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Physics Residency Program: Overview

Program Objectives

The Radiation Oncology Physics Residency Program is designed for individuals with an M.S. or Ph.D. (D.Sc.) degree who seek training in clinical radiation oncology physics in preparation for a clinically‑oriented career. The Program's objective is to provide clinical training in radiation oncology physics that will prepare the graduate for board certification and a professional career in radiation oncology.

This Residency Program training involves full participation of the physics resident in the clinical routine, under the supervision of experienced radiation oncology physicists. Comprehensive training and experience is provided in the areas of dosimetry, treatment planning, brachytherapy, radiation safety, multi-modality imaging, radiographic and MR image guidence, particle therapy, special procedures, and quality assurance.

Training from this Program should prepare the graduate for certification in the specialty of Therapeutic Radiological Physics by the American Board of Radiology. Graduates of the Program will have received sufficient clinical training that should prepare them for work as a radiation oncology physicist.

This program received CAMPEP accreditation in October 1997 and re-accreditation in 2003, 2008, and 2013. We are accredited through the end of 2018.

Organizational Structure

The Radiation Oncology Physics Residency Program is an official program within the Washington University Medical Center/Barnes-Jewish Hospital Radiation Oncology Department.  Barnes-Jewish Hospital is responsible for all technical components of radiation oncology while Washington University is responsible for all professional components (including the employment of physicians, physicists, physics residents, cancer biologists, bioinformatics faculty, and other academic faculty and staff).  In this academic medical center partnership, Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University work together to provide the highest quality of patient care, conduct world-class research, and outstanding instruction in our education and training programs.  The Department of Radiation Oncology is governed by Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM) rules and policies. The physics residency program faculty consists of faculty within the Medical School and staff of the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Department of Radiation Oncology.

The Washington University Medical Center is a federation of several institutions owned by the University and other independent institutions.  It is the central radiation therapy and diagnosis facility for the entire complex of hospitals and clinics associated with Washington University School of Medicine which combined have nearly 2000 beds. The Radiation Oncology Department resides in the new Siteman Cancer Center.  Our facility is a designated NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center facility.  The Physics Residency Program utilizes other facilities within the Washington University Medical Center including Barnes-Jewish Hospital. 

The Department of Radiation Oncology operates one of the largest clinical services in the country.  Fourteen faculty radiation oncologists and twelve physician residents are involved in the provision of patient care and intramural and cooperative group clinical protocols. The physician faculty is responsible for the treatment of approximately 2,200 new cancer patients per year, representing 50% of all cancer patients in the St. Louis area, or about 30% of all cancer patients in the State of Missouri requiring this form of treatment.

The Physics Division of the Department of Radiation Oncology includes 22 radiation oncology physicists, 3 imaging physicists, 2 computer scientists, 14 dosimetrists, 4 brachytherapy technicians, 4 clinical engineers, and 4 physics residents.  The Physics Division is organized into three main activities:  research, education, and clinical.  The clinical activities include specific services:  treatment planning, brachytherapy, imaging, treatment localization, stereotactic, protons, MR Guided Therapy, and QA.  All physics faculty participate in the various education and training programs that include the Physics Residency Program, Physician Residency Program, Dosimetrist Training Program through Southern Illinois University (SIU), and Therapist Training Program (SIU and St. Louis University).

As will be described in later sections, residents have access to a wide range of dosimetry instrumentation, radiation treatment planning systems, imaging and localization systems, simulators, and treatment machines.

History of Program Development

It is well established in radiation oncology that patient care relies not only on physicians, but also on radiation oncology physicists and other technical personnel. Whereas, physicians have established residency programs, physicists have in the past lacked organized clinical training beyond individual apprenticeships or self-training on the job. This was probably adequate in the early days of physics involvement in radiation oncology. However, as radiation oncology has become increasingly more sophisticated and complex, this strategy is no longer acceptable. The practice of hiring inadequately trained medical physicists, who are allowed to perform patient related tasks, must be discontinued.

