News & Events

Sea Shanty Appreciation for Our Students

"Sea shanties were sung by sailors in days-of-old to keep spirits up in difficult times: lost at sea, isolated from comforts and family, surrounded by danger. Many of us can relate at this time. So on the occasion of Graduate Student Appreciation Week [ext. link], to show support for our wonderful graduate students, we invite you to enjoy our faculty and staff rendition of The Wellerman!!  Thank you all!!  COVID’s diving and soon may the Wellerman come!”

-Captain Mark Oldham and First Mate Joseph Lo

Crewmates (in order of appearance): Tim Turkington, Anuj Kapadia, Oana Craciunescu, shark, Olga Baranova, Katherine Hand, Robert Reiman, Mark Oldham, Martin Tornai, and Joseph Lo.

New Faculty Rodrigues and Lafata

(2021-03-01) We welcome new faculty members Anna Rodrigues (MS 2012, PhD 2016) and Kyle Lafata (MS  2015, PhD 2018). Dr. Rodrigues is Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology, Associate Director of the Duke Radiation Therapy Physics Residency Program, and an active member of AAPM committees such as MedPhys 3.0. In fact, she leads off the MedPhys 3.0 video [external link], which was made by members and alumni of our program. Her current research interests are in medical physics education, failure mode and effects analysis for PET quality management in radiation therapy, external radiation therapy dosimetry, and LDR eye plaque brachytherapy. In the current spring 2021 semester, she serves as the new instructor for our MP751-2 Academic Skills course.

Dr. Lafata is Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology and Radiology at Duke University. His research focuses on discovery of multiscale imaging biomarkers. Dr. Lafata develops mathematical methods and computational techniques to interrogate disease on both radiological images (radiomics) and digital pathology images (pathomics). His approaches are based on computer vision, statistical pattern recognition, and the applied analysis of differential equations. Learn more about his research at his website [external link].



Teaching Tools for Brachytherapy

(2021-03-01) Odunola Grace Babawale (MS Class of 2021) was awarded a grant from the Duke Innovation Co-Lab to design 3D-printed brachytherapy teaching tools for radiation oncology residents. Ms. Babawale will incorporate a 3D, modular brachytherapy kit into an existing pelvic phantom, thus producing a brachytherapy phantom that can be customized to different patient anatomical sizes. “Radiation oncology residents usually perform their first gynecologic brachytherapy HDR procedures directly on patients in the clinic. This can be a source of anxiety since the treatment outcome depends on the appropriate insertion of the applicators,” said Babawale. “This 3D printed GYN phantom will give the residents an opportunity to hone their insertion skills and potentially boost their confidence in performing these procedures prior to treating patients clinically.”

This project has also received other awards, including another Co-Lab Innovation Grant for Sabrina Campelo (MS Class of 2020). Program faculty Oana Craciunescu (Department of Radiation Oncology) served as the research advisor for both students.



Brain Cancer Imaging Pilot Grant

(2021-02-24) Medical Physics Faculty members Chunhao Wang (Department of Radiation Oncology), Kyle Lafata (Department of Radiology, Department of Radiation Oncology), and Scott Floyd (Department of Radiation Oncology, Pharmacology & Cancer Biology) have received new funding from the Duke Cancer Institute. This Pilot Research Award will focus on new mathematical methods and computational approaches to interrogate brain cancer metastases on MR imaging. Brain metastases from cancer develop in more than 200,000 patients every year and result in mortality rates greater than any other malignancy. Despite aggressive therapy with stereotactic radiosurgery, many patients demonstrate radiological progression of their disease. Drs. Lafata, Wang, and Floyd (shown left to right in figure) aim to model disease progression, differentiate recurrent tumor from radiation necrosis, and identify prognostic imaging biomarkers. The multi-PI team includes expertise in deep learning and radiation treatment planning (Wang), imaging biomarkers and applied mathematics (Lafata), and radiation biology & clinical management of brain tumors (Floyd).



The Physics Behind Tumor Growth

(2021-01-22) Ehsan Samei (Radiology), Adrian Bejan (Mechanical Engineering), and Thomas “TJ” Sauer (Medical Physics PhD student) have developed a predictive theory for tumor growth that approaches the subject from a new point of view. Rather than focusing on the biological mechanisms of cellular growth, the researchers instead use thermodynamics and the physical space the tumor is expanding into, for the purpose of predicting its evolution from a single cell to a complex cancerous mass. In the Biosystems paper [ext. link], they demonstrate how a tumor’s growth and internal reorganization as it grows are directly tied to its need to create greater access to flowing nutrients as well as conduits for removing refuse. They use these insights to predict the growth of cell clusters as a function of structure, and also to predict the critical cluster sizes that mark the transitions from one distinct configuration to the next. This collaboration arose after Dr. Bejan gave a talk in our Distinguished Lectures in Medical Physics series a few years ago. Doctoral student TJ Sauer is the first author of the paper, and his advisor Dr. Samei was the senior author.

Dr. Mary Klotman, Dean of the School of Medicine, tweeted [ext. link]: “This is a great example of how our One Duke philosophy encourages researchers to work together, across schools and disciplines, to make discoveries and solve real world problems.”

 Read full press release here.