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First Interactive E-learning Course on Therapeutic Applications of Radioisotopes and Radiopharmaceuticals in Asia and the Pacific


A lecturer from KAERI remotely trains participants on nuclear reactions radioactive decay kinetics. (Photo: KAERI, WCI)

Fifty-one participants from 16 countries in Asia and the Pacific took part in an IAEA-organized tutor-guided, e-learning course on diagnostic and therapeutic radioisotopes and radiopharmaceuticals application, in cooperation with the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) and the World Council on Isotopes (WCI). It was the first time that the IAEA has delivered a fully online training event in the region.  The course, delivered in August, provided technical professionals engaged in the radiopharmaceutical field with the theoretical knowledge and practical guidance necessary to manage the production and supply of radiopharmaceuticals.

Participants were trained online across three overarching modules, addressing radiochemistry, radioisotopes and radiopharmaceuticals. The basic concepts which underpin radioactivity detection and measurement, radiation safety, waste management and the production of radioisotopes using both nuclear reactors and cyclotrons were discussed. They also learned about the use of quality management systems, which are essential to ensuring the safe production and supply of products for clinical use.

The e-learning course was organized under a regional technical cooperation project[1] in the Asia and Pacific region, which is promoting the use of nuclear science and technology by strengthening education and training networks. “This course provided a holistic overview of medical radioisotope production and the key aspects related to the production and supply of radiopharmaceutical for clinical use,” said Aruna Korde, Radiopharmaceutical Scientist and IAEA Technical Officer for the ongoing, regional project.

The course consisted of video clips, homework assignments, group discussions and a final exam, which was also administered remotely. Special emphasis was put on interactivity, both between trainees and with their lecturers, to ensure that questions received immediate and comprehensive responses and to facilitate stimulating discussions between professional peers and class tutors across borders and time-zones.

The e-learning format allowed for multiple facets to be covered. Here, a lecturer speaks on quality control of radiopharmaceuticals in hospitals. (Photo: KAERI, WCI)

Damayanthi Nanayakkara, a course participant from the Nuclear Medicine Unit of Sri Lanka’s University of Peradeniya, said: “The training course was a good experience and a challenge, which gave me the opportunity to be a student again, having been a teacher for so long. It refreshed my knowledge on radiation chemistry, physics and basic nuclear science. It will also be very useful for my teaching skills.”

Participants could raise their hands ‘electronically’ and interact in real-time. A tutor was available online and was responsible for interacting and communicating with participants and grading their participation, assignments and tests. “Over 80% of participants passed the final exam, allowing them to disseminate the knowledge acquired and train their fellow colleagues in their home countries, in line with the regional project’s objectives,” said Marina Mishar, Programme Management Officer for the project.

Course participants noted the added value of the course’s use of e-learning and mobile-learning technologies, which had the benefit of providing a time- and money-saving alternative to conventional capacity building efforts.

“The course opened up the possibility to reach and interact with a large number of professionals working in the field. The experience gained and the participant feedback received will surely be useful in our design of tailormade, e-learning courses covering specific issues, as well as basic courses for beginners. Finally, sharing practical problems and experiences among participants and tutors has proved to be a helpful alternative to bridge the gap of hands-on training,” said Korde.

[1] RAS0075 “Networking for Nuclear Education, Training, and Outreach Programmes in Nuclear Science and Technology in the Framework of ANENT (Asian Network for Education in Nuclear Technology)”

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