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United States' First IAEA Collaborating Centre to Support Cancer Initiatives


Rafael Mariano Grossi, IAEA Director General, and Chris McKee, MD Anderson Senior Vice President, Vienna, Austria, 30 January 2024. (Photo: D. Calma./IAEA)

Building on a longstanding cooperation with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in the United States of America, the IAEA has designated MD Anderson as an IAEA Collaborating Centre  —  the first such Centre in North America  —  for radiation oncology, medical physics, nuclear medicine, radiology and nutrition. 

MD Anderson will join a network of more than 70 active IAEA Collaborating Centres in 37 countries around the world. The centres assist the IAEA by undertaking original research and development and training relating to the safe, secure and peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology. MD Anderson already actively supports the IAEA in various cancer care activities and provides experts and lecturers for IAEA conferences and workshops focused on cancer care.

In addition, MD Anderson’s IROC Houston Quality Assurance Center collaborates with the IAEA in dosimetry audits, coordinated research activities (CRPs) and provides data for the IAEA’s comprehensive database on radiotherapy resources DIRAC. Experts from MD Anderson are members of the Scientific Committee of the IAEA/WHO Network of Secondary Standards Dosimetry Laboratories (SSC). 

The Center also plays a key role in developing a unified curriculum for competencies in theranostics for nuclear medicine physicians. It hosts significant training courses, including a recent IAEA and Argonne National Laboratory Training Activity on Comprehensive Clinical Audits in Diagnostic Radiology under QUAADRIL, with participants from 14 countries.  

Through its global programmes, MD Anderson is devoted exclusively to cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. The Center supports a wide range of learners, from undergraduate and graduate students to trainees and cancer care professionals worldwide. 

As an IAEA Collaborating Centre, MD Anderson will help widen access to cancer care in countries with the greatest need, as part of the IAEA’s Rays of Hope initiative.

“Through its work, MD Anderson has demonstrated its firm commitment to advancing cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. With the signing of this agreement, and the designation of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center as an IAEA Collaborating Centre, we will support cancer care for all through joint training and educational activities in low- and middle- income countries under the IAEA’s Rays of Hope. By doing this, we are tackling cancer challenges where assistance is needed most,” said IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi on the occasion of the signing ceremony in Vienna on 30 January 2024.  

In welcoming MD Anderson as newest Collaborating Centre, the IAEA Director General also thanked the US Government for its continued support in advancing cancer care globally, especially as  the United States of America is the largest contributor to Rays of Hope.

Congratulating MD Anderson as well, US Ambassador Laura Holgate — who serves as the Permanent Representative of the United States to the IAEA — reiterated her country's support to the IAEA's efforts in tackling the global cancer crisis. 

Addressing these disparities demands a comprehensive and sustainable approach, including tailored strategies, global initiatives and partnerships, as well as international collaborations. 

Under the new agreement, MD Anderson will assist the IAEA by: 

  • Cooperating in the Rays of Hope Initiative through Anchor Centres. 

  • Providing experts to the IAEA for its activities in radiotherapy, nuclear medicine, medical physics and nutrition. 

  • Cooperating in research and educational activities, and supporting development of training materials, guidelines and online tools. 

  • Supporting the IAEA in the design, implementation and follow-up of CRPs. 

  • Assisting with audit missions to assess the quality of the services and propose solutions to improve the quality of clinical practice. 

  • Participating in mentorship programmes with young medical physics and radiation metrology researchers. 

  • Supporting data management activities. 

“Collaborating with the IAEA and organizations like it is a strategic priority for MD Anderson as we work to make a lasting impact on global efforts to end cancer,” said Chris McKee, Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, MD Anderson. “We take great pride in being named the first IAEA Collaborating Centre in the U.S. focused on health care, and we know our work together will increase knowledge sharing and will close gaps in care for cancer patients around the world.” 

IAEA Collaborating Centres

To promote the use of nuclear technologies, the IAEA collaborates with designated institutions around the world. Through the Collaborating Centres network, these organizations assist the IAEA by undertaking original research and development and training relating to nuclear science, technologies and their safe and secure applications. There are currently 71 active IAEA Collaborating Centres in 37 countries, working on helping Member States reach the United Nations Sustainable Development

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