The lack of proper clinical training of medical physicists reached a serious level in the late 1980's. There was, (and continues to be) an acute shortage of qualified clinical physicists, i.e., physicists with adequate clinical training and board certification. There was (and continues to be) a growing abundance of physics graduates with little or no clinical training applying (and being hired) for hospital positions.  The American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) recognized this problem and in 1988-89 developed a comprehensive document entitled AAPM Report Number 36, "Essentials and Guidelines for Hospital‑Based Medical Physics Residency Training Programs", which sets down the educational and administrative requirements for a hospital-based residency training program. The AAPM Report recommended two years of clinical physics training beyond an M.S. or Ph.D. degree in physics or a closely related field. The organization of the recommended program was patterned after physician residency programs. In the words of the Committee that developed the recommendations, "this document will hopefully encourage the development of a high quality clinical medical physics instructional environment on a nationwide basis and make an important contribution to the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare."  In 2006, AAPM Report 90, an update to Report 36, was published and is being followed by our program.  The former program director, Eric E. Klein, is an author.

In light of these developments, the Barnes-Jewish Hospital/Washington University Medical Center Radiation Oncology Center formalized their previous "post-doctoral" training approach and established the Radiation Oncology Physics Residency Program in 1992.  Dr. James A. Purdy was the founding Director for the Physics Residency Program and Eric Klein was Co-Director until 2003, when he became Director. Dr. S. Mutic, Ph.D., took over as Director after Dr. Klein’s departure in 2015. Olga Green, Ph.D. serves as the Associate Director of the Physics Residency Program.

Since the Program's beginning, 37 physicists have completed their residency training. In addition, there are five physicists currently receiving their physics residency training in this program.   The program is equipped for up to six residents.  All of our graduates are practicing radiation oncology physicists, and those have received their board certification or are in the process of obtaining certification. 

Our program has been recognized for its excellence as evidenced by prior recipients of the ASTRO/AAPM Physics Residency Program, Varian/AAPM and Elekta/AAPM Fellowship Awards.    In total, 7 two-year awards were received.  Unfortunately, these fellowship awards no longer exist. 

Table 1:

Residency Program Statistics

Number of students applying per year

200

Number of students accepted per year

2

Number of students graduating per year

2

Number of former students certified per year (average)

2

Number in clinical positions

12

Number in academic positions

23

Number in industry

2

 

