Category Archives: Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear Medicine

Proud to Work for an Organization that Supports Relay for Life

By Alex Wolf
Manager, Research and Education
Canadian Nuclear Association

Hi everyone. It’s Alex here from the CNA with a short, informal post to express my appreciation for our involvement in the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life fundraiser.

Those of you that know me know that I spent the early part of my career as a Radiation Therapist, and spent hours upon hours tending to patients bravely battling through their journey with cancer. Many people have of course gone through this with family and friends as well, and know exactly what I’m talking about. It is a very unique affliction, common to far too many people, and I believe it is a meaningful gesture for people to make time in their lives to recognize the impact this has on so many.

For this reason, I am grateful and proud to be a part of the CNA’s first Relay for Life team. As a tight-knit group of colleagues and friends, we’ll be walking all night as Team WalkNUclear on June 7th from 7pm-7am at Walter Baker Park in Ottawa.

Our connection with the Canadian Cancer Society highlights the role of nuclear research in providing advanced diagnostic and treatment options for optimizing cancer management. As someone who has directly used the tools provided by this research, and seen its patient impact first-hand, I am tremendously thankful to everyone who supports causes like Relay for Life and ensures we continue finding better ways to help people through an otherwise very difficult part of their life.

So thank you to the CNA for letting my job support a cause I believe in, and thank you to everyone who donates or gets involved otherwise.

You can donate to Team WalkNUclear here, if you feel so inclined.

Happy fundraising everyone!


Guest Blog Nuclear Medicine

The Medical Isotopes Supply Chain

Today’s post comes from guest contributor at Nordion.

Nuclear medicine is one of the most powerful analytical tools available to physicians and patients today because of its ability to provide dynamic views of organ structure and function. Medical isotopes are used to diagnose potentially life-threatening conditions such as heart disease and to treat serious diseases such as cancer.

About one million nuclear medicine procedures are performed in Canada annually. In the U.S., there are some 18 million nuclear medicine procedures per year among 311 million people, and in Europe about 10 million among 500 million people. Canada has been one of the global leaders in the supply of medical isotopes to the world’s medical community. Tc-99m is used in about 80% of all diagnostic nuclear imaging procedures.

Medical isotopes have a short shelf life and therefore cannot be inventoried. Before they can be used in patient procedures, the materials used in nuclear medicine are developed through a multi-step supply chain process.

This graphic summarizes the process.


Watch this video to understand how medical isotopes make their complex (but necessarily quick) journey, from reactor to patient:


Nuclear Energy Nuclear Medicine Nuclear Pride Nuclear Safety Uncategorized

Sharing the Nuclear Story with the Distinctive Women of Ottawa

Denise Carpenter, CNA President and CEO, is featured in the premier Ottawa edition of Distinctive Women, a publication from Profiles of Distinction which exists to showcase excellence in its many forms.

At the Distinctive Women photo shoot.

Denise was chosen for profiling based on her strong career and leadership in the energy sector. Coming to the CNA from EPCOR Utilities in Alberta where she transformed the company’s reputation and strategy, Denise has been recognized by Global TV as a Woman of Vision; by the YWCA with a Woman of Distinction Award; and has twice been named one of Alberta’s 50 most influential people by Alberta Venture magazine.

But for Denise, it isn’t about personal accolades. “I look for any opportunity to talk about the many benefits and the daily contributions of nuclear technology in Canada,” says Carpenter. “Too few Canadians are aware of the positive impact this industry has had on our health and quality of life by way of nuclear medicine, reducing carbon emissions from the air we breathe, improving the safety of materials used in our cars, city infrastructure, and even the food we consume. I’m proud to be able to share this with as many people as will listen.”

Check out Denise’s profile in Distinctive Women.

At the photo shoot for Distinctive Women, scouting the perfect location.

Denise is one of many impressive women working in nuclear in Canada. You can meet some of them on the Women-in-Nuclear Canada website.

Who would you like to see profiled?

Distinctive Women – Ottawa Launch

The Profiles of Distinction family of publications is proud to announce the launch of its newest publication and online community, Distinctive Women, into the Ottawa area. Designed to showcase excellence in many forms, Distinctive Women celebrates the accomplishments of top female entrepreneurs, business leaders, healthcare professionals and non-profit organizers. Originally launched in Naples, FL just three years ago, Distinctive Women has now taken on a life of its own and can be found in Toronto and Ottawa, ON. This fall, the inaugural issue for Calgary, AB will be launched.

The Ottawa launch of Distinctive Women will be hosted by Ashley Robson of Profiles of Distinction and will be celebrated by upwards of 50 women on Tuesday, May 29th at Events in Style in the trendy ByWard Market. The publication will be distributed to affluent households on Wednesday, May 30th as an insertion in The Ottawa Citizen.

Nuclear Education Nuclear Energy Nuclear Medicine Nuclear Pride Nuclear Safety

Here’s to your Health, Canada!

Today is Canada Health Day as well as the first anniversary of the blog!

We launched one year ago today because we felt it fitting to mark the important contributions nuclear technology has made to health in Canada and around the world.

Our nuclear medicine ad in the Canadian Cancer Society’s feature in the Toronto Star, March 29.

