Advancing medical physics, one page at a time

Jerry Battista and Jacob Van Dyk

By Jesica Hurst, BA'14

Every two years, researchers come together to work on a book series called Advances in Medical Physics, which is designed to help medical physicists and technically-inclined physicians stay current in medical radiation science and technology.

While the topics included in the series could focus on any subspecialty of medical physics, editions tend to have an emphasis on medical imaging.

This year, 10 faculty members, trainees and alumni came together to work on Advances in Medical Physics, Volume 6, contributing heavily to four of 15 chapters.

After he was approached to play a role in the development of Volume 6, Jacob Van Dyk, PhD, Professor Emeritus, took time to review the situation and realized the series needed additional support on the radiation therapy side. Even though he is retired, Van Dyk decided to take on the role of co-editor as he enjoys providing contributions where it may benefit the medical physics community.

Van Dyk explained that the scope of medical physics know-how at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry is both broad and deep, ranging from diagnostic imaging research to radiation therapy applications to the study of fundamental physiological processes.

“Schulich Medicine & Dentistry has one of the largest graduate programs in medical physics in North America, if not the world, and virtually all of the faculty members have developed internationally recognized expertise in their respective research areas,” Van Dyk said. “Because of this, it was not difficult to choose a few topics for this edition of Advances in Medical Physics with expertise from some of the School’s faculty, trainees and alumni.”

Jerry Battista, PhD, Professor in the Department of Medical Biophysics, is one of the members of Schulich Medicine & Dentistry who was involved in the development of Volume 6. He contributed two chapters — one on teaching the underlying “guitar” physics of MRI scanners and linear accelerators (LINACs) used in radiation therapy in cancer, and another on the radiation exposure in a three-year voyage to Mars and back.

“The topics I contributed to are certainly considered odd for this scientifically and technologically focused book, but it added some spice to pique interest while attracting a wider readership,” Battista explained. “Besides, it was fun to write on these challenging topics.”

According to Battista, medical physics has enjoyed a rapid growth in student interest because of the applied nature and technological appeal of both medical imaging and radiation treatment.

London is also home to the most up-to-date facilities, and many ‘firsts’ in MRI, CT and ultrasound have been accomplished at Robarts Research Institute and the surrounding hospitals.

“Authors were invited to contribute from around the world based upon their contributions to what we viewed as important new developments in any of the subfields of medical physics,” said co-editor Devon Godfrey, PhD, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at Duke University School of Medicine. “The fact that so many excellent chapters were written by authors from Schulich Medicine & Dentistry is a reflection of the impressive collection of scientific and medical talent base there.”

While there is a fair amount of work that goes into editing a textbook, Van Dyk explained the work is enjoyable when there is enthusiastic support and a high-level quality.

“Every one of my colleagues who were asked to participate in authoring a chapter or two did so enthusiastically and unhesitatingly,” he said. “It is extremely rewarding when there is this level of enthusiasm, and the task of editing becomes almost trivial when the product provided is superb.”

Congratulations to the following faculty members, trainees and alumni on their contributions to Advances in Medical Physics, Volume 6: Jerry Battista, PhD; Jacob Van Dyk, PhD; Terry Peters, PhD; Aaron Fenster, PhD; John Ronald, PhD; Paula Foster, PhD; Eugene Wong, PhD; Cristian Linte, PhD’10; Donna Murrell, PhD’16; Katie Parkins, MSc Candidate.