How is Duke Medical Physics Unique?

The Duke Medical Physics Graduate Program is unique in many regards. We have a world class faculty, amazing institution resources, and we live in a great part of the country. Let's learn more about each in turn.

World Class Faculty

First and foremost, the most unique resource of the Duke Medical Physics program is the faculty. There are currently over 50 faculty members drawn from five departments: RadiologyRadiation OncologyRadiation SafetyPhysics, and Biomedical Engineering. Thanks to the diversity of our faculty, we are one of few programs that offers balanced training in four tracks covering every major area of medical physics: diagnostic imaging, medical health physics, nuclear medicine, and radiation therapy. Many of our faculty are internationally-respected experts in their fields of study. With support from various governmental and non-governmental grants and contracts, our faculty have established well-recognized laboratories that are distributed over 25,000 square feet of dedicated space. These labs are dedicated to expanding the boundaries of the current state of the art in medical physics.

Institution Resources

Second, the Program draws upon the resources of one of the best medical Centers and universities in the United States. This translates into cutting edge facilities for education, research, and clinical training. Duke Medicine has recently opened 3 major new buildings totalling over 900,000 square feet at a cost of nearly US$900 million. These buildings are the Trent Semans Center for Health EducationDuke Cancer Center (see pictures below), and Duke Medicine Pavillion. The latter two co-locate much of the Departments of Radiology and Radiation Oncology, which are major contributors to our program. Together, those departments operate an abundance of diagnostic imaging equipment including MRI, CT, and every flavor of molecular imaging with PET-CT, SPECT, and SPECT-CT. Additionally, radiation oncology has an array of state-of-the-art linear accelerators capable of performing intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), volumetric modulated radiation therapy (VMAT), image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT), stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), total body irradiation (TBI) and total skin irradiation (TSI). There is a dedicated brachytherapy suite which allows real-time administration and CT/MR guidance of both low-dose-rate and high-dose-rate brachytherapy. Medical Health Physics oversees and regulates radiation use throughout the medical center as well as the university, including the Triangle Universities Nuclear Laboratory and Duke Free Electron Laser Laboratory

Duke Cancer Ctr photos by Dukehealth.org (left) and Taoran Li (right).

Our CAMPEP-accredited program is one of the few that equally emphasizes all four major areas of medical physics: diagnostic imaging, nuclear medicine, medical health physics, and radiation therapy. In addition to our diverse program curriculum, we also offer an optional summer clinical internship for MS students interested in additional clinical training. The Medical Physics Program itself has 5,000 square feet in Hock Plaza (see picture below) containing an expandable classroom, a dedicated laboratory, multiple areas for group and individual study, administrative offices, and a kitchen. Existing equipment in the Medical Physics Program laboratory includes radiation protection lab equipment (whole body counter, high resolution germanium gamma detector, liquid scintillation counter), dedicated equipment for radiation dosimetry, and a stand-alone gamma camera scanner. Finally, there are two Eclipse workstations donated by Varian for the exclusive educational use of our students.

Med Phys Grad Program classroom (top) and our common work room for students (bottom). (photos by Leith Rankin and Taoran Li)

Best Place to Live

Last but not least, we are blessed to be located in the Research Triangle region of North Carolina. The Triangle has consistently won awards for being one of the best places to live in the US. The New York Times featured us in 36 Hours in Durham, NC. Indeed, this is a great place to live, work, and do business. But here are some other accolades that might surprise you: Bon Appetit named us America's Foodiest Small TownForbes ranked us among the top 10 Geekiest Cities and Best Places for Business and Careers, and Yahoo Travel called us one of the Best Cities for Singles

Aside from all the awards, what's there to do in this town? The climate is mild, and the campus is literally surrounded by the 7,000 acre Duke Forest, so there are endless possibilities for sport or relaxation. Be sure to tour the Duke Chapel and Sarah P. Duke Gardens. The  Durham Performing Arts Center brings 200+ shows a year from around the world, including Broadway, concerts, and comedy. Thanks to the movie inspired by them, the Durham Bulls are probably the most famous minor league baseball team in the country. The American Dance Festival, hailed as the world's greatest, has brought us amazing performances for many decades. And of course, if you aren't already a Duke basketball fan, you just might be converted into one of the (in)famous "Cameron Crazies." There's just something indescribable about the experience of Cameron Indoor Stadium, where students get the best courtside seats and the energy is simply electrifying. The Duke Graduate School has prepared a list of resources for student life in Durham including information on housing, transportation, history, and entertainment.

Ready to venture a little out of town? Just a few hours to the west lie the Great Smoky Mountains, the most popular national park in the US. A few hours to the east are the beautiful, warm beaches of the Atlantic, including the Outer Banks, 200 miles of federally protected barrier islands where you can often see the ocean on one side and the sound on the other.

When you put all this together, it's no surprise that so many people come to Duke for their training or work, but end up staying here to enjoy the area!


Interior of Duke Chapel (photo by Francisco Robles)