Marym Musab was drawn to her degree in nuclear medicine because it offers opportunities for patient interaction and saving lives. Musab, BHS ’20, trained in the use of radiopharmaceuticals for diagnosing and treating disease. A key feature of her education included a six-week rotation this past spring at the MU Research Reactor, which makes radiopharmaceuticals and ships them worldwide.
“I was very impressed with MURR,” Musab says. “We’re always ordering these drugs, but we don’t usually see what’s involved in getting the radiopharmaceuticals out and delivered.” MURR, the country’s most powerful university research reactor, is the sole U.S. producer of molybdenum-99, a radioisotope that’s critical to medical imaging.
Radiopharmaceuticals injected into patients emit light that imaging equipment can detect to pinpoint and track disease. In some cases, an altered version of the same drug can be used to treat the disease, targeting it without affecting organs nearby.
“If someone has metastasized cancer throughout the body, we can’t irradiate the whole body,” says Jeff Galen, BS Ed ’90, BHS ’94, M Ed ’02, director of MU’s nuclear medicine program. “With radiopharmaceuticals, we can do very targeted therapy and have wonderful results.” The challenge is creating such drugs, which is where MURR comes in.
“We’re lucky to have what MURR brings to our program, including not only faculty but also research opportunities for students,” Galen says. “Mizzou grads are some of the best trained in the country.”
This story was originally published in the Fall 2020 issue of MIZZOU alumni magazine.