Fifty years ago, in 1972, the Brookhaven Linac Isotope Producer (BLIP) began operation. It was the world’s first facility to use high-energy particle beams to produce radioisotopes that are rare, new, or commercially unavailable. Since then, BLIP’s isotopes have been used for a variety of purposes—chief among them, the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
Some of BLIP’s radioisotopes—forms of chemical elements with excess atomic energy—can make cancerous tumors “light up,” allowing doctors to find and track them using medical scans. Other radioisotopes can deliver their energy in a targeted cell-killing punch that knocks cancer cells out of commission.
“The technology at BLIP is truly remarkable,” said Cathy Sue Cutler, director of the Medical Isotope Research and Production (MIRP) program at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory. “It has produced findings that have helped millions of human lives.”