Program Format

This program is designed for full-time study over the course of two academic years. Students will commence their studies with the University calendar in Fall semester, and graduate after two years of successful studies. Courses will run over a traditional 16-week semester schedule during the Fall and Spring semesters. Over the summer, students will be expected to work on their thesis research or clinical project, and will have the option to perform clinical rotations to fine-tune and hone their clinical skills.

Course Schedule – Clinical Project Stream
courses and credits needed to complete the medical physics clinical project stream
Course Schedule – Thesis Research Stream
course titles and credits for medical physics thesis research stream

Course Descriptions

BIOL 4580: Principles of Human Anatomy and Development (3 Credits)

This course will discuss the anatomy of most of the functional systems of the human body. Topics covered will include the peripheral nervous system, respiration, circulation, the skeletal system, the gastro-intestinal tract, the urogenital system, the male and female reproductive systems, locomotion, manipulation, mastication, vocalization, the visual system, the auditory system and the olfactory system. Selected topics in human embryology will also be introduced. The course provides valuable preparation for any student interested in human biology, anthropology, medicine or the health sciences.

Prerequisite: College level biology

Instructor: David Strait Ph.D.

Fall

MP 501: Clinical Imaging Fundamentals (2 Credits)

This course will cover the physical principles underlying various imaging modalities used in medicine including radiography, computed tomography, ultrasound, positron emission tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. Topics to be covered include 1) aspects of x-ray generation for imaging including x-ray tube construction and imaging geometries and 2) image acquisition devices such as storage phosphor plates, image intensifiers, and various digital imagers. Clinical applications of x-ray imaging including mammography and angiography will be reviewed. Advanced imaging systems to be covered include diagnostic computed tomography (CT) scanners and cone-beam CT scanners. Basics of MRI imaging systems will be reviewed including the 1) physics underlying both commonly-used and specialized pulse sequences and 2) the design and construction of typical scanners. The physics and clinical applications of both ultrasound and PET imaging will also be discussed. Topics to be considered throughout the course include image quality metrics to evaluate performance of any imaging system and how the performance of imaging platforms can be degraded or improved in terms of these metrics. In addition to didactic component, there will also be hands-on laboratory sessions on ultrasound, Cone-Beam CT, MRI imaging, Radiography, and Computed tomography performance testing for various clinical systems.

Prerequisite: modern physics and calculus; permission of the program director

Instructor: Jochen Cammin Ph.D.

Fall

MP 502: Radiological Physics and Dosimetry (3 Credits)

This class is designed to construct a theoretical foundation for ionizing radiation dose calculations and measurements in a medical context and prepare graduate students for proper scientific applications in the field of x-ray imaging and radiation therapy. This course will cover the fundamental concepts of radiation physics, how ionizing radiation interacts with matter, and how the energy that is deposited in the matter can be measured in theory and practice. Specifically, a student completing this course will be able to do the following:

  1. Understand and apply key concepts specific to energy deposition for both ionizing photon interactions and transport in matter and for energetic charged particle interactions and transport in matter. Radiation sources include radioactivity, x-ray tubes, and linear accelerators.
  2. Understand the theoretical details of ion-chamber based dosimetry and of cavity-theories based clinical dose measurement protocols.
  3. Perform and present real world style research projects as a group, and present these projects in a typical professional scientific format and style.
  4. Achieve an appreciation of the history and potential future developments in ionizing radiation detection and dosimetry

Prerequisite: Calculus and modern physics; permission of the program director

Instructor: Tiezhi Zhang, Ph.D.

Fall

MP505: Radiobiology (2 Credits)

This class is designed to establish a foundation for ionizing radiation interaction with biological tissues. It will cover the fundamental concepts of cell biology, how ionizing radiation interacts with cells, radiation damage and carcinogenesis, radiation therapy fractionation and related concepts. The effects of ionizing radiations on living cells and organisms, including physical, chemical, and physiological basis of radiation cytotoxicity, mutagenicity, and carcinogenesis are also covered.

Prerequisites: One year each of biology, physics and organic chemistry; permission of the program director

Instructor: Buck Rogers Ph.D.

Spring

MP506: Radiation Oncology Physics (3 Credits)

This course is designed to build on the concept of radiation dosimetry techniques and bring them into the clinical realm. The students will learn clinical applications of radiation dose measurements as used in radiation therapy for the treatment of cancer. Ionizing radiation producing devices such as external beam, brachytherapy, protons and charged particles, imaging modalities, simulation, radiation delivery, treatment verification imaging, quality assurance, motion management and image guided techniques will be the major focus.

Prerequisites: Radiological Physics and Dosimetry; permission of the program director

Instructor: Michael Altman, Ph.D.

