Nuclear Research in Medicine after the Second World War

Mar 20 – Mar 21, 2023 

Con­fer­ence at the Med­ical Uni­ver­si­ty of Vien­na and the Aus­tri­an Acad­e­my of Sci­ences in Vienna

We seek pro­pos­als for a con­fer­ence on the his­to­ry of nuclear research in med­i­cine. The con­fer­ence will be held at the Med­ical Uni­ver­si­ty of Vien­na and the Aus­tri­an Acad­e­my of Sci­ences in Vien­na from the 20th to 21st of March 2023. Dead­line for sub­mis­sions is the 15th of Novem­ber 2022.

Nuclear research in med­i­cine relies on a high degree of inter­ac­tion. While the pro­duc­tion of radioiso­topes and the devel­op­ment of med­ical devices are car­ried out by physi­cists and engi­neers, chemists and phar­ma­cists take over the syn­the­ses of radio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, while physi­cians focus on their appli­ca­tion. In the absence of hand­books, indus­tri­al­ly avail­able devices, and radioiso­topes, ear­ly spe­cial­ists were also depen­dent on mul­ti­lat­er­al exchanges. These were fos­tered by post-war agree­ments for the peace­ful use of atom­ic ener­gy and inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions such as the IAEA and WHO. Thus, the for­ma­tion of nuclear med­i­cine as dis­ci­pline was the result of a glob­al bal­anc­ing and stan­dard­iza­tion process dur­ing the Cold War era. Its ori­gins are traced in the first broad clin­i­cal appli­ca­tions of radioiso­topes pri­mar­i­ly in the Unit­ed States and the Unit­ed King­dom just before the Sec­ond World War and con­tin­ued with the world­wide dis­sem­i­na­tion of rel­e­vant knowl­edge and tech­niques that were main­ly trig­gered by the Unit­ed Nations inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions. Nev­er­the­less, in many coun­tries, nuclear med­i­cine did not get rec­og­nized as a med­ical spe­cial­ty with sep­a­rate res­i­den­cy train­ing until the 1990s.

This sym­po­sium focus­es on the emer­gence of nuclear med­i­cine as an out­come of sci­en­tif­ic col­lab­o­ra­tion and com­pe­ti­tion, bound­ary and inter­dis­ci­pli­nary work, and encoun­ters between var­i­ous (inter)national stake­hold­ers, as well as polit­i­cal, diplo­mat­ic, and sci­en­tif­ic insti­tu­tions. We wel­come con­tri­bu­tions that address the sci­en­tif­ic, polit­i­cal, diplo­mat­ic, and social dimen­sions of these inter­ac­tions, the knowl­edge, resources, and poli­cies involved.

Poten­tial top­ics include:

- Transna­tion­al coop­er­a­tion and com­pe­ti­tion among researchers, clin­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers, insti­tu­tions and disciplines
– Shar­ing of nuclear med­i­cine knowl­edge, meth­ods, mate­ri­als, and spaces with­in Europe and around the globe
– Devel­op­ment of stan­dards, rules, man­u­als, and measuring/imaging devices
– Polit­i­cal, social, and gen­dered aspects of sci­en­tif­ic inter­ac­tion, licens­ing, and reg­u­la­to­ry gov­er­nance of the field
– Safe­ty, secu­ri­ty, and dis­pos­al of radioac­tive waste pro­duced by nuclear med­ical practices
– Hier­ar­chies and net­works of exchange

We are plan­ning this sym­po­sium to be an in-per­son event, con­sist­ing of a wel­come recep­tion at the Med­ical Uni­ver­si­ty of Vien­na on the evening of March 20 and lec­tures on the premis­es of the Aus­tri­an Acad­e­my of Sci­ences on March 21. The sym­po­sium will take place in Eng­lish and is free of charge.

Abstract sub­mis­sion
To apply, please send an abstract (no longer than 250 words), a brief bio, and con­tact infor­ma­tion (all in one word file) to Johannes Mattes,, by 15 Novem­ber 2022. We will let you know about our deci­sion by mid-Decem­ber. Part of our plan is to pub­lish a col­lec­tive peer-reviewed spe­cial jour­nal issue based on the final sub­mis­sions of the participants.