Since its founding in 1981, CIL and its people have been committed to high-quality stable isotope-labeled products, superior customer service, innovative new products, and a breadth of product lines.

history 1981 – joel bradley


Cambridge Isotope Laboratories is founded by Joel C. Bradley, PhD, MIT, to provide isotopically labeled research compounds and NMR solvents to the new and developing commercial market for stable isotope-labeled compounds. The company is located at 287 Albany Street, Cambridge, MA, and has four employees and one international distributor.

Dr. Bradley graduated from Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME, in 1970 and received his PhD degree from MIT, Cambridge, MA, in 1975. From 1975 to 1976, Bradley was employed by Koch Isotope Corp., Boston, MA, and from 1976 to 1981, was employed by KOR Isotopes, Cambridge, MA.

history 1983 – early CIL location


CIL relocates its 10 employees from a second-story walkup in Cambridge, MA, to a larger space in Woburn, MA, to accommodate its expanding staff and laboratories.

CIL provides PCB and PCDF standards in response to transformer fires in Binghamton, NY, and San Francisco, CA, which emitted PCBs and PCDFs into the atmosphere.

history 1984 – CIL expands products


“Cambridge Isotope Laboratories, 20 Commerce Way, Woburn, MA, USA 01810, announces that is is expanding its current product line fo stable isotope labeled compounds and unlabeled analytical standards for the chlorinated dibenzodioxins and dibenzofurans. In addition to the various forms of labeled and unlabeled 2,3,7,8 Tetrachlorodibenzodioxin (TCDD) and 2,3,7,8 Tetrachlorodibenzofuran (TCDF) which are currently available, Cambridge Isotope Laboratories now offers three new 1,2,3,4 TCDD isomer standards for dioxin analyses...”

CIL begins isotopic gas separation of helium-3.

history 1985 – Times Beach, MO


CIL develops standards for EPA assessment of the contamination at Times Beach, MO, which was the “largest civilian exposure to dioxin in the United States.”

Plagued by dust problems due to miles of unpaved roads, Russell Bliss of Bliss Waste Oil Company was hired to spray waste oil onto the area’s highways to contain the spread of dust. Some of the waste had come from a facility operated by NEPACCO, which had once produced Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. Dioxin levels in samples of analyzed waste clay were found to be several thousand times higher than those in Agent Orange itself. Following the deaths of more than 60 horses, the CDC launched an investigation. The government sued NEPACCO in 1980, and panic gripped the town as numerous illnesses, miscarriages, and animal deaths were attributed to the dioxin contamination. The site of Times Beach has since been reborn as Route 66 State Park, where experiments in 2012 showed no significant health risks from its original contamination. Today, a grassy mound hides the remains of the abandoned city’s original structures, while an old roadhouse – the last remaining building in Times Beach that had once been used by the EPA – now serves as the park’s visitor center.

history 1986 – over 1,000 products


After just five years in business, CIL is manufacturing over 1,000 unique stable isotope-labeled products for many different applications. Featured above are just some of the products now available.

Cambridge Isotope Laboratories founds CIL Japan and establishes offices in Osaka and Tokyo.

history 1987 – Xenia expansion


Construction begins on a $3.2 million 13C-separation facility, Cambridge Isotope Separations (CIS), in Xenia, OH, the largest facility of its kind.

CIL supplies standards for an epidemiological study of the long-term effects of dioxins found in Agent Orange. From 1962-1971, millions of gallons of toxic herbicides/defoliants were sprayed over vast areas of South Vietnam, which exposed almost five million people, mostly civilians, to deadly consequences. These herbicides, most notably Agent Orange, contained dioxin, one of the most dangerous chemicals known to man. It has been recognized by the World Health Organization as a carcinogen and by the American Academy of Medicine as a teratogen. The Veterans Administration determined there is “evidence of exposure to Agent Orange for Air Force and Air Force Reserve members who served during the period 1969 through 1986 and regularly and repeatedly operated, maintained, or served onboard C-123 aircraft”... and “that certain diseases are a result of exposure to these herbicides.” REM’s 1988 song “Orange Crush” is a reference to Agent Orange; lead singer Michael Stipe’s father served in the Vietnam war.

history 1988 – CIL annual report cover


In 1988, CIL:

• Ships its first algal biosynthetic products, which are of interest to investigators in molecular biology, as well as protein and DNA studies.

