Physics in Radiation Medicine: From Dosimetry to Treatment Personalization

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The traditional role of medical physics in cancer radiotherapy is to provide clinical service to ensure that radiation therapy can be accurately and safely delivered. The medical physics research endeavour, over the years, has been involved in the development of procedures and devices to enable that goal. In recent times, cancer and its treatment, as a complex process, is increasingly being addressed and researched by quantitative scientists in collaboration with basic researchers and clinicians. In radiation medicine, as in other fields of medicine, there is a emphasis on approaches that help make treatments more personalized through multimodality imaging, radiomics techniques, adaptive radiation therapy and machine learning. This presentation will review aspects of our research program related to novel detectors and procedures for accurate small beam dosimetry and the evolution in our research towards addressing treatment personalization by integrating dose metrics with other metrics extracted from multimodality imaging. We will also briefly touch upon the current and future role of medical physics research and the impact it has on clinical service and medical physics training requirements.


Dr. Seuntjens (Ph.D, Ghent, Belgium, 1991) is a medical radiation physicist, James McGill Professor and Director of Medical Physics at McGill University since 2009. He has a background in fundamental dosimetry and Monte Carlo numerical simulations and has been deeply involved in the experimental work behind calibration protocols such as AAPM TG-51. The clinical-academic environment at McGill created unique opportunities to apply advanced dosimetry techniques to clinically relevant problems and led to numerous projects in clinical dosimetry, novel detectors, different approaches to photon-electron mixed-beam treatment techniques, the impact of more realistic dose calculations on patient treatment planning, etc. Over many years, Seuntjens has also been closely involved with different dosimetry-related committees in the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the International Commission for Radiation Units and Measurements (ICRU) and most recently in the preparation of protocols and reviews for clinical dosimetry of small fields used in stereotactic radiation therapy. His current interests lie in studies of the combination of biophysical metrics that best predict treatment outcome and ultimately allow for a more personalized, data-based optimization of outcomes. In the area of the training of the next-generation medical physicists, Seuntjens launched, with L. Beaulieu at Laval University, the Medical Physics Research Training Network (MPRTN) supported by NSERC with the goal to revamp and broaden the research training of medical physicists through collaboration between two CAMPEP programs, academic, government, clinical and industry partners. Seuntjens’ research and R&D programs are supported by NSERC, CIHR and industry.