January 26, 2010

Dr. Robert W. Atcher, UNM Cancer Center Member, Appointed Director of the National Isotope Data Center


Dr. Robert W. Atcher, the University of New Mexico/Los Alamos National Laboratory Professor of Pharmacy at Los Alamos National Laboratory and member of the UNM Cancer Center, has been appointed Director of the National Isotope Data Center (NIDC). Dr. Atcher will coordinate NIDC activities, including operation of the Isotope Business Office, coordination of production and processing activities and the development and coordination of a suite of community outreach efforts.

“With the installation of a Siemens Eclipse Cyclotron and the launch of a new isotope production facility and radiopharmacy at our beautiful new UNM Cancer Treatment and Clinical Research Facility, New Mexico is becoming the focal point for isotope development and production in the United States,” said Dr. Cheryl Willman, Director and CEO of the UNM Cancer Center. “Dr. Atcher’s research into the use of radionuclides for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer makes him a perfect candidate for this prestigious post. We are thrilled to see one of our own receive this recognition.”

Created in 2009, the NIDC will be a virtual full-service organization to support all isotope development and production sites in the community supported by the Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Physics within the Office of Science.

Dr. Atcher’s research focuses on the use of radionuclides for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. He is the immediate past president of the Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM) and the former president of the SNM’s Radiopharmaceutical Sciences Council. He also holds an appointment as Professor of Pharmacy at UNM. At Los Alamos National Laboratory, Dr. Atcher most recently served as the program manager for the Department of Health and Human Services programs. He has published nearly 90 peer-reviewed journal articles and has written 70 abstracts for national meetings.

The new radioisotope production center at the UNM Cancer Center, developed in partnership with Siemens Medical Solutions, USA, will allow the UNM Cancer Center to produce medically useful isotopes, which are a critical component of powerful cancer diagnosis and treatment methods. Imaging biomarkers produced by the new cyclotron are also used to diagnose and monitor cardiac and neurologic diseases and conditions. In the past, physicians and researchers had to import isotopes from outside the state. In addition, this new radiopharmacy will serve as the newest distribution site for PETNET Solutions, a Siemens Company, and will serve the Southwest region.

The UNM Cancer Center is the Official Cancer Center of the State of New Mexico, and one of only 65 National Cancer Institute designated cancer centers in the nation. It is home to 85 board-certified oncology physicians representing every cancer specialty and more than 120 research scientists hailing from such prestigious institutions as M.D. Anderson, Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic.

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