Manitoba Team to Help Solve Canada’s Isotope Shortage

Jan 24, 2011 | Corporate Member News

Manitoba’s group PIPE to be housed in UWinnipeg’s Richardson College for the Environment & Science Complex 

The University of Winnipeg is pleased that the Government of Canada today announced $4 million support for the Prairie Isotope Production Enterprise (PIPE) as part of its strategy to address the medical isotopes shortage in Canada.  In addition, UWinnipeg today announced that PIPE, a non-profit consortium between The University of Winnipeg, Pinawa’s Acsion Industries, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and through it, Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg, will be housed in the new Richardson College for the Environment and Science Complex when it opens later this year. 

The federal government launched a process last June to find alternatives to replace the isotope supply from the deteriorating Chalk River nuclear facility. The $35 million Manitoba PIPE plan is one of four lead projects across the country selected through this process.  PIPE’s solution is unique in that it uses electron accelerator technology rather than full-scale nuclear reactors. Isotopes are an essential tool used in tests to detect cancers and heart illnesses that tens of thousands of Canadians require annually. 

“We are very pleased with the federal government’s decision to include PIPE as part of its medical isotopes strategy,” said Dr. David Walker, Chair of PIPE, who was in Saskatoon today as part of the national announcement.  “They have recognized the unique talent and innovative potential that our partnership has to offer.  In true Manitoba style, we have brought together some of the best researchers, health professionals and entrepreneurs to produce a made-in-Manitoba solution for an issue so vital to health of thousands of Canadians.” 

Lloyd Axworthy, President and Vice-Chancellor, UWinnipeg

“By hosting PIPE’s headquarters in our new state-of-the-art Richardson College for the Environment & Science Complex, we will be attracting leading Canadian researchers who want to tackle the big challenges of our time,” said Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, President and Vice-Chancellor, UWinnipeg. “Our faculty and students, as well as PIPE partners, will benefit greatly from the collaboration and synergies made possible by being located together in this facility.  Furthermore, we are situated within blocks of leading thinkers from all disciplines – the National Research Council, Canada’s Public Health Agency, the National Virology Lab, the Kleysen Institute for Advanced Medicine, the International Institute for Sustainable Development, Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium, Manitoba Hydro’s new headquarters, and the Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal Health. We are on the leading edge of collaborative scholarship that results in practical, real world applications.”

Major advantages of the Manitoba accelerator solution compared to nuclear reactors include a lack of nuclear waste, the speed with which it can be operational (three to five years) and significantly lower costs- $35 million rather than $500 million to $1.5 billion.

“For our part, we are pleased to continue the excellent partnership with The University of Winnipeg that we first established several years ago,” said Chris Saunders, President & CEO of Acsion Industries, located in Pinawa.  “We are also pleased to be working closely with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority as part of their efforts to seek out local solutions to global problems. This also marks a great step forward in the efforts of the Pinawa community to build on its infrastructure and intellectual resources.”

“ This is a very exciting project and partnership with potentially huge benefits in the area of research and technology, but also for the diagnosis and treatment of patients,” said Arlene Wilgosh, President & CEO of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

“Our radiopharmaceutical expertise and experience has set the stage for our role in this important partnership,” said Adam Topp, Chief Operating Officer, HSC.  “We look forward to working together to create significant impact for all Canadians.”

Dr. Jeff Martin, UWinnipeg physicist and a lead member of the PIPE team, is spearheading research into the manufacture of Mo-99 radioisotopes.  Dr. Kennedy Mangera of HSC is examining the radio-pharmaceutical manufacture and quality control aspects of this project.

Complete details about PIPE can be found at 

Dr. David Walker of PIPE, Dr. Rod Hanley, Dean of Science and Dr. Jeff Martin, physicist, University of Winnipeg, are available for one-on-one media interviews today. 


Diane Poulin, Communications Officer, The University of Winnipeg
P: 204.988.7135, E: [email protected] 
Heidi Graham, Director, Media Relations, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
P: 204.926.7178, E: [email protected] 

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