RSU acquired its status as a university in 2002, however its historical roots extend back to Rīga Medical Institute, founded in 1950 on the base of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Latvia, and in 1990 was renamed as the Medical Academy of Latvia. The vast majority of medical professionals working in various fields in Latvia have acquired their education at Rīga Stradiņš University. Nowadays RSU trains not only doctors, dentists, pharmacists and nurses, but also specialists in rehabilitation, public healthcare, social sciences and law. RSU focuses on the specialities which are greatly needed by the society and the State.
RSU is one of the most internationally-oriented institutions of higher education in the Baltic States. It has achieved it due to the precisely planned development strategy aimed at becoming a modern European university of life sciences. RSU has 9 faculties and about 8000 students. The university has the biggest number of international students in the Baltic States – around 2000 constituting 25% of the total number of students at the university. The majority of students are studying in the faculties of Medicine, Nursing and Rehabilitation. Approximately 20 % of the students at RSU study social sciences, communication and law.
RSU holds a unique place in the scientific field of Latvia providing a full research cycle from the laboratory to the hospital bed. This applies particularly to such research fields of public importance as oncology, infections, paediatrics, rehabilitation and dentistry. RSU is a leading academic research institution in the fields of medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, rehabilitation and nursing sciences. Research in social sciences, humanities and law for which RSU has a significant intellectual and theoretical base, is becoming increasingly important. An ever-increasing attention is paid to the transfer of knowledge and technologies by integrating knowledge in the basic functions of the University, and also transforming knowledge into products and services that are useful to the society.Rīga Stradiņš University
Along with the rapid development of elementary particle physics in the early 20th century, the most fundamental research tool available to physicians at that time was a particle accelerator – a device that uses electric fields for artificial acceleration of diverse particles. The areas of research covered particle behaviour during acceleration, likewise the correlation of accelerated particles with motionless matter. In 1930 the American scientist working at the University of California Ernest O. Lawrence came up with an improved version of the commonly applied linear accelerator, exposing the accelerated particle beam to a strong magnetic field which resulted in the invention of cyclotron, where charged particles accelerate along a spiral path to obtain beams of high-energy particles using a comparatively small laboratory area. This invention brought him the Nobel Prize in physics in 1939.
The most common radionuclide used in the PET scans is Fluorine-18 produced through irradiation of Oxygen-18 enriched water targets by cyclotron accelerated proton beam.
Oxygen-18 has 8 protons and 10 neutrons which, when exposed to an accelerated proton beam, absorbs proton and loses neutron, resulting in artificial isotope – Fluorine-18 consisting of 9 protons and 9 neutrons. The radionuclide is integrated into glucose molecule to acquire injectable preparation – fludeoxyglucose (FDG).
In case there are tumour cells in the human body, due to increased metabolic rate, tumour cells consume more glucose than ordinary cells and thanks to Fluorine-18 radioactive decay make it possible to map the location of the tumour cells with high precision.
Cyclotrons are commonly used for the production of FDG worldwide. FDG was first used in the early 1970ies in the United States where researchers from the National Institutes of Health and the University of Pennsylvania discovered that the compound could be successfully used to map brain metabolism.
Since then the scope of the application of FDG in the world has rapidly grown and as for today around 75% of all cyclotrons installed globally are applied for the production of FDG. Another less common cyclotron produced PET radionuclides are: Carbon-13, Nitrogen-15 and Nitrogen-13. In 2010 there were around 700 cyclotrons installed globally by experiencing particularly sharp increase in the period of time form 2009 – 2012. Over the course of time cyclotrons have improved a lot – a complex form magnetic system allows to reduce the relativistic impact on the accelerated beam whereas the improved beam reaction ensures effective cyclotron operation by ensuring enhanced radiation safety.
The Nuclear Medicine Centre in Riga is proud of its own cyclotron complex installed to serve the purpose of putting into practice the intention of Ernest O. Lawrence and other notable physicians of the 20th century – make scientific achievements as a tool allowing to overcome the emerging healthcare challenges.Rīga Nuclear Medicine Centre
The laboratory investigates approaches in nuclear medicine, especially Positron emission tomography computed tomography (PET/CT) profiting from the proximity to Riga Nuclear Medicine Centre and cyclotron. Board-certified radiologists, nuclear medicine specialists, pathologists and technicians in chemistry and physics compose the multidisciplinary staff of the laboratory.
Laboratory provides support to PhD students, residents in medicine, undergraduate and postgraduate students in the research projects and actively popularizes the radiological science. A scientific partner network includes all the main national clinical hospitals and facilities in Latvia, as well as active international collaboration has been developed.
Currently the studies have been performed with radiopharmaceuticals such as Fluordeoxyglucose (18F), Gallium-68 Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen, etc.
Fluordeoxyglucose (18F) – research works on common tumors (e.g., lymphoma, comparative studies with other diagnostic methods).
Gallium-68 Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen – research work on prostate cancer diagnostics.
The research has been made in collaboration with Rīga Stradiņš University Radiology Scientific laboratory, main hospitals of Latvia such as Rīga East University Hospital, Pauls Stradiņš Clinical University Hospital, Children’s Clinical University Hospital, Daugavpils Regional Hospital, etc.Rīga Stradiņš University Nuclear Medicine Clinic is always open for new scientific projects and challenges.
One of the main differences between PET scans and other imaging tests like computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is that the PET scan reveals the cellular level metabolic changes occurring in an organ or tissue. This is important and unique because disease processes often begin with functional changes at the cellular level. A PET scan can often detect these very early changes whereas a CT or MRI detect changes later as the disease begins to cause changes in the anatomical structure of organs or tissues. A cancer that’s diagnosed at an early stage, before it has had a chance to get too big or spread is more likely to be treated successfully. If the cancer has spread, the treatment becomes more difficult, and generally a person’s chances of surviving are much lower.