Cyclotron Facility

Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology (MIR) Cyclotron Facility can trace its roots to 1938 when Arthur L. Hughes suggested to Chancellor Throop that the university build the first cyclotron dedicated to producing isotopes for medical and biological research. Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and completed in 1941, the cyclotron facility was located on the Washington University (WU) main campus. In March 1942, the cyclotron facility established a precedent, producing P-32 -- a radioisotope for a medical research laboratory.

The progressive atmosphere was continued at the WU Medical School, and in 1963 MIR installed the first medical cyclotron in the United States under the direction of Michel Ter-Pogossian. During his tenure, Ter-Pogossian developed a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanner, which is an imaging modality using PET radionuclides.

In 1967, Michael J. Welch, a radiochemist, was recruited by Ter-Pogossian to develop radioisotopes and novel tracers to enable PET medical imaging. Under Welch's direction, the cyclotron facility's capacity grew, supporting the ongoing role of producing radioisotopes, radiotracers and radiopharmaceuticals for the research PET community. With grant support from the National Cancer Institute, Welch also established the cyclotron facility as a research resource that supported research both at Washington University and the PET community, by supplying high quality radionuclides, such as Cu-64 and Zr-89, which were not readily available. 

In 2006, Robert H. Mach became the Cyclotron Facility administrator and was responsible for a rapid growth in tracer development that continues today under the direction of Zhude Tu (Will). Since 2007, the facility has undergone three expansions -- the most significant was completed in March 2014. This $12 million expansion includes a double vault, which will house an Advanced Cyclotron System TR-19 cyclotron with 19MeV variable energy. This cyclotron is also equipped with a 200 A proton with beam line. It was purchased with a $2 million high-end instrumentation grant from the National Institutes of Health. This final expansion allows the cyclotron facility to increase its role in collaborative efforts in tracer development and translation opportunities available in PET radioisotope production. Overall, the expansion has enabled the cyclotron facility to fulfill its mission.