It isn’t hard to understand the impact of medical isotopes. Nowhere is nuclear technology more widely accepted than in the medical field.  Canada supplies a significant amount of the world’s medical isotopes for nuclear medicine, which are used every day in thousands of procedures here at home and around the world.

Last month, in honour of Daffodil Month, the CNA teamed up with the Canadian Cancer Society to promote the excellent work they do to support Canadians living with cancer. Today, we’re happy to share the good news released in the Cancer Society report on cancer statistics in Canada.  The report found that the cancer death rate in Canada is going down. Nearly 100,000 lives have been saved over the last 20 years. This is attributed in part to education on preventative lifestyle measures like not smoking, exercising, maintaining a healthy diet, and avoiding over-exposure to the sun. Improvements in cancer screening and treatments have made a difference as well, thanks to radiation treatments which have evolved and improved over the years:

“In the 1970s, computers were introduced into treatment planning. Radiology developed CAT, MRI and PET scans so that tumors could be targeted with precision. This was followed by intensity modulated and image guided radiation therapy (IMRT and IGRT) machinery which could use these new diagnostic advances to now deliver the dose with pin-point accuracy while avoiding normal tissues.”

–          Roger F. Robison, M.D., Vice-chair, American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) History Committee, Bloomington, Ind. Source

Radiologists can now deliver radiation treatment more precisely, targeting only cancer cells. More effective radiotherapy, means more Canadians surviving cancer.

Nuclear medicine is just one example of how nuclear technology has benefited the health and wellbeing of Canadians.  Beyond medical isotopes, there’s gamma processing to improve, for example, food safety, sterilizing cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices, and there’s the health benefit of clean nuclear energy for the air we breathe.

Nuclear energy in Canada diverts a potential 90 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year that would result from the same amount of electricity generated by fossil-based sources. Greenhouse gasses contribute to climate change and smog – smog and air pollution have a huge impact on the health of Canadians and the global community.

According to Pollution Probe’s Smog Primer:

“Globally, it is estimated that by 2020 a total of 700,000 premature deaths from particulate* exposure could be prevented each year if emission reduction policies were implemented. The majority, as many as 563,000 prevented deaths, would be in developing countries, while the other 138,000 would be in developed nations, such as Canada.”

*’Particulate’ is a general name given to a tiny solid or liquid particle or piece of matter. It usually refers to particles in the air (airborne particulates).

So whether it’s beating cancer, keeping our food and products safe, and our air clean, on this Canada Health Day, we’re saying thank you to the Canadian nuclear community for the historical and ongoing contributions it’s made to our quality of life today.

Learn more about the daily benefits of nuclear technology at and join the TalkNUclear conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

And in celebration of the one-year anniversary of the blog, here are the top posts of the year!


Happy Canada Health Day from your Canadian Nuclear Association!


Messages Nuclear Energy Nuclear Medicine Nuclear R&D

Nuclear Industry Update: Denise Carpenter Speaks at Nordion Reception

On June 12, Denise Carpenter, President and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association addressed the Nordion VIP Reception in advance of the 16th International Meeting on Radiation Processing. Here’s what she had to say:

President & CEO of the CNA – Denise Carpenter

Thank-you very much for inviting me here today to speak with you at Nordion’s VIP reception.

I truly enjoy taking the opportunity to talk about Canada’s nuclear industry, but am particularly honoured to be here today at the kick-off event for the International Meeting on Radiation Processing here in Montreal.

I had the pleasure this morning of touring The Canadian Irradiation Centre, which is part of Nordion’s commitment to gamma processing. The Centre offers a range of irradiation services including training, testing and development and is truly a testament to the sophistication of the industry and the advancements that have been made.

I often refer to Canada’s nuclear community as a village – we all make one another stronger and together build the infrastructure for a more vibrant and stable future.

Nordion and its global partners are village leaders in this respect. I am a firm believer that health is the most important resource we have and the most essential component of a community.

Quite simply, the Cobalt-60 and related technologies and services your organizations provide or use on a daily basis, prevent disease and infections worldwide.

Without the cohesive global network of highly skilled organizations that are here with us today including the US, Europe, China and South America, this simply would not be possible.

If I can take it one step further, your industries are truly where science and business connect.

Denise at Nordion VIP Reception June 12
Denise Carpenter speaking at Nordion’s IMRP VIP Reception

But before I get into specifics, I would like to tell you a bit more about the Canadian Nuclear Association and what it is we do.

The CNA represent over 95 members from the entire spectrum of the nuclear industry – electricity producers, manufacturers, uranium mining and fuel processing, engineering and universities and labour unions.

As an association, our work includes being active with governments and encouraging all levels to recognize the value our industry brings to Canada: a clean energy source, the creation of highly skilled jobs across several sectors, and revolutions in nuclear medicine. The list goes on.

And I am proud to say that we have a strong Canadian legacy of innovation and leadership in the nuclear industry.
From our early days at Chalk River to today, our industry is responsible for developing innovative new products and services that have improved the quality of life of Canadians and people around the globe.

