The late 1960s was an exciting time in the field of nuclear medicine and the lives of those who worked in Oak Ridge Associated Universities' (ORAU) Medical Division.
The division had quickly become the mecca for physicians and scientists working to use radioactive drugs to diagnose and treat diseases. Essential to the use of these new techniques was the calculation of how much radiation dose a patient would receive, an activity that filled many a day for Roger J. Cloutier, who had come to ORAU in 1959 as a radiation safety officer.
With more and more isotopes being discovered as effective diagnostic and treatment tools, Cloutier recognized the increasing demand for dosimetry information and the opportunity to establish a formal program to meet this demand. He traveled to Washington, D.C., where he obtained funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Food and Drug Administration to support a new Internal Dosimetry Center, now known as the Radiation Internal Dose Information Center, at ORAU. Cloutier headed the center, working with Patricia Dalton and Evelyn Watson.
Cloutier was also involved in ORAU’s Special Training Division, which taught courses in radioisotope techniques to scientists and physicians. He assumed the directorship of this division, now called ORAU's Professional Training Programs, in 1974. The training program is one of ORAU's most enduring programs, established in 1948 at the request of the Atomic Energy Commission.
Since that time, more than 1,000 training classes have been completed, and the course offerings have expanded far beyond the original radioisotope techniques course. Today, ORAU offers radiation sciences and health physics training in environmental monitoring, gamma spectroscopy, air sampling for radioactive materials, applied health physics, radiation safety, air sampling, site characterization, the Multi-Agency Radiation Survey and Site Investigation Manual (MARSSIM), and diagnostic X-ray physics.
Under Cloutier’s and other managers’ leadership, more than 25,000 individuals attended courses in Oak Ridge, with another 25,000 to 30,000 people participating in courses abroad. During the 1960s, ORAU had mobile laboratories, and ORAU estimates that well over 10,000 college students and faculty were trained in these specialized labs.
During his 33-year career at ORAU, Cloutier held several positions in addition to radiation safety officer and division head of ORAU's Professional Training Programs. He also worked as a senior scientist and head of medical physics and instrumentation. Before coming to ORAU, Cloutier was an associate engineer with the Atomic Power Department at Westinghouse, an Atomic Energy Commission Radiologic Physics Fellow and a summer research participant at Brookhaven National Laboratory.
He received his B.S. in zoology and physics from the University of Massachusetts and his M.S. in radiation biology from the University of Rochester. He became a certified health physicist in 1963 with the American Board of Health Physics.
Cloutier lectured extensively in the United States and Latin America, and was a member of several professional associations including the Health Physics Society, the Radiation Protection Association, and the Society of Nuclear Medicine.
He retired from ORAU in January 1992, but continues to remain involved in activities with other ORAU retirees. He also continues to make public speaking engagements.