Michigan Memorial Phoenix Project awards $100,000 in nuclear research seed grants

Monday, May 04, 2015
by Amy Mast

Projects that promise to power deep space missions, add new capabilities to neutron research, and improve cancer diagnostics and treatment are each the recipients of $25,000 Michigan Memorial Phoenix Project (MMPP) seed grants. Seed grants allow researchers exploring peaceful applications of nuclear energy to better define research that appears promising for funding by an outside source.

The grants are the legacy of the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Project, the Eisenhower-era project that, along with U-M’s Ford nuclear reactor, ushered in decades of nuclear research intended for peaceful purposes. Today, Michigan’s top-ranked Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences (NERS) Department and the University of Michigan Energy Institute together administer the grant program, and a University-wide Advisory Board selects its recipients.

Phoenix Project seed grants are an outgrowth of the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Project’s original mission, established in 1948, that: “…the University of Michigan create a War Memorial Center to explore the ways and means by which the potentialities of atomic energy may become a beneficent influence in the life of man.”

The funded projects are as follows:

Christine Aidala of the Department of Physics received funds to explore the development of a novel neutron detector for measurements at energies relevant to nuclear structure and reactions.

Michelle Kim of the Department of Radiation Oncology and Aaron Mammoser of the Department of Neurology received funds to conduct a prospective study on advanced nuclear imaging for radiation treatment planning in newly diagnosed glioblastoma, the most common and lethal primary brain tumor.

Marcian Van Dort and Hao Hong, both of the Department of Radiology, received funding to broaden diagnostic capability for mouse models of prostate cancer with a new prototype radioligand- a radioactive substance that bonds to receptors in the body more effectively than variants currently in use for prostate cancer imaging.

John Foster of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences Department received funds to explore the development of a test version of an efficient, low-power radioisotope system capable of providing low-power, long-lasting propulsion during missions to explore the edge of the solar system and beyond.

Click here to learn more about the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Project. 

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