John A. Zehner

CEO and Partner, SpectronRx

“Without me knowing at the time, Dr. Stanley Shaw and Dr. Mark Green started my career with outstanding teaching of a unique aspect of the practice of Pharmacy. Both were my professors and provided me with the knowledge to capture various opportunities within Nuclear Medicine. The Nuclear Pharmacy program at Purdue also played a large role by providing me with an opportunity to experience a summer job in Nuclear Pharmacy. I am not sure I would have pursued Nuclear Pharmacy without experiencing it firsthand.”

BS 1991, Pharmacy, Purdue University

Career Highlights
  • In 1993, co-founded an independent nuclear pharmacy near Washington, DC that has allowed me to work for myself and be creative.
  • Created a multi-national cyclotron company that was one of the first to produce Fludeoxy Glucose F18 (F-18 FDG), which has become a standard to millions in cancer detection.
  • Installed the first and largest privately-owned cyclotron (70 MeV) in the world to help solve a major shortage of Rubidium 82 used for cardiac imaging. Did it again five years later.
  • In 2020, my company synthesized a ‘first in humans’ Actinium 225 IND drug to treat prostate cancer for a large pharma company by processing 1950’s nuclear warheads. Originally designed to eliminate humans and turned it to something to help extend life, ‘Missiles to Medicine!’.
  • In 2023, my company produced Ac-225 on a cyclotron from Thorium 232. We are the first privately held company to produce Ac-225 with this method and will use similar processing methods for our Radium 226 to Ac-225 method. There is a worldwide critical shortage of Ac-225 due to the lack of old nuclear warheads vs. the patient demand.

John A. Zehner graduated from Purdue in 1991 and began his career as a staff Nuclear Pharmacist the same year in Washington DC with RLS Nuclear Pharmacy (fka Amersham, Nycomed-Amersham, and GE Health Care). He co-founded Sofie in 1993 (fka Northern Virginia Isotopes, Eastern Isotopes, IBA Medical, and Zevacor). In 2003, he sold Eastern Isotopes for an enterprise value of $40M and formed NukeMed, Inc (dba SpectronRx). At SpectronRx, Mr. Zehner is the CEO and partner. SpectronRx is a Contract Manufacturing and Development Organization that specializes in Radiopharmaceuticals, specifically Targeted Radiotherapies with Alpha and Beta radiation. SpectronRx has recently announced its efforts to address the critical shortage of Actinium 225 by irradiating Radium 226, which is highly radioactive with a 1600-year half-life.  This process has never been done before on a commercial level.

John is married to Lori (Purdue School of Management 1992) with daughters Kayla (Purdue Liberal Arts 2022), Paige (Purdue Class of 2024, Krannert), and Maci (Class of 2024, Bishop Chatard High School).