The Crystal Clear Collaboration (CCC) was set up in 1990 with the aim to study gamma ray detection methods for use in basic research in subatomic physics. This project was quite successful and several among the new detection methods and new scintillating materials developed are now widely used in fundamental research. This success was only possible because we had set-up a multidisciplinary team involving world experts in subatomic physics, experts in the physics of optical materials, and experts in the development of instrumentation for the detection of sub atomic particles.
In 1995 Stefaan Tavernier became spokesman of the collaboration, and the focus moved towards the development of instrumentation for gamma ray detection in biomedical applications, and more in particular to the development of a new and improved technology for Positron Emission Tomography (PET). PET is a powerful medical imaging technology used in many clinical applications such as the detection and diagnosis of malign carcinoma, the study and development of new pharmaceutical drugs, and in post-genomic research.
The Crystal Clear Collaboration develops crystals, photo-detectors, electronics, simulation software, and data acquisition software for PET. The collaboration has a number of ongoing common research projects with biomedical research groups throughout Europe and has a number of collaborations with commercial companies.
The aim of the present application for funding is to allow the VUB team to participate more actively in the European research consortium Crystal Clear. More particularly we will concentrate on the development of high resolution small animal PET scanners and the development of dedicated PET machines for mammography (PEM). These two subjects will make use of the same or very similar technologies, but the biomedical applications are quite different. These applications are also in a very different stage of development. There is a clearly identified and generally recognised need for high performance small animal PET scanners. These will mainly be used as a tool in drug development and as a research tool in post-genomic research. The importance of PEM as a clinical tool is much less certain. However, if successful, the social impact of this research will be enormous.
The Crystal Clear Collaboration is also setting up a collaboration with CTI and the Karolinska Institute Stockholm on a common development of a whole body PET scanner, and has been approached for developing dedicated PET scanners for monitoring the beam energy delivery in hadrontherapy, but the team at the VUB will focus its contribution on the area of small animal PET and PEM.