• Now offers a new group of environmental standards to analytical laboratories for compliance with US EPA requirements for analysis of priority pollutants in soil, groundwater, and the atmosphere.

• Begins in-house manufacturing of NMR solvents.

• Establishes its first field sales force.

CIL acquires the stable isotope division of ICN Biomedicals, which was a direct competitor producing and marketing many of the same research products as CIL. 

CIL signs an agreement with Celgene Corporation, which grants exclusive rights to CIL for the supply of a number of 13C-labeled biochemicals. The first products offered through CIL will be sugars, amino acids, and intermediary metabolites such as lactic acid and pyruvic acids.

history 1989 – NMR spectrometer


CIL makes significant acquisitions in analytical and production equipment – a 300 MHz high-field nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, a quadrupole mass spectrometer (for isotopic analysis), and a high-performance liquid chromotography separation system.

Pictured above is General Electric's QE-300 FT-NMR spectrometer. The 300-MHz superconducting magnet provides better dispersion, faster analysis and easier interpretation. NMR systems help researchers investigate fundamental properties of biological molecules. 

history 1990 – CIS construction completed


Construction at CIL’s carbon-13 separation facility in Xenia, Ohio, is completed. This plant is the most important investment CIL has ever made. CIL becomes a manufacturer of carbon-13 and is now able to produce 25 kilograms/year. Extensive testing has been performed to ensure the integrity of the hundreds of welded/soldered joints in the three miles of stainless-steel tubing contained in the separation columns. More than five miles of wire and thermocouples have been installed and tested. The availability of larger quantities of 13C is integral to the development of expanded clinical applications.

The Carbon-13 Breath Tests. CIL expands its services to include breath test analysis, now supplying 13C-labeled substrates, breath-collection kits, and stable isotope ratio analysis of breath samples. These breath tests are based on the principle of producing a 13C-labeled compound, feeding it to a patient, and then following its rate of metabolism by measuring the 13C content in the patient’s breath. Breath-gas analysis is an important tool for diagnostic and medical research and offers several advantages over other diagnostic methods. It is noninvasive, simple, convenient, requires only a small oral dose of labeled substrates, and can be quickly and painlessly administered in an outpatient clinic or private office. Research applications include studies of fat malabsorption, hepatic function, glucose metabolism, and more.

history 1991 – CIS cascade


CIL’s new isotope-separation plant, completed last year, requires a year to cool down its two-mile cascade of stainless-steel columns and tubing used for the cryogenic separation of stable isotopes. The plant houses more than two miles of stainless-steel distillation columns and tubing. All columns operate independently, which provides considerable flexibility to separate different isotopes in the same system.

CIL is now producing bulk supplies of carbon-13 and carbon-12 isotopic gases and raw materials, as well as labeled compounds such as lipids, amino acids, sugars, and breath-test substrates used for metabolic research and nutrition studies.

CIL now has the ability to produce carbon-12 raw material in a significantly greater capacity than has ever been available. Scientists at General Electric announce the successful production of isotopically pure carbon-12 diamonds, which have 50% higher thermal conductivities and ten times higher thresholds to laser damage than natural diamonds. Potential new uses for these carbon-12 diamonds include wear-resistant cutting tools, high-performance surface coatings, and high-thermal-capacity semiconductor applications.

history 1992 – annual report cover


1992 Annual Report Cover. Scientists study fossils, like the one on the cover, as markers of previous times to gain information about animal and plant species, as well as geologic phenomena. By using markers made of isotope-labeled chemical compounds, scientists gain insight into the chemical environment in which we live. 

CIL becomes the first company to successfully produce large quantities of pure, isotope-labeled amino acids from cell biomass using a proprietary method developed by CIL chemists. Labeled amino acids and sugars can be fed to bacteria that produce isotopically labeled proteins, sugars, and DNA molecules.

Monitoring the Environment. CIL expands its environmental product line with performance evaluation standards for dioxins and furans, which are made from specially prepared samples of soil and fish flesh. CIL standards have been used by the world’s leading analytical labs for more than 10 years and are universally accepted as the definitive standards in the field.

history 1993 – new Andover location


CIL purchases a new facility in Andover, MA, and begins construction of state-of-the art laboratories. 

CIL establishes the first privately funded isotope research grant program. As a measure of its commitment to the field of stable isotopes, CIL sets aside $100,000 of carbon-13-labeled materials to be granted in support of novel research using stable isotopes. Over 70 proposals are received from researchers interested in developing new applications or detection methods for stable isotopes, as well as from synthetic chemists who are pursuing novel synthetic routes for organic materials. In the fall of 1993, CIL awards 38 research grants in the amount of $98,000 to support research utilizing stable isotopes in the fields of NMR, MRS, and mass spectrometry.