Table 2:
Data on Graduates of Radiation Oncology Physics Residency Program

  1. Name: Abel Cheng
    Graduation: June 30, 1993
    Present Status: Medical Physicist
    St. Luke’s Hospital
    232 S. Woodsmill Road
    Chesterfield, MO 63017
    aycheng@yahoo.com
    Certification: ABMP (1994) ABR (1996)
  2. Name: Harold Perera, PhD
    Graduation: June 30, 1994
    Present Status: Director of Off-Campus Medical Physics Radiation Oncology
    Aria Health Frankford Torresdale Hospital
    4900 Frankford Avenue
    Philadelphia, PA,19124
    Harold.perera@jeffersonhospital.org
    Certification: ABMP (1996)
  3. Name: Zuofeng Li, D.Sc., FAAPM
    Graduation: June 30, 1995
    Present Status: Professor
    Dept. of Radiation Oncology
    University of Florida, Proton Therapy Inst.
    2015 N. Jefferson Street
    Jacksonville, FL 32206
    zuofeng@ufl.edu
    Certification: ABMP (1996)
  4. Name: Virgil Willcut, M.S., DABMP
    Graduation: June 30, 1995
    Present Status: VP, TPS Product Mgmt, Physics Research
    Elekta, Inc.
    13723 Riverport Drive, Suite 100
    Maryland Heights, MO 63043
    Virgil.willcut@elekta.com
    Certification: ABMP (1997)
  5. Name: Xiao-Rong Zhu, Ph.D.
    Graduation: June 30, 1996
    Present Status: Assistant Professor
    Dept. of Radiation Physics – Box 94
    UT M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
    1515 Holcombe Blvd.
    Houston, TX 77030
    Tel: 713-563-2553
    xrzhu@mdanderson.edu
    Certification: ABMO (1997)
  6. Name: Steen Madsen, Ph.D.
    Graduation: June 30, 1997
    Present Status: Chairman and Professor
    University of Nevada Las Vegas
    Dept. of Health Physics
    4505 Maryland Ave., Box 453037
    Las Vegas, MN 89154-3037
    Steen.madsen@unlv.edu
    Certification: Passed ABMP Part I & II (1997)
  7. Name: Sasa Mutic, Ph.D.
    Graduation: June 30, 1998
    Present Status: Professor
    Dept. of Radiation Oncology
    Washington University School of Medicine
    4921 Parkview Place, Campus Box 8224
    St. Louis, MO 63110
    smutic@wustl.edu
    Certification: ABR (2000)
  8. Name: S. Murty Goddu, Ph.D.
    Graduation; June 30, 1999
    Present Status: Associate Professor
    Dept. of Radiation Oncology
    Washington University School of Medicine
    4921 Parkview Place, Campus Box 8224
    St. Louis, MO 63110
    sgoddu@wustl.edu
    Certification; ABMP (2000), ABR (2001)
  9. Name: James F. Dempsey, Ph.D.
    Graduation: June 30, 2001
    Present Status: Chief Science Officer
    ViewRay, Inc
    2 Thermo Fischer Way
    Oakwood Village, OH 44146
    jfdempsey@viewray.com
    Certification: ABR (2004)
  10. Name: Jose Garcia-Ramirez, M.S.
    Graduation: June 30, 2001
    Present Status: Assistant Professor
    Dept. of Radiation Oncology
    Washington University School of Medicine
    4921 Parkview Place, Campus Box 8224
    St. Louis, MO 63110
    jramirez@wustl.edu
    Certification: ABR (2002)
  11. Name: Jacqueline Esthappan Zoberi, Ph.D.
    Graduation: June 30, 2002
    Present Status: Associate Professor
    Dept. of Radiation Oncology
    Washington University School of Medicine
    4921 Parkview Place, Campus Box 8224
    St. Louis, MO 63110
    jesthappan@wustl.edu
    Certification: ABR (2003)
  12. Name: Jian-Yue Jin, PhD
    Graduation: June 30, 2003
    Present Status: Professor
    Radiation Oncology/Radiology
    Georgia Regents University
    1120 15th Street
    CN-3130, Georgia Regents University
    Augusta, GA 30912 
    jjin@augusta.edu
    Certification: ABR (2004)
  13. Name: Fritz Lerma, Ph.D.
    Graduation: August 1, 2003
    Present Status: Chief Physicist
    Medical Physics
    Rad America, LLC-MedStar Health
    9105 Franklin Square Dr.
    Baltimore, MD 21237
    fritzlerma@gmail.com
