On April 27, Instituto Superior Técnico – CTN hosted a large debate on the medical applications of nuclear science. The symposium was organised by Técnico and Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia aiming to celebrate the 60th anniversary of research in the area of nuclear sciences and technologies in Portugal.
The president of Técnico, professor Arlindo Oliveira, opened the session stressing “the extraordinary research work at CTN on nuclear energy” and revealed part of the project that intends to build a new health unit at CTN. It is expected that from 2021 cancer patients can be treated in a more efficient way with the help of nuclear technology.
Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), stressed that “I am very happy to be here with you in this remarkable institution”. During his speech he highlighted the role of “Portugal as a founding member of the International Atomic Energy Agency in 1957 and an important partner in many areas of our work”. He also explained the work developed by the IAEA whose almost activities “are related to science and nuclear technology”.
The Director General of the IAEA focused great part of his speech on cancer: he mentioned the frightening numbers of cancer cases in both developed and developing countries and he also noted the “excellent opportunity and the advantages of this Portuguese project for cancer patients that will improve the research in Portugal”. A memorandum was signed between the Director General of the IAEA and the Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education, professor Manuel Heitor, where both parties have established the objectives of a technical and trilateral cooperation that will focus on several aspects, namely in the creation of a health unit and professional training in African countries, mainly in Portuguese-speaking African Countries (PALOP) in areas such as nuclear medicine and radiotherapy.
The Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education pointed out that “this is a very important day for nuclear science in Portugal”. We are increasingly aware of the “potential application of nuclear science in cancer treatment so the signature of this memorandum is a very important step”, said the Minister. According to professor Manuel Heitor, “science is a way of creating freedom” and this project “is the beginning of a new chapter that will benefit physicists, scientists and above all patients”.
Professor João Seco, from the German Cancer Research Center, made a presentation on the potential of proton therapy that was followed by a debate on the fight against one of the most devastating diseases of the 21st century.