CIL acquires the assets of MSD Isotopes from Merck Frosst of Canada, a major competitor and oldest stable isotope company in the industry.

history 1994 – new Andover lab


CIL relocates to its new site in Andover, MA, where all lab operations are under one roof with space for expansion.

The new 45,000-square-foot facility features state-of-the-art production and NMR solvent laboratories, as well as a dedicated separations lab, GMP lab, and a climate-controlled packaging area. The new, innovative quality control lab houses two NMRs and GC-MS and other analytical instrumentation.

CIL also:

• implements cGMP programs; introduces first generation of cell growth media
• establishes biochemical synthesis facility in Canada
• constructs first 18O columns

history 1995 – OJ Simpson trial catalog cover


“Stable Isotopes 1994-1995” catalog is introduced as evidence in the OJ Simpson “trial of the century,” described as the most publicized criminal trial in American history. CIL labeled compounds were used in an effort to verify forensic sample authenticity. 

Defense lawyer Johnnie Cochran told the jury, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit." An estimated 150 million people watch as the “not guilty” verdict is read in OJ Simpson’s trial.

Click here to view a portion of the trial transcript that mentions CIL's standards...

history 1996 – CIS expansion


CIL makes a significant expansion of the production capacity of 13C-separation at CIS to meet the growing demand. 

Bio-Express™ Cell Growth Media 
CIL introduces Bio-Express™, a fully rich media for cell growth and expression of isotopically labeled biomolecules in microbial systems. Bio-Express ushers in a new generation of possibilities by supplying cells with all the nutrients required for optimum growth and expression of protein.

history 1997 – new catalog cover


CIL introduces its 1997-98 catalog in conjunction with its celebration of 15 years of providing the most diversified and highest quality product line of stable isotope-labeled compounds available. CIL’s inventory now consists of more than 8,000 stable isotope-labeled compounds, and 2,000 are featured in this new catalog. Featured products include amino acids, sugars, Bio-Express™ Cell Growth Media, RNA/DNA products, steroids, NMR solvents and reference standards, gases, metals, forensic standards, carbon-13 breath test substrates, and environmental contaminant standards.

CIL’s new logo is introduced.

history 1998 – Otsuka logo, John Glenn


A corporate merger with Otsuka Pharmaceuticals takes place to facilitate joint development of certain medical diagnostic products. CIL continues operations with the same executives and key managers and with an independent board of directors.

Parallels of Aging and Space
Former US Senator John Glenn infused with CIL amino acids for tracer studies during the shuttle mission. See “Glenn’s return to space: What will mission accomplish?” By Steve Salvatore (October 30, 1998 – CNN.com) 

history 1999 – oxygen-18 production


CIL announces construction of a major new facility for the production of highly enriched oxygen-18. After its projected completion in 2001, the new plant will have the capacity to annually produce more oxygen-18 (18O, 96%) than ever, making it one of the world’s largest 18O-separation facilities.

Click here to view an ad announcing the construction project...

history 2000 – Eurisotop becomes subsidiary


Euriso-Top becomes a fully owned subsidiary of CIL. Founded in January 1991 by a group of researchers from the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique (CEA), Euriso-Top is a leading producer of deuterated solvents and stable isotope-labeled compounds in Europe.

history 2002 – website redesign


CIL launches its new website redesign. The site features a database of more than 8,000 products, where one can search by name, catalog number, or isotopic label.

Quality is Key to CIL’s Success
For more than 20 years now, CIL’s management has guided employees to provide the highest quality products and service possible to our customers. Quality is the hallmark of excellence for each of CIL’s 150 employees. The commitment of each CIL employee to the quality of more than 8,000 compounds assures our customers a product that they can trust and a company they can rely upon.

history 2003 – second oxygen-18 expansion


CIL completes the second expansion of its 18O-separation facility, providing a solution to the shortage of 18O water in PET/energy-expenditure studies. 

CIL and Cerilliant collaborate on chemical weapon standards for Homeland Security after events of 9/11.

history 2004 – BioExpress insect cell media


CIL introduces insect cell growth media, as well as a new product line of 13C-, 15N-, and D-labeled RNA and DNA products. It also readies for an addition and renovation to begin the following year.

