Belgium, a world leader in nuclear science and technology for healthcare

The early interest of the country in nuclear activities, focused at a very early stage on healthcare applications, brought Belgium to a very high level of development in isotope production, labelling techniques, radiopharmacy, dosimetry and clinical applications, not to mention supporting activities such as specialised transport or education and training.

A leading European country in nuclear science and technology for healthcare

One of the major producers ofradionuclides for radiopharmaceuticalsworldwide

By the end of the 90’s, alongside Germany, Belgium became not only the leading European country but also the country worldwide with one of the highest densities of nuclear medicine equipment per capita. This translated into a very high density of medical physics, chemist, pharmacists, and nuclear physicians. With the presence of the SCK CEN, the Belgian Nuclear Research centre, and IRE, the Institute for Radioelements, Belgium is one of the two major producers of radionuclides for radiopharmaceuticals worldwide, in particular of Mo-99 (Molybdenum-99), mother isotope of Tc-99m (Technetium-99m).

Today, only two reactors in the world can produce this radioisotope in quantities required for the world demand, among them the powerful research reactor BR2 from SCK-CEN in Mol. On a yearly basis, SCK-CEN produces one third of the radioisotopes used worldwide for diagnostic and treatments of cancers.


IRE, one of the two major locations worldwide for Mo-99 (Molybdenum-99) processing, supplies the isotope to generator manufacturers. IRE produces itself the top-of-the-line Galli-Eo Ga-68 (Gallium-68) generator. More than 95% of IRE’s production is exported.

Together, SCK CEN and IRE assure 100% of the Mo-99 world needs when required.

Over the past decade new cancer therapies based on alpha or beta emitting radioisotopes have shown highly convincing results and Belgian centres are involved in various clinical trials with potentially high future impacts.

Each year, medical radioisotopes produced in Belgium allow more than 10 million patients to benefit from the most advanced nuclear medicine procedures.

IBA (Ion Beam Applications) is the leading company in cyclotron-based applications. More than 250 cyclotrons for radiopharmaca production in nuclear medicine departments have been installed by IBA.

Radiotherapeutic applications started more than a century ago in Belgian hospitals. Accelerator based techniques, and in particular proton therapy, have rapidly evolved over the past few years. In proton therapy too, IBA is today the leading company in the world.

A global leader in all links innuclear medicine

Belgium is a global leader in all links required for the clinical practice in nuclear medicine and for the applications of nuclear science and technology in healthcare worldwide. From the production and refinement of radioisotopes over transport, generator production, labelling and radiopharmaceuticals, imaging equipment, pre-clinical and clinical studies to daily practice, Belgium excels in all steps of the value chain. Because of its long-term commitment to the development of nuclear civilian applications, Belgium has among the largest numbers of experts in this domain, including a dedicated staff in university laboratories and research centres, and a strong expertise regarding the educational aspects.

Belgium, and Brussels in particular, is also host major agencies and associations, both national and international.