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SNM Past President Alexander J. (Sandy) McEwan Named Special Advisor to Canada's Minister of Health

by Barbara Kram, Editor | June 17, 2009
Dr. McEwan is Special Advisor
on Medical Isotopes to Canada's
Minister of Health
TORONTO-Former SNM President Alexander J. (Sandy) McEwan, director of oncologic imaging at Cross Cancer Institute, Edmonton, Alberta, and professor and chair of oncology at the University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine, has been appointed Special Advisor on Medical Isotopes by Canada's Minister of Health. The appointment was announced during SNM's 56th Annual Meeting, held June 13-17 in Toronto. SNM is a national scientific and professional organization of more than 17,000 physicians, technologists and scientists.

"The Canadian Health Ministry made an excellent decision in appointing Sandy McEwan, an accomplished nuclear medicine physician and a proven leader," said SNM President Robert W. Achter. "A continuous supply of medical isotopes is essential to ensure that patients have access to critical nuclear medicine and molecular imaging tools. Dr. McEwan can provide the sound guidance the Health Minister needs to move forward on these issues."

Canadian Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq appointed McEwan to the role to address concerns about medical isotope supplies after the closing of a 50-year-old nuclear reactor in Chalk River, Ontario. The reactor was one of only five reactors in the world that produce molybdenum-99 (Mo 99), which is used to produce the medical isotope technetium-99m. The isotope is used in more than 20 million diagnostic nuclear imaging procedures each year and in approximately 85 percent of diagnostic imaging procedures in nuclear medicine.

McEwan served as SNM president from 2007 to 2008. A member of the Health Canada Ad Hoc Group of Experts on Medical Isotopes since the group was formed in 2007, he will work with the group to provide on-the-ground updates on the isotope situation and how patients are being affected. He will advise the health minister on the use of alternatives and mitigation strategies and on short- and long-term strategies for retaining a supply of medical isotopes.

"These medical isotopes are crucial for supplying the best possible health care to Canadians," said McEwan. "I am looking forward to working with the Minister of Health to ensure that the full range of options is considered and the best possible decisions are made to maintain proper isotope supplies."

Prior to holding his current positions, McEwan was a resident in nuclear medicine at the Royal Naval Hospital, Haslar, United Kingdom, and in radiation oncology at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. McEwan received his M.Sc. degree in nuclear medicine and his medical degree from the University of London, United Kingdom, and he served as a medical officer with the Royal Navy.