Last week's symposium on medical isotopes was a triumph for its sponsors.
Inviting the Rev. Jessie Jackson to speak at the event was especially fitting for an organization that deserves broader appeal.
The potential to improve the quality of people's lives through this promising technology transcends politics.
Bringing one of the nation's most famous liberals to one of the most conservative corners of the state was a great way for Citizens for Medical Isotopes to make the point.
"Trying to figure out some way to cure diseases, to extend and expand our lives -- what a great moral mission," Jackson told about 200 people during dinner at the Three Rivers Convention Center.
"This truth's gonna rise. We're going to find a cure for cancer. We're going to find a cure for AIDS. And we're going to make this a more perfect union because we want to," Jackson added.
Scientists participating in the symposium made the same case.
Ruth Bryan, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, said research shows radioisotopes can kill HIV cells in mice.
With about 33 million people worldwide infected with HIV/ AIDS, the potential for medical isotopes to relieve human suffering is awe inspiring.
Already, medical isotopes support about 20 million clinical procedures annually in the United States. The technology has proved particularly effective in treating cancers.
A lot of people are flummoxed by the federal government's willingness to rely on foreign sources for this valuable material.
Because of the Department of Energy's misguided decision to close Hanford's Fast Flux Test Facility, most Mid-Columbians are acutely aware of the problem.
The experimental reactor could be a major source of medical isotopes, except for an incomprehensible national policy.
Speakers at the symposium took note of the vulnerability of the nation's medical isotope supply.
Last year, the shutdown of a Canadian reactor created a temporary shortage of isotopes that delayed many medical procedures, said Celestia Higano, a professor of medicine and urology at the University of Washington.
One good thing -- the Tri-Cities' connection to this healing technology will continue regardless of FFTF's fate.
The success of last week's symposium proved the local grass-roots organization, Citizens for Medical Isotopes, has a calling beyond advocating for the reactor's restart.
The economic potential also endures. Kennewick's Advanced Medical Isotope Corp. is well on its way to making Fluorine-18, which can be used to help diagnose cancerous tumors and heart problems through positron emission tomography, or PET, scans.
Jackson and other participants in the symposium made it clear that we've barely scratched the surface.
Those working to keep the Tri-Cities at the forefront ought to be commended.
Editorials are the consensus of the Tri-City Herald editorial board. Editorial board members are Rufus Friday, publisher; Chris Sivula, editorial page editor; Ken Robertson, executive editor; Matt Taylor, contributing editor; Lori Lancaster, editorial writer; Shelly Norman, editorial writer and Jack Briggs, retired publisher