University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences

IBA Cyclone 18 to be installed in the Mitchell subbasement in late 2016.


(November 22, 2015) The University of Chicago has had a long and storied history in medical imaging that spans well over half a century. In 1968, UChicago was one of the first academic institutions to install a cyclotron to produce short-lived radioactive isotopes for imaging. That machine was decommissioned in 1997. 

To advance the University of Chicago’s work in metabolic imaging, and re-establish its leadership role in this area, a new state-of-the art cyclotron and research facility will be installed in the subbasement of Bernard R. Mitchell Hospital. Construction will begin in early 2016 and is expected to be completed at the end of the year.

The cyclotron will produce medically important, radioactive isotopes that are compounded into injectable drugs.  The drugs are then injected into the body and tracked by Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging equipment to provide a more in-depth view of diseased tissues. The drugs can help facilitate an earlier and more specific diagnosis resulting in a more rapid and effective treatment for illnesses. This could have significant applications in oncology, cardiology, and neurology.

“The installation of the cyclotron will further our mission of research innovation that could lead to breakthroughs with far-reaching impact,” said Richard Freifelder, Ph.D., cyclotron program manager.   

In addition to a dedicated a space for the new cyclotron, the 9,500-square-foot research area will also contain:

  • Four modern cGMP clean rooms for the production of FDA compliant PET drugs
  • An Integrated Small Animal Research Resource (iSAIRR), which will house imaging systems and rodents dedicated to small animal imaging research.

Freifelder, who was appointed to his position earlier this year, has more than 12 years of experience. He  operated and directed the cyclotron facility at the University of Pennsylvania.

The University of Chicago Medical Center will be the only academic medical institution in Illinois with a cyclotron facility when it comes on-line in late 2016. Freifelder noted that this machine presents an opportunity to work with institutions near and far to help advance their research and create long-term partnerships.

Also leading the $8.4 million project is David Paushter, M.D., chair of the Department of Radiology, and Chin‐Tu Chen, Ph.D., assistant professor of radiology.

Installation of the cyclotron and supporting facility may be challenging in a pre-existing building located within a bustling medical center environment. That is why the internationally renowned, Philadelphia-based firm Jacobs Wyper Architects was chosen as the project’s design team. They specialize in cGMP laboratory renovation and working in legacy spaces. 

A world leader in the manufacturing and design of cyclotrons, Ion Beam Applications (IBA), located in Louvain la Neuve, Belgium was selected as the cyclotron vendor.

Funding to bring the cyclotron to the Hyde Park campus includes, but is not limited to donations from the O’Connor Foundation, the Duchossois Foundation and the Cancer Center Capital Campaign.

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