DoE funds Wisconsin institute for medical isotope production

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A public-private project, organized by Morgridge Institute for Research, along with University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wis., the state of Wisconsin, Phoenix Nuclear Labs in Middleton, Wis., and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif., has been awarded a six-month, $500,000 cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DoE) National Nuclear Security Administration to further technologies needed for domestic production of molybdenum-99.

An alternative method to produce molybdenum-99 combines a technology developed by University of Wisconsin-Madison medical physics researcher and current university provost Paul M. DeLuca Jr., PhD, with a process developed at Phoenix Nuclear Labs. The new method does not use highly enriched uranium, does not require a nuclear reactor, uses a "greener" method for production and fits well with the U.S. existing supply chain, said the group.

The announcement of the $500,000 cooperative funding agreement will allow the Morgridge Institute group to immediately begin work to accomplish the early stages of this project. The department has indicated that at the end of the initial award, it may provide follow-on funding (up to $25 million total from the DoE) to support further activities relating to the construction of a medical production facility capable of achieving commercial volumes by December 2013. The Morgridge Institute team's progress during the initial award will be a factor in the department's decision to make any additional awards.

To prepare for the possibility of an additional award, the Morgridge Institute team is establishing Phoenix Medical Isotopes as an operating venture to raise capital, manage the technology development and evaluate potential construction sites.