Jefferson Lab Establishes Biomedical Research & Innovation Center

A multitude of research and development activities are pursued by innovators at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) in Newport News. This research includes better methods for detecting and treating diseases, groundbreaking technologies for monitoring and blocking radiation, new techniques for removing forever chemicals from wastewater, and much more. These initiatives have now coalesced to form Jefferson Lab’s new Biomedical Research & Innovation Center (BRIC).

Jefferson Lab’s mission is to explore the nature of matter. The more than 1,850 scientists who conduct their research in Newport News are focused on what the lab’s particle accelerator can do to uncover new information about the nucleus of the atom and enable a better understanding of our universe. Yet, the technologies that enable this exploration may also have the capability to support critical advancements in other fields.

For instance, the detector technologies that Jefferson Lab experts develop, build, test, and improve can be used to better image plants in the lab, find hidden tumors in a woman’s breast, or catch radiation and stop it before it reaches groundwater. More efficient particle accelerators can sterilize medical instruments or remove forever chemicals from wastewater with a single zap. And artificial intelligence methods can be applied to healthcare data to root out and help clinicians resolve patient disparities.

BRIC offers us a way to amplify the biomedical, human health, and environment applications that Jefferson Lab scientists and engineers have already been working on separately to address questions in nuclear physics. These are problem solvers who have been looking for ways to use their innovations in new ways, which originally came out of just trying to do nuclear physics. The new center aims to help innovators come together with like-minded colleagues. BRIC members remain dedicated to their current departments, with their BRIC membership as an added activity to boost their innovation efforts.

The initial BRIC roster includes about two dozen scientists, technicians, engineers, and others from all parts of the lab. The main activities are the research projects, many of which already exist. The center will provide a central location for mutual discussion and interagency collaboration.

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