News Release

CNL launches new institute for alpha particle research & innovation

Canada’s national nuclear laboratory unveils Avenir, a virtual institute to drive research and commercialization opportunities using alpha emitting radionuclides.

Chalk River, ON, March 27, 2018 – Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology organization, announced today that it is leading an international effort to launch Avenir, a virtual institute for alpha particle research and innovation. Avenir will facilitate worldwide research and collaboration, expand scientific understanding of alpha particles, and serve as an incubator for the development of commercial products and services. 

“We are thrilled to announce the launch of Avenir, an international institute that will act as a springboard for research and commercial work using alpha emitting radionuclides,” commented Dr. Robert Holmes, Executive Director of Avenir and Chief Scientist at CNL. “CNL has pursued research using alpha particles for decades. With the introduction of Avenir, we hope to bring together organizations with complementary capabilities to fully explore the potential of alpha particles for academic, industrial and commercial applications.”

As Canada’s national nuclear laboratory, CNL has an extensive science and technology program that includes alpha particle research. Among other projects, CNL is investigating the health impacts of alpha particle exposure, how to harness heat generated from alpha decay to power batteries for space travel, better detection techniques for environmental remediation and decommissioning activities, and manufacturing processes to produce alpha-emitting isotopes for industrial applications. With its specialized facilities, unique capabilities in the handling and research of radioisotopes, and the necessary regulatory licenses at its Chalk River campus, CNL will serve as Avenir’s parent company, offering members a broad range of resources to facilitate their research.

“This work really wouldn’t be possible without the necessary facilities and expertise to safely work with these particles, all of which are available at CNL’s Chalk River campus,” commented Mark Lesinski, President and CEO of CNL. “CNL also has a number of active research programs delivering tangible results in multiple industries, from medical therapy and environmental remediation to energy production and industrial work. Avenir will offer organizations the opportunity to participate in this exciting work, and to further explore other areas of research.”

Most notably, CNL is also studying the use of high-energy alpha emitters for medical therapy, also known as targeted alpha therapy. The potential benefits of targeted-alpha-therapy in the battle against cancer and other diseases are significant. While existing radiation treatments target all cells in the vicinity of a tumor, both healthy and cancerous, targeted-alpha-therapy focuses the treatment application to cancerous or unhealthy cells. This limits the overall radiation dose a patient may receive, holds promise of better patient outcomes, and encourages faster recovery times. Alongside TRIUMF, CNL recently announced it would be co-hosting the 11th Targeted-Alpha-Therapy Symposium, a global forum in targeted radiopharmaceutical therapy, in April 2019.

“Targeted-alpha-therapy is one of the most promising areas of nuclear medicine, and could represent a leap forward in radiation therapy,” commented Kathy McCarthy, Vice-President of Research & Development at CNL. “But it’s only one of many applications we plan to pursue using alpha particles. With the launch of Avenir, CNL will seek to grow its research programs so we can fully harness the potential of these radionuclides.”

Avenir is now welcoming new members to the institute. For more information on Avenir, including research program and the many benefits available to its membership, please visit

About CNL 

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories is a world leader in nuclear science and technology offering unique capabilities and solutions across a wide range of industries. Actively involved with industry-driven research and development in nuclear, transportation, clean technology, energy, defence, security and life sciences, we provide solutions to keep these sectors competitive internationally.

With ongoing investments in new facilities and a focused mandate, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories is well positioned for the future. A new performance standard reinforced with a strong safety culture underscores every activity.

For more information on the complete range of Canadian Nuclear Laboratories services, please visit or contact

About Avenir

Avenir is a world leading institute for alpha particle research and innovation that was established to facilitate worldwide alpha particle research. Composed of some of the world’s leading scientific organizations, Avenir serves as an incubator for the development of commercial products and services. 

For more information on Avenir, including research programs and membership benefits, please visit



Pat Quinn
Director, Corporate Communications, 
CNL, 1-866-886-2325