Click here to view the 2004 ad. 

Viktor Yushchenko, Ukrainian Presidential Candidate, Poisoned by Dioxin 
In late 2004, Ukrainian opposition candidate Viktor Yushchencko falls mysteriously ill, his face disfigured by lesions, the left side paralyzed. He has severe abdominal and back pain. He claims he was poisoned, but opponents say maybe it was bad sushi and booze. On December 11, Austrian doctors say it was dioxin, possibly deliberately placed in his food. This announcement comes just a few weeks after Yushchencko is beaten by Viktor Yanukovych in a soon-to-be-overturned runoff vote for the Ukrainian presidency. The Ukrainian Supreme Court calls for the election to be repeated because of widespread electoral fraud in favor of Viktor Yanukovych in the original vote. Austrian doctors confirm that Yushchenko had ingested hazardous amounts of TCDD, the most potent dioxin and a contaminant in Agent Orange. CIL provides TCDD standards for the forensic analysis on his poisoning. 

history 2005 – Andover expansion begins


CIL completes 15,000-square-foot expansion in Andover, MA, of production and cGMP laboratories, quality control, and increases cGMP API manufacturing. 

CIL establishes a Japanese-based sales group in collaboration with Otsuka Japan.

history 2006 – CIL celebrates 25 years; ABX


CIL celebrates 25 years! 

CIL acquires ABX Advanced Biochemical Compounds (ABX), in Radeburg, Germany, a nuclear medicine chemical manufacturer. ABX specializes in the development and manufacturing of chemicals for nuclear medicine applications, such as PET and SPECT, and is the primary producer of GMP mannose triflate, an active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) for producing 18FDG for PET (positron emission tomography).

history 2006 – CFS agreement WEPRO


CIL enters into a distributor agreement with CellFree Sciences Co., Ltd. (CFS) for the distribution of CFS’s WEPRO® expression kits and reagents for cell-free protein production for NMR and mass spectrometry applications in North America and Europe. CIL provides stable isotope-enriched amino acids as a component in the WEPRO expression kits.

Chinese Milk Scandal
Milk and other food materials produced in China were found to be adulterated with melamine, resulting in a large-scale health crisis. In response to the crisis, CIL formulated a labeled version of melamine for use as a mass spectrometry standard in order to help authorities monitor the extent of the adulteration. Melamine, because it is rich in nitrogen, can be used to inflate protein levels in milk that has been watered-down. When consumed by humans, it can produce kidney stones and other potentially fatal conditions, especially in children.

history 2010 – new environmental catalog


CIL introduces its new catalog “Environmental Contaminant Standards” with more than 2,900 products.

CIL again expands its 18O production capacity at CIS.

CIL Develops Environmental Standard for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill 
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. The primary surfactant ingredient in the chemical dispersant formulation was DOSS (dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate); dispersants were used extensively as part of the cleanup effort. CIL quickly responds to BP’s (British Petroleum) request for a labeled version of DOSS to help quantify levels of DOSS in water samples using mass spectrometry.

history 2012 – CIS expansion


CIL expands 18O production at CIS, upping the capacity yet again. CIL begins construction of a new 13C-separation system at CIS, which will increase its capacity. CIL also constructs a large-capacity D2O re-enrichment facility, which is one of the only commercial production units in the world.

history 2013 – new Tewksbury headquarters


CIL moves its corporate headquarters to a new facility in Tewksbury, MA, with a new state-of-the-art cGMP laboratory.

history 2014 – Nexomics agreement


CIL announces an exlusive worldwide commercial supply agreement with Nexomics Biosciences, a structural biology and protein-production contract research organization, to provide isotope-labeled proteins to life science research organizations.

Nexomics offers a broad array of gene-to-structure services to the biopharmaceutical community. By utilizing a fully integrated protein structure production pipeline, Nexomics can provide a variety of services from bioinformatics, target profiling, gene cloning, recombinant protein expression, laboratory-scale fermentation, crystallization, NMR structural studies, X-ray crystallographic structural studies, target validation, and functional annotation.

history 2015 – MRM Proteomics agreement


CIL and MRM Proteomics Inc. (MRMP), a leading supplier of kits and services for quantitative proteomics, announce an exclusive worldwide commercial supply agreement. MRMP provides advanced proteomics kits and services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and diagnostics industries in key areas such as biomarker discovery/validation, clinical studies, diagnostics research and toxicology.

