Medical Physics

Medical Physics

Curriculum Details for Medical Physics

The program is a three-quarter-long sequence that fulfills requirements outlined in American Association of Physicists in Medicine Reports 197 and 197S.

Over the course of an academic year (three quarters from October through June), students will complete 8 courses (100 units each) and 2 courses (50 units each) to enable them to meet the requirements of TG-197S. Two of the courses offered in the first quarter of the program are prerequisites for four of the remaining courses. Courses that have no prerequisites (Anatomical Structure & Physiological Function of the Human Body and Cancer & Radiation Biology) can be taken at any time during the academic year and may be offered in different quarters from year to year. Students will not be required to take more than 300 units of credit per quarter.

A typical sequence is listed below:

Autumn Quarter

MPHY 35000 Interaction of Ionizing Radiation with Matter (100 units)

Ionizing radiation is the basis for radiation therapy and for many diagnostic imaging studies. This course explores the fundamental modes of interaction between ionizing radiation (both electromagnetic and particulate) and matter, with an emphasis on the physics of energy absorption in medical applications. Topics will include exponential attenuation, x-ray production, charged particle equilibrium, cavity theory, dosimetry, and ionization chambers.

MPHY 34900 Mathematics for Medical Physicists (100 units)

This course focuses on the mathematics that will be used throughout the training of students in the Graduate Programs in Medical Physics. Lectures are given on linear algebra, Fourier analysis, sampling theory, functions of random variables, stochastic processes, estimation theory, signal detection theory, and ROC analysis.

MPHY 35601 Anatomical Structure & Physiological Function of the Human Body (100 units)

Study of the basic anatomy of the human body as demonstrated from cadavers and correlating diagnostic radiographic imaging. Physiological processes of body systems will be examined with an emphasis on its relationship with imaging.

Winter Quarter

MPHY 35100 Physics of Radiation Therapy (100 units)

This course covers aspects of radiation physics necessary for understanding modern radiation therapy. Rigorous theoretical foundations of physical dose calculation for megavoltage energy photons and electrons, biological predictions of therapy outcomes, and brachytherapy are presented. Methods of modeling and implementing radiation therapy treatment planning, evaluation, and delivery are described. Emphasis is placed on current developments in the field including intensity modulated radiation therapy. The course is intended to provide comprehensive knowledge of radiation therapy physics enabling the student to grasp current research in the field.

MPHY 34400 Practicum: Physics of Radiation Therapy (100 units)

This course combines lectures and intensive hands-on experiments. It includes an introduction to thermoluminescent detectors, film and ionization chamber dosimetry, and quality assurance for intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). Training in data acquisition, error analysis, experimental techniques and the safe handling of sealed radiation sources is also included. The basic concepts in Monte Carlo calculations will be presented and measurements made in simple slab phantoms to compare with MC calculations.

MPHY 35900 Cancer and Radiation Biology (100 units)

This course provides students with an overview of the biology of cancer and of the current methods used to diagnose and treat the disease. Lectures from faculty throughout the Biological Sciences Division will include presentations on cancer incidence and mortality, cancer prevention, a molecular biology perspective, the role of genetic markers, methods of treatment (radiation, chemotherapy) and prognosis. The course will be primarily for medical physics graduate students.

Spring Quarter

MPHY 39700 Health Physics (100 units)

This course provides an introduction to fundamental principles of health physics and radiation protection in medical physics environments. A broad spectrum of topics is covered, including but not limited to, radiation detection and measurement, instrumentation, counting statistics, radiation protection criteria, exposure limits and regulations, shielding techniques, monitoring of personnel dose and radiation safety.

MPHY 32000 Overview of the Physics of Medical Imaging (100 units)

This course is for students in the medical physics certificate program. The course presents a comprehensive overview of physics in medical imaging, covering a wide range of clinical imaging modalities including radiography, fluoroscopy, computed tomography (CT), mammography, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and nuclear medicine imaging. The course will introduce the student to the fundamental principles of clinical radiological imaging as well as cutting-edge diagnostic imaging technology.

MPHY 34100 Bioethics for Medical Physicists (50 units)

This course explores ethical issues that arise in the practice of medical physics in research, education and clinical settings. Topics include misconduct (fabrication, falsification and plagiarism) and questionable conduct in scientific research; authorship and publication practices; human subject research (informed consent and irb review, patient/subject privacy and confidentiality; quality improvement vs research; vulnerable subjects); history of human radiation experiments and medical physics; research with animals; incidental findings in radiation therapy and imaging research; conflicts of interest; mentorship; professionalism and AAPM code of ethics; ethics of innovative technologies (charged particle therapy); off label uses of radiation; radiation errors and patient safety; ethics of radiation protection, optimization and justification of medical radiation exposure in therapy and imaging. The course aims to increase students’ awareness of ethical issues they might face as medical physicists and to help them, through case discussions, better recognize, analyze and resolve ethical issues, conflicts and dilemmas.

MSBI 36000 Statistical Methods in Clinical Research (50 Units)

This course introduces basic statistical concepts, such as hypothesis testing, the meaning of P value, and power determination. Other concepts with particular relevance to clinical research design and monitoring-such as the importance of randomization and randomization procedures, stratification, crossover designs, non-randomized concurrent control studies, and the use of historical controls-will also be introduced.

Offered All Quarters

MPHY 30000 Clinical Observation (50 units)

The scope of this course is to expose students to the day-to-day work of clinical medical physicists. Students are offered observation in the clinic of a variety of tasks that medical physicists perform, such as equipment quality control testing. A range of observation topics in diagnostic, therapy, and nuclear medical physics is offered. Participation in five observations is required to receive course credit. This is a special topics course, and students are expected to prepare themselves for each observation.