In Memoriam: Ashok K. Dhar


by Roger Moroney, CHP

Ashok Dhar, senior director for regulatory compliance at CTI Molecular Imaging in Knoxville, Tennessee, passed away on the morning of 12 May 2005 following a brief illness. Ashok was very active in the radiopharmaceutical and radiopharmacy health physics community.

Ashok was born in Srinagar, India. He received a BS in metallurgical engineering from Banaras University, Varanasi, India, in 1969, an MS in metallurgical engineering from the University of Washington in 1971, and an MS in radiological sciences/health physics, also from the University of Washington, in 1974.

Ashok began his health physics career at Sargent & Lundy Engineers in Chicago. This work involved various types of radiation protection analyses for design and engineering of commercial boiling water reactor and pressurized water reactor nuclear power plants. While at Sargent & Lundy, he established an in-house TLD-based dosimetry program for personnel radiation monitoring, in-plant nuclear power station radiation surveys, and shielding design verification of operational nuclear power plants.

In 1979 he began work at Abbott Laboratories in Chicago, his first work in the health physics of radiopharmaceutical manufacturing. Under Abbott's broadscope manufacturing and distribution license, Ashok encountered issues covering the spectrum of applied health physics, including development of the initial radiological contingency plan for the facility.

Ashok then moved on to the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre (KFSH&RC), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in 1982, where he was responsible for the start-up of the health physics program for the cyclotron/radiopharmaceutical operations and research applications. He was promoted to the head of the health physics program there in 1985.

After returning to the United States, Ashok worked briefly for the state of New Mexico at its Carlsbad office overseeing work at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. He soon returned to the radiopharmaceutical community upon joining Mallinckrodt Inc.'s Nuclear Medicine Division in May 1988. Ashok began his long stint at Mallinckrodt as the health physics supervisor and radiation safety officer for the Maryland Heights, Missouri, radiopharmaceutical manufacturing facility. After several promotions while at the Maryland Heights facility, Ashok became the manager of corporate radiological affairs for the Mallinckrodt Corporate Regulatory Compliance Department. His responsibilities expanded to encompass the global reach of the Mallinckrodt Medical Radiological Compliance Program, including not only radiopharmaceutical manufacturing, but also radiopharmacies, R&D operations, and legislative affairs. It was in this capacity that he became involved with the Council on Radionuclides and Radiopharmaceuticals, the Council of Radiation Control Program Directors, and various other professional organizations. While in St. Louis, Ashok was very active in the Greater St. Louis Chapter of the Health Physics Society, serving as president from 1993 to 1994.

After nearly 13 years with Mallinckrodt, Ashok moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he joined PETNET Pharmaceuticals as its corporate radiation safety officer. In this position he developed and implemented a comprehensive radiological protection program for its worldwide PET radiopharmacy network. Ashok was transferred to CTI Molecular Imaging, PETNET's parent company, in May 2003 to become its director of corporate compliance and safety. In this position he was responsible for CTI's Radiological Compliance and Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) programs worldwide. In January of 2004, he was promoted to senior director for Corporate Regulatory Management. This promotion added CTI/PETNET's Quality and Regulatory Compliance Group to his radiological compliance and EH&S management responsibilities.

Siemens Medical USA acquired CTI in May of 2005, and Ashok was instrumental in the extensive work undertaken before this merger was finalized on 4 May 2005. Early the following morning, Ashok suffered a heart attack and was taken to a local hospital in Knoxville. Unfortunately he was not able to see the fruit of his work on this project before passing away the following Thursday.

Ashok was very active in charitable organizations and was a man of great devotion to his family, friends, and work. His selfless approach will continue to affect people all over the world, and his legacy will live through all those he has touched. He is survived by his parents, wife of 27 years, Kunti, two sons, Suvir and Nikhil, brother Vijay and sister Sarla. We have all been blessed by the impact of his life.