Michigan Memorial Phoenix Project awards $75,000 in nuclear research seed funding

Friday, June 08, 2018

A new round of seed funding from the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Project (MMPP) will allow exploration of projects aimed at improving radiation detection, laboratory research, and healthcare imaging. 

Phoenix Project seed grants are an outgrowth of the MMPP’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.” Seed grants allow researchers exploring peaceful nuclear projects to better define projects that appear promising for funding by an outside source. Awarded twice a year, MMPP grants are curated by the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences

The awardees are: 

Project title: Laser-based Standoff Detection of Tritium
Project lead: Igor Jovanovic, Professor
Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences
Project summary: "By developing new and innovative techniques to detect radioactive tritium at distances and in configurations that cannot be supported by traditional radiation detection methods, there is a potential to advance radiological safety, security, and protect human health."

Project title: Development of tabletop photoneutron source with time-of-flight capabilities
Project lead: Patricia Schuster, President's Postdoctoral Fellow/Assistant Professor
Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences
Project summary: This neutron source would provide a tabletop neutron source with time-of-flight capabilities for laboratory studies. Additionally, the source would be applicable to active interrogation, as it produces neutrons in a desirable energy range. 

Project title: Development of a fluorinated NP-59 analogue for adrenal imaging and the study of cholesterol metabolism related pathology
Project lead: Ka Kit Wong, M.D., Assistant Professor of Radiology
Michigan Medicine
Project summary: Iodinated-131 NP-59 was developed at the University of Michigan forty years ago and has a long history of clinical utility in select patients with adrenal disease. However, given issues with dosimetry and the use of iodine as the radiolabel, widespread adrenal screening is limited. The development of a fluorinated analogue, 6-beta-fluoromethyl-19-norcholesterol (FMNC), would reduce the dose by taking advantage of modern imaging techniques, positron emission tomography (PET), and limit potential thyroid exposure. These advantages would expand the adrenal applications, but could also allow imaging of cholesterol metabolism related to pathology, particularly in the cardiovascular system.

About the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Project

The University of Michigan Energy Institute extends a rich tradition of energy research at U-M. Established in 2006, it builds on the legacy of the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Project. The Phoenix Project was launched in 1948 to engage in research and other activities that support the peaceful uses of atomic energy as a “living memorial” for the members of the University of Michigan community who gave their lives in World War II.