Not many twenty year olds get the opportunity to hang out in a PET Production facility with twin Eclipse Cyclotrons and Explora chemistry modules, but for James Weale, a University of Newcastle student, that’s exactly what the last 3 months have been about.

James has been fortunate enough to secure a PETNET Solutions scholarship and has been spending his days learning how to produce batches of fluorine-18-labelled Sodium Fluoride and performing daily quality control procedures at the PETNET Solutions facility.

“When I saw the opportunity for a scholarship at PETNET Solutions, I immediately remember been interested in the research side of the industry, hence jumped at the chance and was lucky enough to be selected,” explained James. James was chosen by PETNET Solutions General Manager, John Hodder and the PETNET team from a shortlist of other candidates. According to John, James was selected as he seemed to be the best fit for the organization and because the team hoped he would get the most out of the experience.

As part of his Bachelor of Medical Radiation Science (Nuclear Medicine), James has had the opportunity to work in several private and public facilities including the Royal Prince Alfred, Sydney where he was fortunate enough to be witness to PET research on a baboon.

According to James, who grew up and attended school in Orange, his initial interest in nuclear medicine was sparked when he undertook work experience at local nuclear medicine facility and was immediately intrigued. He then applied to study at Newcastle because the course was highly respected for its excellence in teaching and credibility.

“Also, the faculty has recently been fitted with a brand new radiopharmacy lab which is of world class standard,” explained James.

James believes one of the disadvantages with PET in the past has been the limited availability of fluorine-18 labeled compounds including FDG and sodium fluoride compared to the relative ease in supply of conventional technetium-99m-labelled radiopharmaceuticals.

“However, with PETNET Solutions now producing high quality products on a daily basis this is all set to change,” said James.

James sees PET technology changing the whole impact and role of Nuclear Medicine and is excited by the prospect of being involved in the industry at such a critical time.

“It will only be a matter of time before PET facilities start to seep out of large metropolitan areas and into smaller regional centers. It’s not a matter of if anymore, it’s a matter of when,” added James.

James’s next port of call will be the PET unit in Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital at Perth WA.