BNL Chemistry Building Named Historic Landmark

Designation honors development of 18FDG, a radiopharmaceutical that revolutionized brain imaging and cancer diagnosis and management worldwide

On October 19, there was standing room only in the Chemistry Department lobby as the New York Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS) designated the Chemistry Building at Brookhaven Lab as a Historic Chemical Landmark. This designation honors the synthesis of 18FDG, a radiotracer that has had a revolutionary and global impact on cancer diagnosis and management and brain research. Originally synthesized at BNL in 1976 for positron emission tomography (PET) scanning, 18FDG is now the world’s most widely used radiotracer for cancer diagnosis, with more than 1.5 million 18FDG PET scans performed annually.

“This recognition is a great honor for Brookhaven Lab as a whole and particularly for the chemists who performed this seminal work, including Joanna S. Fowler and her colleagues, who continue to explore innovative applications for radiotracer and imaging technologies,” said Lab Director Samuel Aronson. “The development of 18FDG is also a testament to one of the key strengths of the national laboratories, which bring together scientists from a range of disciplines in an environment that fosters collaborative approaches to address some of our nation’s toughest challenges.”

The official citation from the ACS New York Section states: “Chemists at BNL have been world leaders in the synthesis of short-lived radioisotopes for nuclear medicine, under sustained support from the Office of Science at DOE, and predecessor offices at the Energy Research and Development Administration and the Atomic Energy Commission. This Historic Chemical Landmark recognizes the synthesis of 2-deoxy-2-[18F]fluoro-D-glucose (18FDG) in 1976 by chemists in the BNL Chemistry Department, and its use to measure glucose metabolism in the living human brain in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health and the University of Pennsylvania. 18FDG is now the standard radiotracer used for positron emission tomography (PET) neuroimaging and cancer diagnosis, with more than 1.5 million 18FDG PET scans performed annually.”

Watch a video of each speaker’s talk from the event:

Louis Sokoloff, M.D., Laboratory of Cerebral Metabolism at the National Institute of Mental Health

Joanna S. Fowler, Ph.D., Head of Radiotracer Development at Brookhaven National Laboratory

Abass Alavi, M.D., Chief of the Division of Nuclear Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Mony J. DeLeon, Ed.D., Department of Psychiatry at New York University Medical Center

Nora D. Volkow, M.D., Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse

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