    Certification: ABR (2003)
  14. Name: Bruce Gu
    Graduation: June 30, 2004
    Present Status: Assistant Professor
    Department of Radiation Oncology
    Siteman Cancer Center Barnes-Jewish Hospital
    St. Peters Hospital
    150 Entrance Way
    St. Peters, MO 63376
    ybg0959@bjc.org
    Certification: ABR (2005)
  15. Name: K. Tareque Islam, Ph.D.
    Graduation: June 30, 2004
    Present Status: Radiation Oncology Physicist
    Carle Clinic Association
    1818 E. Windsor
    Urbana, IL 61802
    Khandaker.islam@carle.com
    Certification: ABR (2005)
  16. Name: Carnell J Hampton, PhD
    Graduation: June 30, 2005
    Present Status: Chief Medical Physicist
    Radiation Oncology
    Carolinas HealthCare System/CMC-NE
    1000 Blythe Blvd.
    Charlotte, NC 28232 
    carnell.hampton@carolinahealthcare.org
    Certification: ABR (2006)
  17. Name: Roy C. Wood, Ph.D
    Graduation: June 30, 2005
    Present Status: Medical Physicist
    Dept. of Radiation Oncology
    Mercy Therapeutic Radiology Associates
    411 Laurel Street, Suite C-100
    Des Moines, IA 50314
    Tel: 515-643-8780
    rwood@mercydesmoines.org
    Certification: ABR (2006)
  18. Name: Mark D. Wiesmeyer, PhD
    Graduation: June 30, 2006
    Present Status: Medical Physicist
    5198 Sassafras Dr
    Unit 101
    Fitchburg , WI 53711 
    mwiesmeyer@gmail.com
    Certification: ABR (2007)
  19. Name: Dharanipathy Rangaraj, PhD
    Graduation: June 30, 2007
    Present Status: Associate Prof & Director of Med Phys
    Radiation Department
    Baylor Scott & White Health
    Texas A&M University, College of Medicine
    2401 South 31st Street
    Temple , TX 76508 
    drangaraj@sw.org
    Certification: ABR (2009)
  20. Name: Anna Kress, MSc
    Graduation: June 30, 2007
    Present Status: Medical Physicist
    Allan Blair Cancer Centre
    4101 Dewdney Avenue
    Regina , SK S4T 7T1 Canada
    atkress@gmail.com
    Certification: ABR (2009)
  21. Name: Hui Zhao, Ph.D.
    Graduation: July 31, 2008
    Present Status: Assistant Professor
    Radiation Oncology Department
    University of Utah – Huntsman Cancer Center
    1950 Circle of Hope
    Salt Lake City, UT 84112
    hui.zhao@hci.utah.edu
    Certification: ABR (2010)
  22. Name: Sridar Yaddanapudi, Ph.D.
    Graduation: June 30, 2009
    Present Status: Assistant Professor
    University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics
    200 Hawkins Dr.
    Iowa City, IA 52242
    Certification: ABR (2012)
  23. Name: Kevin Moore, Ph.D.
    Graduation: June 30, 2009
    Present Status: Assistant Professor
    Dept. of Radiation Oncology
    University of California, San Diego
    3960 Health Sciences Dr., MC:0865
    San Diego, CA 92014
    kevinmoore@ucsd.edu
    Certification: ABR (2011)
  24. Name: Marie Mamalui-Hunter, Ph.D.
    Graduation: December 31, 2009
    Present Status: Assistant Professor
    Proton Therapy Institute
    2015 North Jefferson Street
    Jacksonville, FL 32209
    mhunter@floridaproton.org
    Certification: ABR (2011)
  25. Name: Omar Wooten, Ph.D.
    Graduation: June 30, 2010
    Present Status: Staff Scientist
    Los Alamos National Laboratory
    P.O. Box 1663
    Los Alamos, NM 87545
    hasani@lanl.gov
    Certification: ABR (2012)
  26. Name: Geethpriya Palaniswaamy, PhD
    Graduation: June 30, 2010
    Present Status: Senior Staff Medical Physicist
    Radiation Oncology
    Baylor Scott & White Health
    2401 S 31ST Street
    Temple, TX 76508 
    Tel: 317-652-7977 (w)
    gpalaniswaamy@sw.org
    Certification: ABR (2012)
  27. Name: Rojano Kashani, Ph.D.
    Graduation: June 30, 2011
    Present Status: Assistant Professor
    Dept of Radiation Oncology
    Washington University School of Medicine
    4921 Parkview Place, Campus Box 8224
