The multidisciplinary Medical Physics research programs are primarily focused on addressing problems in Diagnostic Imaging and Radiation Oncology. Exciting and award-winning research is being carried out in such diverse areas as breast imaging using MR, microwaves and x-ray scattering, portal image dosimetry and treatment verification, image processing, radiation therapy treatment delivery optimization, spectroscopic MRI, stereotactic radiosurgery and the modeling, simulation and analysis of radiation transport.
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Faculty in Medical Physics
Adjunct faculty in Medical Physics
Niranjan VenugopalAdjunct Professor, Physics and Astronomy Program Director, Medical Physics Residency
Who are medical physicists?
Medical physicists are scientists with graduate training (MSc or PhD) specializing in the application of Physics in medicine, particularly in diagnostic and therapeutic technologies and in protecting patients, staff and the public from radiation hazards. Their work involves the application of their knowledge of radioactivity, x-rays, ultrasound and electromagnetic fields and frequently includes problem-solving, modeling and simulation.
What do medical physicists do?
Medical physicists work in clinical, academic and industrial settings. Clinical medical physicists typically work in hospitals and cancer centers in diagnostic imaging and radiation therapy, verifying that equipment is functioning correctly and helping to deliver optimal patient care. They work closely with physicians, technologists and other clinical staff to ensure that therapeutic and diagnostic equipment is used safely and effectively. Some medical physicists work in universities, where they develop new technology or solve fundamental physics problems that can lead to new imaging techniques or treatments, as well as teaching courses aimed at helping students learn what they need to enter the field. Many clinical medical physicists have academic affiliations at universities where they train new staff (including physicians, technologists and prospective physicists) and mentor students conducting research. Finally, medical physicists are employed in the industry where they assist engineering teams in developing and refining new hardware or provide scientific and technical support to end-users of medical imaging and therapy technology.
What is radiation therapy?
Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy radiation in the treatment of cancer. This includes external beam therapy with radiation beams that pass through the patient and brachytherapy, where radioactive sources are placed inside the patient directly near a tumor site. Based out of CancerCare Manitoba, our Radiation Therapy Physics faculty have roles in treatment planning and radiotherapy machine, testing, calibration and troubleshooting.
What is diagnostic imaging?
Diagnostic imaging physicists are involved in the use of x-ray, ultrasound, magnetic resonance and nuclear medicine for imaging patients. The roles of a medical physicist in diagnostic imaging include consulting before equipment purchases, testing systems to ensure that they are operating within acceptable limits before and after installation and helping clinical staff optimize their imaging techniques.
How do I become a medical physicist?
Typically, the first step in becoming a medical physicist is to earn a Bachelor of Science (honours) degree in Physics. After obtaining a BSc, a graduate degree (MSc or PhD) in Medical Physics provides the training needed to be ready to work in the field. The University of Manitoba offers a research (thesis) based MSc and a CAMPEP (Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Education Programs), accredited PhD degree. Medical Physics students planning careers in academia or clinical medical physics generally complete a CAMPEP accredited PhD degree to be competitive in the job market. During a graduate degree, students are supported through an award or grant. After completing a PhD, students who wish to go into clinical practice will typically complete a two-year training program (residency) in medical physics, during which the resident rotates through clinical postings. Once the residency is completed, eligible clinical physicists can write a certification examination from the Canadian College of Physicists in Medicine (CCPM).
Graduates who wish to work in academia typically complete a post-doctoral fellowship (1-3 years) before obtaining an academic position at a university. There they can build or become part of a research program with funding from agencies such as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR), or the Canadian Cancer Society.
Working in the industry requires completing a graduate degree before finding an opportunity with a company that needs the skills that a medical physicist can offer. Medical device manufacturers often look for people with medical physics backgrounds to join their research and development or clinical applications teams, depending on their experience.
Why should I join the Medical Physics residency training program?
CancerCare Manitoba (CCMB) operates a clinical residency training program for radiation oncology medical physics. The program has operated continuously for over 20 years and is externally accredited by CAMPEP (Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Education Programs), with initial accreditation achieved in 2009.
This two-year training program prepares candidates for a clinical medical physics position, providing detailed clinical instruction in rotations covering radiation dosimetry, treatment planning, brachytherapy and radiation protection. Candidates must complete a comprehensive set of skill signoffs in each rotation and numerous oral exams throughout the training program.
Program graduates are well-prepared to work as clinical medical physicists and are also eligible to take the national certification exam offered by the Canadian College of Physicists in Medicine.
Learn more about Medical Physics graduate program.
Medical and Health Physics is an exciting and expanding field of physics that applies our fundamental knowledge of physics to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of various human conditions. The Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manitoba offers training in Medical and Health Physics, leading to an MSc degree or a Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Education Programs, Inc. (CAMPEP) accredited PhD degree. The research-based MSc provides a good entry point for students interested in exploring graduate-level medical physics before going on to the CAMPEP-accredited PhD program. A conversion from the research-based MSc to a CAMPEP accredited PhD is possible for excellent students.
On starting medical physics graduate studies, students are provided with a checklist detailing the items that must be completed to meet the elements required for a CAMPEP-accredited program. The appropriate instructor signs off each completed element on this form. Once all requirements have been met, the form will be reviewed by the Chair of the Examination Subcommittee for completeness and signed off by the Program Director. A certificate of completion will be provided to qualifying students together with their degree certificate only if all of the CAMPEP requirements have been met. Note: The research (thesis) based M.Sc. is designed for students entering the field and does not meet the criteria for CAMPEP accreditation.
Learn more about the available facilities.
The University of Manitoba has a large modern Medical Physics research laboratory in which many medical physics graduate students carry out research. The lab contains breast microwave imaging systems of different designs, Vector Network Analysers, GPU-based computing systems for machine-learning-based research, a low-field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system and clinical ultrasound systems for research and teaching. The Department has access to excellent computing resources, 3D printing capabilities and an environment suited to developing and testing medical devices.
Research is also carried out in collaboration with colleagues in Engineering, Radiology and Radiation Oncology. Through collaboration with faculty at the University of Winnipeg, CancerCare Manitoba and the Department of Radiology on the Bannatyne Campus, students can access clinical equipment that may be used for research. For radiation therapy research, this includes CT simulators, linear accelerators for megavoltage external beam treatment, an orthovoltage unit, a high dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy treatment unit and treatment planning software. Available clinical diagnostic imaging modalities include x-ray, computed tomography (CT), MRI, ultrasound, positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) systems.