves with the technology to work with radioisotopes for research or medical activities, there will be an ongoing demand for the expertise to carry out this work. To this end, the University of British Columbia has received a $1.65 million grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) to educate the next generation of scientists with such needed skills.

“This is a growing field,” says Reiner Kruecken, a UBC physics professor who also heads up the scientific division of the major cyclotron facility TRIUMF. “You can train people to run these machines, but what you need are people who can develop new ideas for isotopes.”

Kreucken spearheaded a request to NSERC’s Collaborative Research and Training Experience Program (CREATE), which is providing the funding to establish the Isotopes for Science and Medicine (ISOSIM) program led by TRIUMF and UBC. He anticipates that graduate students and post-doctoral scholars will acquire the knowledge and experience to take part in pure science endeavours such as nuclear physics as well as industrial pursuits like medical diagnostics, pharmaceutical manufacture and electronics.

ISOSIM also builds on strong links to isotope work in Germany and program participants will be invited to travel to different facilities at the forefront of these fields. “We have everything from accelerators to the medical and environmental areas,” says Kreucken. “CREATE is the vehicle to do that.”

The CREATE grant supporting ISOSIM is one of nine across the country that were announced by NSERC this spring. UBC also received another one of these $1.65 million grants for a separate proposal to launch a training program in Nanomaterials Science and Technology, which will be led by chemistry professor Mark MacLachlan.