13 November 2017 – International Medical University (IMU)’s Biomedical Science students who are enrolled into the “Radiobiology” selective module had the opportunity to visit the Malaysian Nuclear Agency (MNA). The module introduces the basic principles of radioactivity, radiation and their applications in biomedical sciences and research to the students. It also provides students with a basic knowledge of the physical and chemical principles underlying the design of radiopharmaceuticals. In addition, the safety and planning aspects are discussed in the module.
The visit to MNA aims to provide students with a clearer understanding on the relevant topics learnt in this module. The students visited two premises of MNA, the Gamma Greenhouse and SINAGAMA Irradiation facilities. The Gamma Greenhouse, the only chronic irradiation facility in Malaysia, is used for induction of mutation in plants and other biological samples with low dose radiation over a period of time depending on the nature and sensitivity of the plant species. In the Gamma Greenhouse, the students had the privilege of entering and observing the radiation facility with a centrally located radioactive source, where they were shown potted-plants positioned at marked distances away from the source. The plants mutated differently after exposure to the radiation source depending on their respective distances.
On the other hand, SINAGAMA Irradiation facility offers services to the public for the sterilisation of medical devices, pharmaceutical products, foods, herbs and spices, fruits, cosmetics and veterinary products. The staff in charge of the facility briefed the students on precautionary measures to ensure the safety of workers in the different areas of the facility. The students were then brought to the “clean area” of the sterilisation building where boxes of medical and laboratory equipment were ready to be transported to their respective locations. “Clean area” is the area where the annual dose received by an area worker is not likely to exceed the dose limit for a member of the public.
Commenting on the visit, Brandon Tan, a student from the programme said, “The visit to Nuclear Malaysia benefited us educationally by refining our comprehension of the various usage of radiation in different fields such as its implementation in agricultural genetic modification to produce plants with different colored flowers and the utilisation of radiation to sterilise medical equipment.”
Written by Dr Koh Rhun Yian Photos credits: Nuclear Malaysia staff