TRI-CITIES, Wash. — Washington State University Tri-Cities announced today its plans to offer a new Graduate Certificate in Nuclear Pharmacy with funding provided by the Department of Energy’s Advanced Nuclear Medicine Initiative.

Dr. William Fassett, dean of WSU’s College of Pharmacy and Dr. Larry James, dean of the Tri-Cities campus, made the announcement on the Richland campus. U.S. Senator Patty Murray and William Magwood, director of DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology, who participated via a live satellite hookup from Washington, D.C, joined them.

The new program will train pharmacists in the special area of nuclear pharmacy. Nuclear pharmacists compound and dispense medicines containing radioactive materials for use in such medical treatments as cancer, as well as cardiac and skeletal imaging. Other similar programs are few and far between. Purdue University in Indiana and the University of New Mexico are among U.S. colleges and universities with nuclear pharmacy offerings.

“What Washington State University will offer to pharmacists is a one-year program of courses and hands-on experience leading to a Graduate Certificate in Nuclear Pharmacy,” Dean Fassett said. “In addition, as part of our program to meet the demand for health professionals with formal training in nuclear pharmacy, we’ll offer some courses in this program specifically for pharmacy students and others open to nonpharmacy students.”

WSU was selected as one of only five programs nationally to be funded under the DOE’s Advanced Nuclear Medicine Initiative. The grant, details of which are being finalized, covers three years at $100,00 per year. Raymond Quock, chair of WSU’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, is the principal investigator for the grant.

“This new program is an excellent example of how Washington State University works with its partners in the Tri-Cities and uses its multi-campus system to provide training and education opportunities,” Dean James said. “This actually was started with input from the community and is a ‘win-win’ situation for everyone involved.”

The first year of the project will be devoted to planning, institutional review, and final academic approval. It’s expected the first courses leading to the graduate certificate will be offered in the Tri-Cities in fall, 2002.

Joining the announcement live from studios in Washington, D.C., Senator Murray said,

“I am pleased to help announce a grant that will enable the WSU Tri-Cities to offer such an innovative program in nuclear pharmacy. As one of only a handful of universities in the country to offer this program, WSU Tri-Cities is well-positioned to be a national leader in this emerging, hi-tech field.”

WSU’s program is designed to be completed by pharmacists over 11 months, although options to complete the program on a part-time basis are planned. The curriculum will fill the necessary training requirements and pre-professional experience for students to earn board certification in nuclear pharmacy after one year of employment in the field.

The certificate will consist of 36 semester credit hours of both classroom and laboratory work and advanced practical experience in the field. The program is open to qualified graduates of both North American and international schools of pharmacy.

Nuclear pharmacy has been a recognized specialty of the pharmacy field since 1980. The initiative was started last year to support broad-based research on new uses of isotopes for the diagnosis and therapy of life-threatening diseases or other innovative medical applications.