Matt Sanford named executive director for University of Missouri’s Research Reactor 

Sanford brings more than 30 years of experience to the role.

Matt Sanford
Matt Sanford

July 13, 2023
Contact: Uriah Orland, 573-882-6212,   

University of Missouri President Mun Choi has announced Matt Sanford as executive director for the University of Missouri’s Research Reactor (MURR). In this role, Sanford will oversee all aspects of the most powerful university research reactor in the United States. Sanford has served as interim director since November 2022.   

“MURR is a world-class facility built from the hard work of countless former contributors and my current colleagues, and I’m honored to serve as the executive director,” Sanford said. “Continuing the decades-long legacy and innovations produced at MU and MURR is not something I take lightly. I know the work of the team at MURR is saving and improving lives every day.”  

As interim director, Sanford helped launch the initiative for NextGen MURR, a new, state-of-the-art reactor that will benefit Missourians and patients across the country and the world. Sanford has also played a key role in overseeing the new $20 million, three-story expansion to the existing MURR facility, scheduled for completion in fall 2024. The addition will expand the facility’s production space and testing laboratories to offer researchers and their students more resources to discover life-saving treatments.  

“I’m grateful for Matt’s leadership and his vision for nuclear medicine and science,” Choi said. “The university has a 50+ year record of operating a safe research reactor with a history of innovations in the biomedical and scientific fields.  I’m confident Matt will continue to elevate MURR as the world’s pre-eminent research reactor for fighting cancer.”  

Before serving in the interim role, Sanford worked as associate director in charge of the products and services group, which manufactures cancer-fighting radioisotopes, along with other important services and products for researchers, startups, pharmaceutical companies and others.  

“This is an exciting time for MURR and for the entire university,” said Michael Williams, chair of the UM Board of Curators. “Looking ahead, Matt will play a key role in the NextGen MURR initiative, which will keep Missouri at the center of cancer research and medicine for years to come.” 

MURR’s innovative design and operating cycle — operating year-round, 24 hours a day, 6.5 days a week, 52 weeks a year — enables MURR to produce the active ingredients in multiple FDA-approved drugs. More than 1.6 million patients a year are diagnosed or treated using the radioisotopes that MURR produces. Because of MURR’s unique capabilities, it is a vital resource for patients, health care providers, researchers and industrial partners across the globe. 

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