New physics center, leadership announced for IU Cyclotron Facility
Indiana University has announced a restructuring at its IU Cyclotron Facility that creates a new physics research center and moves operational responsibility for the cyclotron to the Indiana University School of Medicine.
The new center, called the Indiana University Center for Matter and Beams (IUCMB), will be devoted to inquiry-based research in nuclear, condensed matter and accelerator-based physics.
The announcement was made by IU Provost and Executive Vice President Karen Hanson and Robert B. Schnabel, interim vice president for research. The facility had previously operated under the office of the IU Bloomington Vice Provost for Research.
"The cyclotron facility has nearly doubled in size since the late 1990s, and as the breadth of the efforts has grown, it has become a challenge to operate within a single organizational structure," Hanson said. "We are therefore pleased to announce the creation of a new research center -- the IU Center for Matter and Beams -- that will allow the cyclotron's two primary units, research and service, to continue to coexist in the same building in a mutually supportive manner."
Research involving faculty, students and research staff that receives nearly $8 million annually in external support will continue through the new IUCMB while the cyclotron's long tradition of service to the community by providing proton beams for cancer treatment and neutrons for testing space electronics also will be maintained.
"Because of its intimate association with clinical cancer care, cyclotron operations will be shifting to the auspices of the School of Medicine's Department of Radiation Oncology and affiliated with the IU Simon Cancer Center," Schnabel said. "We're also pleased to announce that Dr. Peter Johnstone will assume responsibility for cyclotron operations, maintenance and clinical integration."
Johnstone is chair of the IU School of Medicine's Department of Radiation Oncology in Indianapolis and in 2008 was named president and chief executive officer of the Midwest Proton Radiotherapy Institute (MPRI), which is co-located at the cyclotron facility. He also has oversight responsibility for radiation oncology services within Clarian Healthcare.
"The addition of cyclotron operations to the department's portfolio will allow for seamless integrations between the complementary functions of proton beam production and delivery," Johnstone said. "The Bloomington facility is one of only six in the country providing proton therapy to cancer patients. It is an enormous asset to the entire Midwest, but especially for Hoosiers who otherwise would need to travel to Texas, Oklahoma, or one of the coasts for this unique type of therapy. I look forward to this opportunity to work with the cyclotron operations team as they join our patient care mission."
Dedicated in 1976, the facility houses particle accelerators that use large electromagnets to produce proton beams that can be used by MPRI for the irradiation of cancerous tumors, while the cyclotron's Radiation Effects Research Program (RERP) uses neutrons created when protons bombard a beryllium target. The neutrons carry no electrical charge and can be moderated to penetrate materials while remaining sensitive to the respective material's molecular structure, allowing scientists to analyze the effects of radiation of materials used in space.
"The new IU Center for Matter and Beams carries forward IUCF's outstanding research programs in nuclear science, condensed matter physics and accelerator physics. Since its mission will focus exclusively on basic research, IUCMB can provide support that is more finely tuned to meet the needs of researchers than IUCF with its broader responsibilities was able to," noted IUCF director and physics professor James Musser. "The accelerator-based facilities supported under IUCMB provide those researchers with capabilities that are absolutely unique in a university setting, and I expect great things from IUCMB in the future."
The restructuring will take place immediately and will necessitate a workforce reduction of about 15 percent of the current staff of about 130 employees. IU human resources professionals will provide support toward finding employment elsewhere within the university to those no longer assigned within the two operating units.