    St. Louis, MO 63110
    rkashani@wustl.edu
    Certification: ABR (2013)
  28. Name: Olga Green, Ph.D.
    Graduation: June 30, 2011
    Present Status: Assistant Professor
    Dept of Radiation Oncology
    Washington University School of Medicine
    4921 Parkview Place, Campus Box 8224
    St. Louis, MO 63110
    ogreen@wustl.edu
    Certification: ABR (2013)
  29. Name: Satoru Utsunomiya, PhD
    Graduation: June 30, 2011
    Present Status: 1-757 Asahimachi-dori
    Chuoku
    Niigata 951-8510 Japan
    sutsuno@clg.niigata-u.ac.jp
    Certification: ABR (passed I & II)
  30. Name: Akito Saito, PhD
    Graduation: June 30, 2012
    Present Status: Assistant Professor
    Department of Radiation Oncology
    Hrioshima Univeristy Hospital.
    Minami Ward
    Kasumi, 1-2-3
    Hiroshima 734-8551
    Hiroshima Japan
    saito@rtqm.net
    Certification:  ABR (passed part 1 and 2)
  31. Name: Lindsey Olsen (Appenzoller), Ph.D.
    Graduation: June 30, 2012
    Present Status: Medical Physicist
    Memorial Hospital Cancer Cetner
    Dept of Radiation Oncology
    525 N. Foote Avenue
    Colorado Sprins, CO 80909
    lindsey.olsen@uchealth.org
    Certification: ABR (2013)
  32. Name: Jessica Klaers, Ph.D.
    Graduation: June 30, 2012
    Present Status: Medical Physicist
    Turville Bay MRI & Radiation Oncology Center
    1104 John Nolan Drive
    Madison, WI 53713
    jklaers@turvillebay.com
    Certification: ABR (2013)
  33. Name: James Kavanaugh, M.S.
    Graduation: June 30, 2013
    Present Status: Instructor
    Dept of Radiation Oncology
    Washington University School of Medicine
    4921 Parkview Place, Campus Box 8224
    St. Louis, MO 63110
    jkavanaugh@wustl.edu
    Certification: ABR (2014)
  34. Name: Samantha Hedrick, Ph.D.
    Graduation: December 31, 2014
    Present Status: Staff Physicist
    Provision Center for Proton Therapy
    6450 Provision Cares Way
    Knoxville, TN 37909
    Certification:
  35. Name: Vivian Rodriguez, Ph.D.
    Graduation: June 30, 2014
    Present Status: Staff Physicist
    Dept of Radiation Oncology
    Washington University School of Medicine
    4921 Parkview Place, Campus Box 8224
    St. Louis, MO 63110
    v.rodriguez@wustl.edu
    Certification:
  36. Name: Nels Knutson, M.S.
    Graduation: June 30, 2014
    Present Status: Instructor
    Dept of Radiation Oncology
    Washington University School of Medicine
    4921 Parkview Place, Campus Box 8224
    St. Louis, MO 63110
    nknutson@wustl.edu
    Certification: ABR (2015)
  37. Name: Leith Rankine, M.S.
    Graduation: June 30, 2015
    Present Status: Clinical Instructor
    Department of Radiation Oncology
    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    CB #7512, 101 Manning Dr.
    Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7512
    Leith_Rankine@med.unc.edu
    Certification:
    ABR (2016)
  38. Name: Bin Cai, Ph.D.
    Graduation: June 30, 2015
    Present Status: Instructor
    Dept of Radiation Oncology
    Washington University School of Medicine
    4921 Parkview Place, Campus Box 8224
    St. Louis, MO 63110
    bcai@radonc.wustl.edu
    Certification:
    ABR (2016)
  39. Name: Michael Reilly, Ph.D.
    Graduation: June 30, 2016
    Present Status: Instructor
    Dept of Radiation Oncology
    Washington University School of Medicine
    4921 Parkview Place, Campus Box 8224
    St. Louis, MO 63110
    mreilly@wustl.edu
    Certification:
  40. Name: Karen Mooney, Ph.D.
    Graduation: June 30, 2016
    Present Status: Clinical Instructor
    Dept of Radiation Oncology
    Thomas Jefferson University
    111 South 11th Street
    Rm 6-321, Bodine Center
    Philadelphia, PA 19107
    Karen.e.mooney@gmail.com
    Certification: ABR (passed I & II)