On Thursday, November 10, 2016, the Cyclotron Unit at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) was inaugurated. The Cyclotron Unit is a result of collective philanthropy of Trustee Mutaz Sawwaf, in memory of his parents Wassef and Suad Sawwaf; the Bizri family in memory of their parents Ahmad and Jamila Bizri; and Ms. Mona Nsouli in memory of her parents Dr. Afif and Yesser Nsouli.
The inauguration ceremony was held at the terrace of the Wassef and Suad Sawwaf Building. Family and friends of the late Ahmad and Jamila Bizri attended the event. Several members of the AUB and AUBMC senior leadership attended the event, including AUB President Dr. Fadlo R. Khuri; Executive VP for Medicine and Global Strategy Dr. Mohamed H. Sayegh; Medical Center Director Dr. Hassan El-Solh; Chairman of Radiology Dr. Mukbil Hourani; and Director of the Nuclear Medicine Division and Cyclotron Facility at Dr. Mohamad Haidar. The ceremony was also attended by Dr. Bilal Nsouli, national focal point and the coordinator for the EU/CBRN Risk Mitigation Program in the Prime Minister’ office, and several representatives of the Lebanese Atomic Energy Commission (LAEC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
In the opening word, Dr. Mohamad Haidar said “The Cyclotron provides new options for translational research which enables our faculty to generate new and important clinical knowledge that in turn benefits patients. This project would not be where it is today without the support of our benefactors. With a production capacity that could reach 8,000 mci per run and the ability to perform 5 runs per day, the cyclotron can fulfill the whole market demand in Lebanon and extend its capacity to the region.”
President Fadlo Khuri then emphasized the importance of using technological tools to treat patients and provide better treatments for them. He also applauded the role of the «National Council for Scientific Research» in support of scientific research system in Lebanon. President Khuri thanked Trustee Mu’taz Sawwaf, Ms. Mona Nsouli, and the Bizri family for their help in financing the construction and acquisition of the AUBMC Cyclotron.
In his word, Dr. Bilal Nsouli said, “The licenses we have recently approved for the AUBMC Cyclotron Unit have definitely contributed in placing it on the local and regional map in the field of nuclear medicine. We are proud of the collaborative work we have done with AUBMC for many years”. He added “the NCRS is in the process of finalizing plans to adopt AUBMC as a national and regional training center in Nuclear Medicine”.
Mr. Wajih Bizri spoke on behalf of the family of Ahmad and Jamila Bizri. He said “We are grateful for this opportunity to support a great institution that has provided excellent care to so many people throughout the years. This project will not only make a tangible difference to the people of the region, but also give back to an institution that puts people at the forefront of education, research, and development.”
The new Cyclotron Unit will help in manufacturing short-lived radioactive material that give a detailed view of the metabolism process as well as the pathologies in bones, organs, the heart or the nervous system. It also allows the production of new radiopharmaceuticals such as F DOPA for Parkinson’s disease, F-Amyloid for Alzheimer’s disease and amino-acids for brain tumors to help minimize patients’ suffering and establish the progress of disease. In addition, it will help in the prognosis of the current state of the disease.
The new unit will enhance AUBMC’s clinical practice in the area of molecular imaging and provide patients with access to the latest advancement in diagnosing and detection. The unit offers a good, flexible option for the production of a variety of isotopes on a regional scale, and most importantly, plays a pivotal role in advancing research and providing quality care for AUBMC’s patients in Lebanon and the region.