history 2017 – Endocyte


Endocyte announces exclusive worldwide license of Phase 3 ready PSMA-targeted radioligand therapy for development in prostate cancer

Endocyte, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company developing targeted therapeutics for personalized cancer treatment, today announced the completion of an exclusive worldwide license of PSMA-617 from ABX GmbH. Endocyte intends to move quickly into Phase 3 development of 177Lu-PSMA-617, a radioligand therapeutic (RLT) that targets the prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA), present in approximately 80% of patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). 177Lu-PSMA-617 delivers the short-range beta-emitting radioactive isotope lutetium (177Lu) selectively to tumor cells while by-passing non-PSMA-expressing healthy cells with encouraging efficacy and safety results.

history 2018 – SNMMI image of the year


‘Image of the Year’ captures dramatic cancer responses.

Each year, SNMMI chooses an image that exemplifies the most promising advances in the field of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging. Positron emission tomography (PET) scans showing very positive results obtained in cancer patients after treatment with the radionuclide lutetium-177 (177Lu) PSMA-617 prostate cancer therapy were selected by the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) as the SNMMI Image of the year. ABX (a CIL subsidiary) licensed this therapy to Endocyte.

history 2019 – fifth CIS expansion


Fifth expansion underway at CIS in Xenia, Ohio

CIL began building the Xenia lab in 1987, and at the time the $3.2 million carbon-13 production facility was the largest of its kind. The first expansion began a decade later. In 1999, the company put down $6 million for a new oxygen-18 production site, to satisfy demand in the positron emission tomography (PET) and metabolism research markets. The next expansion in 2003 grew production capacity. Then in 2010, another expansion again added capacity. By 2012, yet another pair of expansions had grown its capacity of carbon-13 and oxygen-18. CIL bought 20 acres of land in 2017, and now it’s preparing a $12 million expansion that will add new lab space, administrative offices, and warehousing space.

Cliff Caldwell appointed CEO of CIL

CIL Board of Directors appoints Cliff Caldwell as its new CEO, as Joel Bradley, founder and CEO, steps down from his position after 38 years. Bradley will remain as a member of the Board of Directors and will continue to consult for the company.

history 2020 – COVID-19


CIL partners with Alsachim in the fight against COVID-19

Through a commercial partnership with Alsachim, CIL now offers an assortment of unlabeled and stable isotope-labeled antiviral drug standards and their metabolites to assist in COVID-19 research and therapy development. “We are thrilled to join forces with CIL in order to answer US customers’ needs and deliver crucial compounds for COVID-19 therapeutic monitoring,” says Dr. Jean-Francois Hoeffler, president of Alsachim.

CIL aids COVID-19-related research at MIT with 13C6 glucose

CIL is aiding COVID-19-related research conducted in the laboratory of Dr. Mei Hong, professor of chemistry at MIT (Cambridge, MA). A focus of the Hong group is to determine the structure and binding mechanism of a severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS CoV 2) membrane protein. SARS CoV 2 is the strain that causes coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID 19. The findings of the Hong laboratory should increase fundamental understanding of the mechanisms of action of SARS CoV 2 membrane proteins and aid in future antiviral drug development efforts.

history 2021 – CIL 40th anniversary


CIL hits the 40-year mark, with companywide celebrations of this milestone anniversary

CIL offers cannabis standards for MS-based testing

CIL now offers solutions for testing the quality and safety of cannabis products with the launch of a variety of stable isotope-labeled and native standards of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids to assist with testing needs. Research suggests the cannabis plant produces between 80-100 cannabinoids, primarily cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The complexity and diversity of cannabis products poses unique challenges to accurate quality testing, and cannabis testing laboratories must meet the needs of varying state and federal requirements to ensure products are safe, effective, and consistent.

history 2022 – CIS North Star


Cambridge Isotope Laboratories, Inc. embarks on largest expansion project in the company’s history

This strategic undertaking, which has been aptly named North Star, will significantly increase 13C production by building a separate cryogenic distillation facility for carbon monoxide. 13C is a critical starting material used in the production of new and existing research and diagnostic chemicals. North Star will ensure that CIL’s committed, long-term customers will be guaranteed the additional 13C required for the current and increasing future demands for 13C-labeled compounds.

CIL partners With ISOtopic Solutions to release the new stable isotope-labeled and unlabeled Crude Lipid Yeast Extracts, which are designed to render 100s of fatty acids and lipids for use in MS lipidomics research and development.