Physics Seminar

Guardians of Radiation: The Impact of Health Physicists in Medical Physics
by Dr. Paul Gueye, Hampton University, Hampton VA
2009-11-23, 11:00 PM in NSB 152

Abstract

Discovery of radioactivity by physicist in the late 1800s and early 1900s has led to a better understanding of our phenomenal world and de facto has revolutionized science, technology and medicine. Physicists have been usually associated at the cornerstone of these developments, with sub-disciplines covering various common areas that include astrophysics, nuclear/high energy physics, material and optical sciences, and plasma physics to name a few. However, the exciting worlds of occupational health physics and medical physics are not commonly associated with physics proper. Professional physicist working in the former ensure the safety of radiological workers in particular and the public in general, while professionals working in the latter provide medical services which include radiation therapy physics, medical diagnostic and imaging physics, nuclear medicine physics, and medical radiation safety. This talk will focus on providing a bridge between selected radiological areas of physics with an emphasis on radiation safety issues and their associated medical applications. In the first section of the talk, an overview of general beam production and transport beamlines used in fundamental research will be presented. Subsequently, the accelerator physics behind the medical linacs used in external beam treatment of cancerous lesions will be discussed. Next, the medical applications of radioactive sources will be briefly presented in the context of detectors, in which detection techniques developed in nuclear/high energy physics can be used to provide a unique tool for effectively understanding low energy beam distributions emitted from radioactive sources such as those used in Brachytherapy procedures. It is important to note that the ultimate goal of radiation based therapy is its killing power on tumor cells; hence, radiotherapeutic dose response of biological systems can be studied in the context of radiation biology and microdosimetry via specific particulate radiation systems. Finally, the impact of radiation in the imaging world will be briefly reviewed focusing on tools primarily used in plasma physics, optics, fluid mechanics and Monte Carlo simulations. The breadth of these fields of physics are intrinsically connected and provide a natural, yet currently unavailable environment for a strong combined Health Physics/Medical Physics program at Texas Southern University (TSU). Such a program at TSU can open a doorway for new opportunities for faculty and students, while simultaneously addressing the growing need for the next generation of radiological physics professionals in the highly competitive 21st century workforce of cancerous lesions will be discussed. Next, the medical applications of radioactive sources will be briefly presented in the context of detectors, in which detection techniques developed in nuclear/high energy physics can be used to provide a unique tool for effectively understanding low energy beam distributions emitted from radioactive sources such as those used in Brachytherapy procedures. It is important to note that the ultimate goal of radiation based therapy is its killing power on tumor cells; hence, radiotherapeutic dose response of biological systems can be studied in the context of radiation biology and microdosimetry via specific particulate radiation systems. Finally, the impact of radiation in the imaging world will be briefly reviewed focusing on tools primarily used in plasma physics, optics, fluid mechanics and Monte Carlo simulations. The breadth of these fields of physics are intrinsically connected and provide a natural, yet currently unavailable environment for a strong combined Health Physics/Medical Physics program at Texas Southern University (TSU). Such a program at TSU can open a doorway for new opportunities for faculty and students, while simultaneously addressing the growing need for the next generation of radiological physics professionals in the highly competitive 21st century workforce