News & Events
Welcome to the New Class 2020
(2020-09-11) Medical Physics Graduate Program welcomes first-year students in the Fall 2020 semester, consisting of 15 MS and 2 PhD students. Starting with an intensive 2 week Orientation, the students had an opportunity to hear from the program leadership at the Academic Orientation, and participated in multiple workshops for Imaging Math, Computational Imaging, Anatomy and Physiology, Professionalism, and Safety and Compliance. In the Fall 2020 Semester, most Program instructors decided to conduct hybrid courses which will give the students an opportunity to have in-person sessions in the Medical Physics Classroom and Duke South Clinic.
GRE optional for Duke Medical Physics
(2020-09-11) The Medical Physics Graduate Program of Duke University announced today that the GRE will be optional for this year, i.e., for the entering class of 2021. This change takes effect immediately.
Although the GRE has been a mainstay of graduate applications, there is a strong, nationwide effort to make the GRE optional. This “GRExit” movement is motivated by concerns about the usefulness and fairness of this test (see this Science article). The current pandemic adds obvious challenges to access the test, and may further aggravate racial, ethnic, economic, or other disparities.
In a message to faculty, admissions committee co-chair Dr. Joseph Lo observed, “If you have school-age kids, you probably noticed such disparities in remote learning this spring. Many poor or under-represented minority families didn’t have computers or broadband internet, and in spite of great efforts by the school system, many students just faded away and didn’t even check in with teachers anymore.”
Driven by concerns around both equity and logistics, the Duke Graduate School offered programs the option to not require the GRE for the coming year. As the admissions co-chairs, Drs. Oana Craciunescu, Anuj Kapadia, and Lo brought a unanimous recommendation to proceed, which was endorsed by Program Director Dr. Mark Oldham. The proposal was approved by the 12 faculty members of the admissions committee, followed by a vote of the 42 training faculty.
How will this affect the Duke medical physics admissions process? Applicants may still submit GRE scores, but this is no longer required. In fact, our program has already been de-emphasizing the GRE in recent years, and instead conducts a holistic review that considers all application materials. We will therefore shift our focus to those other factors, including the following: GPA, performance in specific courses, recommendation letters, life/work experience, research abstracts/papers, personal statement, mentor match, and interviews.
In these difficult times, making the GREs optional is one concrete, immediate act that Duke Medical Physics has taken to address concerns about inequity. We strongly believe this is the right thing to do, and the right time to do it. We urge our peer programs to join us in supporting all applicants to medical physics programs.
Photon-Counting CT NIH Grant
(2020-09-11) Paul Segars, PhD and Ehsan Samei, PhD (Radiology) received an NIH/NIBIB R01 grant entitled “Simulation tools for 3D and 4D CT.” First funded in 2005, the latest competing renewal provides an additional 4 years of research support. Photon-counting CT (PCCT) is an emerging new medical imaging technology that can provide better spatial resolution, artifact reduction, and material decomposition. The purpose of this grant is to develop a virtual framework to optimize photon-counting devices and applications in CT imaging. Samei and Segars will use this framework to conduct virtual imaging trials (VITs), where the diagnostic performance of PCCT can be rigorously assessed using realistic models of patient anatomy, CT scanner physics, and radiologist interpretations. VITs can efficiently evaluate imaging technology in ways that are not practical or even possible in the real clinical trials. The long term goal is to establish the usefulness of PCCT in oncologic and cardiac applications. This research takes advantage of the close collaboration that Samei and Segars have developed with industry and the NIH Department of Radiology.
AAPM Featured Physicist
(2020-09-11) Oana Craciunescu, PhD (Radiation Oncology) was featured in a special issue of AAPM Newsletter (September/October 2020, Vol 45, No. 5): WPSC Womens Professional Subcommittees. During the interview, Dr. Cracuinescu has shared her research and clinical experience at Duke University and Medical Center, the biggest professional challenge of her career and the way she overcome it, the most rewarding experience in her daily work, and gave some insights about involvement with the Duke Medical Physics Graduate Program. Per Dr. Craciunescu: “I have been involved with the MPGP since its inception 15 years ago, initially at the teaching and mentoring level (I mentored 11 MS students and served on over 20 PhD and MS thesis committees), and later at the executive level. I served over four years on the executive Admission Committee, and for the last two years as an elected at-large Medical Physics Administrative Council (MPAC) member. In this capacity I got to understand in depth all the aspects of our program. For my role and contributions over the years I was awarded the “Director’s Award for Exemplary Service” in 2017 and 2019, and the “Excellence in Mentorship” award in 2008 and 2018. I also received the “Excellence in Teaching” Award in 2017 from the Radiation Oncology Residency Program. As you mentioned, just recently I was elected RT Track Director. I applied for this position because I think I can help in taking an already successful RT track and further optimize its structure and curriculum to help our graduates be leaders in research and in the clinics of the future, while also supporting faculty to grow their careers within the MP program. As the first woman in a senior leadership position on MPAC, I look forward to also supporting female students and faculty in their careers and to continue working with local chapters of WAM (Woman and Math) and WiSE (Woman in Science and Engineering) to promote STEM fields to middle and high school female students.”
Face Shield Initiative
Medical Physics Program group of students is building the face shields over Zoom
From L to R: Jordan Houri, Scott Hoopingarner, Ericka Chorniak, Lam Lay, Grace Babawale, Zach Gude, Junlan Lu, Vani Yadav, Dami Fasina (not pictured)
(2020-05-29) Medical Physics Program students finished delivering 200 homemade plastic face shields for the Lincoln Community Health Center. Jordan Houri (MS’2021) is in contact with Durham VA Hospital, New Hope Urgent Care, FastMed Urgent Care, and other local health centers collecting more requests for face shields. The students are hoping to deliver these face shields to as many healthcare centers as possible, and they are focusing on clinics primarily in underserved areas that do not have as much funding and access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) resources.
The students reported that they have had very positive feedback from the Lincoln Community Health Center noticing that the staff members found the masks very comfortable due to the foam forehead attachment, in contrast to the other plastic face shields that they have been using, and the staff members are planning to use these shields for a long time.