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History of Medical Physics in Iran

A brief history of Medical Physics in Iran

Compiled by Nima Kasraie

The first x-ray units to be imported to Iran are those purchased by a certain Ebrahim Khan Sahhafbashi, during the Constitutionalist era of Iran in the early 1900s.[1] In 1930, Mahmoud Hesabi, a renowned physicist in Iran, attempted to make the first x-ray unit in Iran using technical know-how from his French colleagues at Sorbonne.

The use of radiation emitting equipment in medicine in Iran dates back to 1960 when efforts were made to quantify in-vivo Iodine at Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS). Back then, foreign experts from developed nations, namely Malcolm Cuthbert Nokes(from England), Dr. Van Heerden (from South Africa), Dr. Hisada (from Japan), and others were active in nuclear medicine projects in Iran and played a major role in advancing the field in the country.

In 1961 Sadegh Nezam Mafi, began research with a thyroid scanner at Tehran’s Rhazes Hospital and went on to become Iran’s ‘father of nuclear medicine’. In 1966, Iran’s first nuclear medicine clinic opened at TUMS, which was equipped with an Anger camera. Iran’s first gamma camera was actually a gift that originated from a British company by the name of EKCO (E.K. Cole Ltd.) in 1962. [2]

During this time, outside Iran, an Iranian trained physician by the name of Abbas Alavi, who was a student and a member of David Kuhl's team, was making cutting edge advances in SPECT and molecular imaging. He went on to become a pioneer in PET tracer development several years later at The University of Pennsylvania. Figure 1 shows one of the first ever whole-brain (planar) and tomographic FDG images of brainfunction of a normal volunteer reveal high concentration of the agent incortical and subcortical gray matter.[4]

Figure 1

The first time Tc-99m was used was at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Hospital (former Pahlavi Hospital) in 1971 as a result of another gift, this time by a private donor named as “Mrs. Gharegozlu”.[2]The same hospital is also where Iran’s first radiotherapy clinic started operation in 1968 using a Co-68 source. And only a few years later Linac systems started working in patient clinics. Figure 2 shows a government issued postage stamp celebrating the technology in the 1970s.

Figure 2

In 1966, The Iranian Society of Radiology was founded. A year later, in 1967, Iran’s first research nuclear reactor was inaugurated at Tehran’s Amir Abad area. The 5MW reactor had several beamlines for producing radioisotopes, and was built by the American firm AMF Atomics. President Lyndon B. Johnson described the center as such:

“an operating laboratory and a meeting-ground where Iranian scientists and ours will work side-by-side to learn more about nuclear energy and the many blessings that its peaceful development promises for mankind”.[3]

Finally, in 1991, the Iranian Medical Physics Association was established and in 1993, Iran became a member of the International Medical Physics Organization (IOMP). By 2007, Iran had 93 members in the organization.


[1]: Iran and the Surrounding World: Interactions in Culture and Cultural Politics. NR. Keddie, R Matthee. University of Washington Press. 2011. ISBN0295800240. p.255

[2]: Aftab newspaper interview with Sadegh Nezam Mafi, Jun 14, 2008. Link: http://www.aftabir.com/articles/view/health_therapy/medical_science/c13c1213430697_doctor_sadegh_nezam_mafi_p1.php/گفتگو-با-دکتر-صادق-نظام-مافی-بنیان-گذار-پزشکی

[3]: Iran and the Nuclear Question: History and Evolutionary Trajectory. M. Homayounvash. Taylor and Francis. 2016. ISBN 1317197658 p.20

[4]: The conception of FDG-PET imaging.Alavi A, Reivich M. SeminNucl Med. 2002 Jan;32(1):2-5.

Last Updated (Tuesday, 14 August 2018 23:29)

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