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Five Year Plan Executive Summary - English

Executive Summary

The world economy is increasingly based on knowledge as a driver of productivity. For the foreseeable future, scientific discoveries and technological innovation will be the most powerful engine for economic growth. Excellence in these areas derives from substantial investments in state-of-art technical infrastructure and from the talents of highly skilled, highly educated individuals. However, success and leadership in a knowledge economy requires much more. The knowledge must be relevant and timely. TRIUMF, Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, is poised to help Canada be a leader in the science-and-technology knowledge economy.

TRIUMF's vision for the next decade brings together university, industrial, and international partners in three priority areas with the promise of true competitive advantage. The vision includes providing leadership in the transforming field of nuclear medicine, building a new superconducting accelerator for generating not-yet-discovered heavy isotopes at Canada's world-class isotope beam facility, and participating fully in the international Large Hadron Collider (LHC) project at CERN. All three areas have potential for significant scientific, economic, and societal impact.

TRIUMF has been involved with Canada's innovations in nuclear medicine and at the forefront of this field for decades: from one of the first PET scanners in the country to study of the underlying biological mechanisms of Parkinson's disease to a 30-year partnership with MDS Nordion for the production and distribution of 15% of Canada's medical isotopes. Nuclear medicine is undergoing a revolution and has great potential for dramatically improving health care for all Canadians. TRIUMF's work to design "tracer" molecules or drugs and label them with radioactive medical isotopes allows researchers to image their location in the body with high precision. This breakthrough capability is penetrating into every area of disease screening. It will soon be possible to image-and pinpoint-disease metabolism or cancerous tumour construction using positron-emission tomography (PET) imaging. Monitoring tumour metabolism during cancer therapy, or even just monitoring where a drug goes in the body, will transform medicine and treatment models. Canadians will be able to access this high level of screening through positron-emission tomography (PET) scans and a ready supply of medical isotopes connected to various types of "designer" molecules. As radiotracer-labelled designer molecules and drugs become more specific and target metabolic activity in the body more precisely, the demand for these lifesaving technologies will soar. The day will come soon when every hospital in Canada will insist upon the ability to deliver a single-patient dose of a specific radiotracer quickly and easily.

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At TRIUMF, the skills, capabilities, and technology exist to design, develop, and market an "espresso-maker" style unit that would use a cyclotron to produce the specific medical isotope, combine it with the tracer molecules using micro-fluidic "chemistry on a chip," and then deliver a single dose at the push of a button. Such a small, user-friendly unit would be in instant demand all around the world. TRIUMF is the only institution able to catalyze a national effort to develop this technology. TRIUMF has deep expertise in cyclotrons, medical-isotope production, and radiochemistry; it has established partnerships with clinical researchers in neurology, oncology, and cardiology as well as agreements with commercial partners such as MDS Nordion and Advanced Applied Physics Solutions, Inc. (AAPS). TRIUMF brings together science and technology for national and international impact.

TRIUMF is home to a world-class rare-isotope beam facility, ISAC. It is arguably one of the premier centres in the world, and for specific species of beams, the best. This branch of nuclear physics has the potential to reach the scientific holy grail of a single unified theory of nuclear physics. The proposed expansion of TRIUMF's isotope-beam facilities has the potential for a triple impact: doubling the productivity of the existing infrastructure and equipment, enabling a scientific home run in the field of fundamental physics for Canada, and studying the next generation of medical isotopes. The European Union, collectively France, Germany, Japan, and the US individually, are all seeking new major accelerator projects in this area; worldwide investment exceeds $4 billion. TRIUMF has a lead position in this pack and with the right investment, could become the top institution in this field for a decade and beyond.

The LHC project is expected to begin taking data in 2008-2009 and could fundamentally change the way we think about our world. It may discover properties of space and time that only science fiction could have imagined. TRIUMF brokered the international partnership that has put Canadian scientists as integral collaborators in the LHC project. The Canadian contributions to the accelerator, detector, and data centre are recognized throughout the international particle physics community as a measure of Canadian excellence. The LHC Tier-1 Data Centre at TRIUMF provides Canada access to the technology of global grid-computing in a leadership role. The accelerator, detector, and computing systems are all working, commissioned and ready for data while Canadian graduate students are preparing for discovery.

TRIUMF has a superb international reputation not just as a subatomic physics laboratory but also as a laboratory that partners successfully with industry. Transferring technology to Canadian business is a major goal of the 2010-2015 Five-Year Plan. TRIUMF is known internationally for its work with MDS Nordion, a global health and life-science company, with which it received the NSERC 2004 Synergy Award. Another TRIUMF-inspired company, D-Pace, was awarded the 2007 Synergy Award. In 2008, TRIUMF received a National Centres of Excellence award to create a commercialization partner, AAPS, Inc. TRIUMF recently partnered with PAVAC Industries, Inc., a small Canadian electron-beam welding company, to transfer high technology. In early 2008, the team announced the first "Made in Canada" superconducting radio-frequency cavity-only five other companies in the world have this capability in what will become a globally competitive market.

This plan takes full advantage of discovery potential, impact on society, state-of-the-art technical infrastructure, a highly talented pool of scientists, engineers, technicians, entrepreneurs, and graduate and undergraduate students.

This plan aligns with the Government of Canada's new science and technology strategy by building on excellence and strengthening Canada's research and economic connections to the world-and the world back to Canada. TRIUMF has contributed to Canada's global leadership in the physical sciences and the plan supports the next generation of that success.

This plan is bold: it calls for an investment of $328 million from the Government of Canada over 2010-2015.

This plan declares that Canada can be a lead nation in the science-and-technology knowledge economy of the 21st century.


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