Paul Ellison, PhD, Reinier Hernandez, PhD, and Jonathan Engle, PhD are a part of a multi-site project “HIPPO: Horizon-broadening Isotope Production Pipeline Opportunities” that was approved for a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The goal of the project is to establish a new undergraduate and graduate training program for students to gain experience in the production of isotopes of interest to nuclear medicine.
The University of Wisconsin is one of two key university isotope production sites in the HIPPO collaboration. The UW will be hosting the Annual HIPPO Campus Experience, a one-week laboratory-based instruction and training program for 8 – 10 trainees. The training will have didactic lectures and demonstrations of techniques and strategies employed in isotope science and will also recruit and host graduate and undergraduate student researchers for internships ranging from two weeks to two months. As well, the UW production site will develop and deliver seminar/colloquia to undergraduate and graduate trainees, participating academic partners, and isotope production laboratories.
The project was created in response to the Funding Opportunity Announcement from the Department of Energy in May 2021. Ellison, Hernandez, and Engle quickly reached out to a diverse group of academic and national laboratory groups that have a vested interest in educating the next generation of scientists in the field of nuclear medicine isotope production. Dr. Ellison said, “After an intense five weeks of gathering collaborators, weekly Zoom meetings, and writing, we ended up with a very well thought out proposal which was reviewed favorably.”
The grant’s total funding for the first two years is $2,000,000 spread between 10 universities (Texas A&M University, Notre Dame University, University of Utah, Stony Brook University, CUNY Hunter College, Dillard University, Texas A&M University Higher Education Center, Texas Lutheran University, Virginia State University, University of Texas at El Paso) and 2 national laboratories (Los Alamos National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory). If successful in recruiting and engaging students, it may be possible to extend the program through the same DOE funding mechanism to allow the first cohort of HIPPO trainees to complete a 4-year course of the program. Dr. Ellison is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Physics. Drs. Hernandez and Engle are jointly appointed faculty with the Department of Medical Physics and the Department of Radiology. Congratulations to all on this exciting new program!