After two and a half years of design and construction, the newest facility for advanced cancer diagnostics discovery in Massachusetts is ready to begin operation. The centerpiece of the new Molecular Cancer Imaging Facility, which will greatly expand research capacity for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, is a cyclotron weighing 46,000 pounds—or two adult elephants!
The cyclotron is the foundation of molecular imaging research, a new set of techniques used to accelerate drug discovery through faster evaluation of treatments in preclinical and clinical settings. Molecular imaging permits non-invasive methods to visualize, characterize and measure biological processes at the molecular and cellular levels in living systems.
This project strengthens existing centers of excellence in the Dana-Farber system, as well as the greater Boston area, by expanding access to specialized isotopes. The facility will produce both novel and standard imaging isotopes in close proximity to research sites—a critical factor due to the short half-life of these powerful compounds.
The facility’s self-shielded PET Trace cyclotron and its associated research laboratory have the potential to support up to 12 radiation hot cells. Special lead-shielded boxes were crafted in the Netherlands; they are designed to surpass exacting radiation safety protocols. The companion specialty lab and quality control/quality assurance laboratories are structured for future conversion into cGMP space for clinical testing. The first dedicated research facility of its kind in Massachusetts, the isotopes generated in the new suite will support early-stage testing of diagnostic tracers in the adjacent Lurie Family Imaging Center.
With an efficient layout and advances in cyclotron technology, this 2,600 SF renovation will have the capacity of facilities more than 20 times its size. The project includes a new mechanical system with multiple safety redundancies. Built in 1917, the concrete structure of this former military warehouse supported the conversion of an elevator shaft into a new services path to both a dedicated rooftop mechanical penthouse and the 46,000-pound cyclotron. Its sturdy slabs and ample floor height also permitted construction of new magnetic and radiation shielding systems and under-slab trench pathways for product delivery.
A concealed but unique feature of the project is the respect for the original, historic structure. The expansion below the existing loading canopy is a free-standing assembly of structurally-insulated panels and delicate columns that follow the gentle curve of the building. The vibrant handmade tiles and board-formed concrete walls echo the craftsmanship of the existing building. This level of exacting detail and craft is carried throughout the project.
Installing a Heavyweight
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Groundbreaking