  • We invented CANDU technology.
  • We have created a world-leading uranium industry.
  • We have achieved a record of safe, reliable and affordable nuclear power generation.
  • In fact, nuclear energy is responsible for 15% of Canada’s electricity production and for over 55% of Ontario’s alone.

Despite many inroads, our industry has also faced many challenges in the past year.

Recently, the nuclear industry was challenged by the tragic incident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan.

Our industry, which supports more than 71,000 Canadian jobs, has been working tirelessly to help our Japanese counterparts and derive any lessons learned to improve upon our own safety here in Canada, as we always do.

Safety has always been – and continues to be – the number one priority for our industry. The nuclear safety culture goes beyond geographical boundaries. It is truly global.

While this was a major shock to our industry, it is not a setback. We continue to improve as our industry forges forward.

Since the tragedy in Japan, the Ontario Government has reaffirmed its commitment to the refurbishment of reactors as well as new builds.

These exciting projects will bring new revitalization to the Ontario and Canadian economies as well as our nuclear industry.

To give you some concrete numbers, an independent report released by the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters stated that refurbishing nuclear facilities at Bruce and Darlington will support 25,000 jobs and inject $5 billion into the Ontario economy annually for a decade – with more than 15,000 jobs continuing thereafter.

In Western Canada, the Government of Saskatchewan recently announced a Centre for Research in Nuclear Medicine and Materials Science at the University of Saskatchewan.

The province is investing $30 million over seven years in the new centre, which will make Saskatchewan the focal point for nuclear research and development in Western Canada.

Our effort of continual improvement also includes enhanced communications with stakeholders, and all Canadians for that matter.

Last year, we conducted extensive research and learned that Canadians want to know how nuclear affects them, beyond simply keeping the lights on. We heard that they want to learn more about how nuclear plays a role in healthcare, and most importantly, how it’s keeping their families healthy.

We thought long and hard about how to communicate this message, and decided to take a multi-prong approach.

Later this month, we are launching an interactive microsite that virtually takes users through different scenarios to learn how nuclear is making Canada better.

A large focus of this site is how nuclear is improving health care in Canada and abroad, from sterilizing medical supplies and devices  to diagnosing and treating illnesses like cancer.

The site poses attention-grabbing questions to visitors, like

‘Did you know nuclear ensures critical medical devices are sterile?’

When the site launches later this month, I encourage you all to take a look and pass it along to your colleagues.

It of course will be an iterative process, and we welcome any recommendations or input you each may have.

We are also using social media as a platform to promote dialogue about our industry and its contribution to health, including our new TalkNuclear Facebook page, Twitter page and our TalkNuclear blog.

While we continue to move forward and leverage these communication platforms, uncertainties do remain such as the Government of Canada’s plans to privatize the commercial interests of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL).

With a majority government now in place, we suspect this process will move along more quickly.

The path forward for the Chalk River Laboratories, Canada’s primary nuclear industry research and development infrastructure, will also be analyzed.

The CNA has developed a position paper on the need for re-investment in nuclear research and development infrastructure as essential to Canada’s future domestic and international competitiveness.

We are advocating for a small expert panel to review the status, potential, and governance of nuclear R&D in Canada.

We believe the Government should give thoughtful consideration to the future of the R&D side of the nuclear industry, regardless of the status of the AECL restructuring

As you all know, continued investment in nuclear, particularly R&D, is the strongest catalyst for our industry’s growth and successful future.

Nordion CEO Steve West. — Thanks for inviting us to speak at the reception, Steve


I want to thank you again for inviting me to be here this evening.

Our nuclear village is truly global and would not be possible without the strong networks I’ve seen tonight. Your global cooperation will continue to make our nuclear industry stronger and better.

On a day-to-day basis, it might be easy to forget what your work means to people worldwide. Your efforts go beyond the numbers and figures of business. You are in the business of improving lives and preventing disease, each and every day.

For that, we thank you.

Nuclear Medicine Nuclear R&D

16th International Meeting on Radiation Processing

Industry leaders and scientific experts from around the world will gather at IMRP Montreal 2011, the 16th global forum of the international radiation processing community,  to discuss, debate and discover the latest in industrial electron beam, x-ray and gamma ray technology.

Having this international meeting in Montreal is a perfect fit. The city is recognized for its outstanding university research base and advancements in food irradiation, healthcare and life sciences. What’s more is nuclear R&D in Canada supports materials testing and product improvements, medical products and services, training and development of scientists and engineers, and other activities of high value to an advanced economy. Investment in nuclear R&D is an essential investment in the health and safety of every Canadian.

Downloadable Meeting Information
IMRP Content programme (PDF)
IMRP Programme at a Glance (PDF)

Nordion is the Regional Sponsor and Gala Host of this year’s International Meeting on Radiation Processing,  which is very fitting since Nordion is an industry leader in gamma sterilization technologies (see our previous post about their custom-built food-only irradiator). They have created a microsite for the event where you can find out information about their participation at IMRP 2011, including  the following:
• A two-hour tour of the Nordion CIC on June 13
• See what’s new at Nordion by visiting Booth #10-11
• Hear from Nordion research and development experts
• Schedule a meeting with Nordion