Day 30 review

The potential for research and development in nuclear medicine and radiopharmaceutical manufacturing, as well as the opportunities for education and employment in the sector, were covered in today’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission.

Experts from within the science field were the first witnesses. Director of the Molecular Imaging and Therapy Research Unit at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) Prab Takhar has expertise in medical research and development in both the private and public sectors. He has been involved in the start-up of global radiopharmaceutical facilities and has extensive knowledge in operating procedures for PET, SPECT, cyclotrons and radiopharmaceuticals. He has been in South Australia for two years developing diagnosis and soon treatment agents for the State and Australia. He covered:

  • Current trends in demand for medical isotopes in South Australia, Australia and the wider region
  • Potential future opportunities for South Australia in the radiopharmaceuticals market
  • Advantages and challenges to realising such opportunities in South Australia
  • Development of therapies for disease using targeting molecules carrying specific isotopes.

Mr Takhar appeared with Eva Bezak, Professor in Medical Radiation in the School of Health Science at the University of South Australia. Professor Bezak’s research focuses on novel diagnostic and therapeutic radioisotopes and techniques involved in the treatment of cancers. She is currently appointed a member on the South Australian Radiation Protection Committee. Her evidence covered:

  • Potential future opportunities in nuclear medicine for South Australia
  • Advantages and challenges to realising such opportunities in South Australia

Mr Marco Baccanti, Chief Executive of Health Industries SA, then appeared to provide an overview of current developments in South Australia’s health sector. He addressed:

  • The potential markets for medical radioisotopes manufactured at the SAHMRI cyclotron and the education or training of operators of cyclotrons
  • How potential opportunities in these markets might be realised in South Australia.

The final witness for the morning was Shaun Jenkinson, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). ANSTO manufactures radiopharmaceuticals through its business arm, ANSTO Health. Nuclear medicines are widely used diagnostic imaging and increasingly as therapeutics. Mr Jenkinson has a degree in Biotechnology and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He has 20 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry and more recently, durable medical equipment and medical devices. He provided evidence on:

  • ANSTO’s current production of radiopharmaceuticals and the market it supplies
  • Potential future opportunities for the manufacture of specific diagnostic or therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals

The final witnesses provided evidence from the Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute, the leading centre for higher learning in nuclear science and engineering in the UK. Professor Jon Billowes and Dr John Roberts discussed professional development courses for the domestic and international nuclear sector. Jon Billowes is a Professor of Nuclear Physics at the University of Manchester where he is Head of the Nuclear Physics Group. He served as the Director of

Education at the Dalton Nuclear Institute during its formative years. Professor Billowes holds a DPhil in Nuclear Physics and an MA in Physics. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and a Member of the UK Nuclear Institute. Dr John Roberts is a Nuclear Fellow in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester. He is also a Visiting Academic at the Imperial College London and an External Examiner at the University of Central Lancashire in the area of Nuclear Safety, Security and Safeguards. He was previously a Nuclear Fellow at the Dalton Nuclear Institute. Dr Roberts holds a PhD in Nuclear Physics and a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Physics. Over the past 26 years, he has held multiple Research Fellow and Associate roles at universities across the UK. They covered:

  • Overview of the Dalton Nuclear Institute model and the process for its establishment
  • Key steps in the development of nuclear education and training programs to build a skilled nuclear workforce.

Video and transcripts of each session will be uploaded into the Public Sessions archive.

The next public session is on Friday, December 4, 2015, in the Commission’s office, 50 Grenfell St, Adelaide.

Click here for the topic and witness list for this session which cover Topic 20 – Nuclear education and skills development.