Spring

BME 589: Biological Imaging Technology (3 Credits)

This class will develop a fundamental understanding of the physics and mathematical methods that underlie biological imaging and critically examine case studies of seminal biological imaging technology literature. The physics sections will examine how electromagnetic and acoustic waves interact with tissues and cells, how waves can be used to image the biological structure and function, image formation methods and diffraction limited imaging. The math sections will examine image formation and analysis using basis functions (e.g. Fourier transforms), synthesis of measurement data, reduction of multi-dimensional imaging datasets, and statistical image analysis. Original literature on electron, confocal and two photon microscopy, ultrasound, nuclear imaging, computed tomography, functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging and other emerging imaging technology will be critiqued.

Prerequisites: Calculus, Physics

Instructor: Joseph O’Sullivan Ph.D.

Spring

MP521: Radiation Protection and Safety (2 Credits)

This class is designed to introduce concepts of radiation protection and safety and biological consequences of human radiation exposure. Protection and safety of the radiation worker and patient, as well as detection equipment and shielding analysis will be main focus. The course will broadly cover regulations, and radiological protection in various clinical environments.

Prerequisites: One year each of biology, physics and organic chemistry; permission of the program director

Instructor: Rao Khan, Ph.D.

Fall

MP523: Advanced Clinical Medical Physics Laboratory (2 Credits)

This class is designed to introduce concepts of radiation protection and safety and biological consequences of human radiation exposure. Protection and safety of the radiation worker and patient, as well as detection equipment and shielding analysis will be main focus. The course will broadly cover regulations, and radiological protection in various clinical environments.

Prerequisites: One year each of biology, physics and organic chemistry; permission of the program director

Instructor: Rao Khan, Ph.D.

Fall

MP503: Independent Study (1 Credit per term)

The graduate student will pursue independent laboratory or industrial research during the academic year. Many WUSM faculty have research opportunities for students. Students should reach an agreement with a faculty member who is willing to serve as supervisor for the objective and scope of the project. The faculty supervisor must be either employed full time in the Department of Radiation Oncology or affiliated with its Medical Physics Division.

The grade for the Independent Study will be Pass/Fail. The student may continue to develop his/ her research to a second term and expand the research into either a Clinical Project or Thesis Research.

Instructor : Rao Khan Ph.D.  

Fall and Spring

MP503c: Clinical Project (3 credit hours)

Students will complete a clinically-focused, hands-on project under the supervision of a faculty mentor. The student will develop a project statement, including purpose, overview of proposed methods, expected duration, and required effort to complete the project. The statement must be approved by the mentor and program director prior to initiating work on the project. An oral presentation and/or written report describing the completed project work is required.

Prerequisites: Radiological Physics and Dosimetry, Radiation Oncology Physics, Radiobiology, Independent Study courses, permission of the program director

Fall

MP503t: Thesis Research (3 credit hours each for two terms)

Students will complete a research project under the supervision of a faculty mentor. Thesis students will develop a thesis proposal, conduct mentored research, and disseminate this research in the form of an oral defense and written thesis. Thesis proposals must be approved by the faculty mentor and program director prior to initiating the thesis research.

Prerequisites: Radiological Physics and Dosimetry, Radiation Oncology Physics, Independent Study courses, permission of the program director

Fall

MP522: Clinical Rotations (1 Credit hour)

The student will rotate through various areas within the Radiation Therapy Clinic and develop an understanding of the applications of physics in the use of radiation for the treatment of cancers. This will include simulation, quality assurance of various imaging and radiation sources, dose calculation, intensity modulation treatments, radiosurgery, stereotactic body radiotherapy, brachytherapy, radiopharmaceutical therapy, and more.

Prerequisites: Radiological Physics and Dosimetry, Radiation Oncology Physics; permission of the program director

Instructor: Jose Garcia-Ramirez, M.Sc.

Fall

MP 504: Ethics, Professionalism and Current Topics (1 Credit hour)

This course prepares students to critically evaluate ethical, regulatory and professional issues, and leadership in clinical practice and research. The principal goal of this course is to prepare students to recognize ethics and compliance resources in clinical research and the situational factors that give rise to them, to identify ethics and compliance resources, and to foster ethical problem-solving skills. Additionally, the course introduces professionalism, core elements, common traits of the medical physics profession, confidentiality, conflict of interest, interpersonal interactions, negotiations and leadership skills. Characteristics of successful leadership are also identified. Interaction with patients, colleagues, vendors, and clinic staff will also be emphasized.

Prerequisites: permission of the program director

Instructor: Naim Ozturk Ph.D.

Spring

Orientation

The program will provide a half day facility orientation to the students admitted to the program. The orientation will include HIPAA training and clinical safety.