Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering Annual ... UCL MEDICAL PHYSICS AND BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering Annual Newsletter 2016

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    Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering Annual Newsletter 2016TRANSFORMING TECHNOLOGY INTO HEALTHCARE

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    CONTACTS Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering,University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

    Web: 020 7679 0200Email: Twitter: @UCLMedphys



    Once again our newsletter features some of the new and exciting research activity in the department and includes miscellaneous news items which we hope will be of particular interest to former students and staff.

    Research topics include advances in radiotherapy for prostate cancer, image-guided neurosurgical treatment of epilepsy, MRI susceptibility mapping for assessment of cancers, and functional electrical stimulation as an aid for patients with spinal cord injury. We also present new research on the modelling and measurement of high-intensity ultrasound fields, the study of the biomineralization of tissues, new methods of monitoring nasal blockage, and exploring security applications of X-ray phase contrast imaging.

    We are also delighted to include reports from undergraduate students who visit to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, and from research students who took part in a two-week course involving shadowing doctors at the Royal Free Hospital and National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. We also hear from some former students who generously contributed to our 2016 medical physics careers event.

    Finally, we include an article on the importance of inspiring more children, and particularly girls, towards science and engineering, and another on the history of the Joel Chair of Physics Applied to Medicine.

    We hope you enjoy our newsletter. If you have any questions or comments, we would be delighted to hear from you, via

    Jeremy C. Hebden | Head of Department

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    Departmental news

    CENTRE FOR NEUROIMAGING TECHNIQUES EARLY CAREER INVESTIGATOR Dr Jorge Cardoso was winner of the 2015 Early Career Investigator in Neuroimaging Techniques Award, which is awarded annually by the UCL Centre for Neuroimaging Techniques. His work is based mostly on the concept of information propagation, with an emphasis on the Geodesic Information Flow. Image, on right, presents the thickness of the cortical GM as a colour code, with thinner parts parts of the cortex in purple and thicker in green.

    UCL TEACHING AND LEARNING CONFERENCE We were very proud to see the departments strong showing at the UCLs 2016 Teaching and Learning conference. There were 10 presentations from members of the department covering diverse topics such as tutoring, peer assessment, distance learning, developing practical sessions with student support and 3D printing. We were pleased to see the excellent teaching delivered in the department be recognised by UCL. The highlight was undoubtedly the keynote speech given by Stecia Fletcher, one of our undergraduates who has worked with us on two teaching internships.

    OBITUARY In September 2015 we were shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Jenny Nery, an extraordinarily enthusiastic and hard working member of our administrative team. Jenny joined our department in March 2011 as a Research Administrator, where she played a very significant role in establishing one of the highest annual research incomes per academic of any department at UCL. Jenny was promoted in January 2014 to the role of Project Manager of the departments Translational Imaging Group and also managed a 10M Wellcome Trust EPSRC funded project Guided Instrumentation for Fetal Therapy and Surgery. As well as being a highly skilful and effective administrator, Jenny had abundant energy and remarkable proactivity. She loved being busy, and was totally committed to UCL and her colleagues. Jenny made immense contributions to the success and sustained growth of the department, and her lively presence is sadly missed by us all.

    PROVOSTS TEACHING AWARD Dr Jamie Harle, Director of our MSc programme, was awarded the Provosts Teaching Award under the Leadership and Impact category.

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    Departmental news


    Andre Altmann MRC Medical Bioinformatics Research Fellow Frederik Barkhof Professor Christos Bergeles LecturerSergio Bertazzo LecturerRob Cooper EPSRC Healthcare Engineering FellowJan Deprest ProfessorMarco Endrizzi Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow Alexandra Ferrell Finance ManagerJulian Henty Teaching FellowAnna Nikopoulou Teaching and Learning AssistantSeb Ourselin Director of the UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering Neha Shah Staffing OfficerJames Vallerine Senior Teaching and Learning AdministratorWeng Wong Business Development Manager


    Vikki Crowe Moved to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Jo Pearson Jo left the department in June 2015 to take up a position with the UCL Department of Computer Science Marta Polancec Left CMIC/TIG


    Adrien Desjardins Senior LecturerLaura Panagiotaki Senior Research AssociateMaria Zuluaga Valencia Senior Research AssociateMaria del Pilar Garcia Souto Senior Teaching FellowRebecca Yerworth Senior Teaching Fellow


    Professor Clare Elwell spoke at the National Women in Engineering Day 2015, an event packed with inspiring talks, interactive sessions as well as speed-networking sessions with the aim of encouraging and motivating girls and young women to become future engineers.

    INAUGURAL LECTURES 16th July 2015 Professor Ivan Rosenberg gave his Inaugural Lecture titled RadioAstronomy to RadioTherapy: Chasing high energy particles. 18th December 2015 Professor Heather Payne gave her Inaugural Lecture titled RADARS of the lost particle.

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    Research highlights

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    Modelling and measurement of high-intensity ultrasound fields


    Ultrasound is very widely used for medical imaging, and is now increasingly used for the treatment of cancer and other diseases. By focusing very intense ultrasound waves into a small region, tumours are destroyed by rapid heating while surrounding healthy tissue is left unharmed. Currently, focused ultrasound treatments are monitored by real-time imaging rather than planned rigorously in advance, like radiotherapy. Sometimes the treatment fails because the ultrasound beam is distorted by different tissues in the body on its path to the tumour. This means heating may happen in the wrong place, or not at all. This could be avoided by using carefully validated mathematical models to predict the path of the ultrasound in the body.

    One of the primary research areas of the UCL Biomedical Ultrasound Group is the development of model-based treatment planning tools for therapeutic uses of ultrasound. This includes a wide variety of activities, including developing new mathematical models that describe how ultrasound waves propagate through the body, developing new numerical methods to solve these equations to minimise the computing resources needed, developing open-source and regulatory compliant software for use by researchers and clinicians, and performing validation measurements under a wide range of conditions.

    One area of particular interest is for ultrasound therapies in the brain. The main difficulty in performing these treatments is the presence of the skull, which has very different acoustic properties to the soft tissue and brain. This means the ultrasound waves are distorted as they travel through the skull, which in turn destroys the sharp focus. We have been developing new models that can accurately predict and correct for this distortion based on an anatomical image of the patient. An example is shown on the opposite page (lower image), which illustrates the acoustic pressure inside the skull with and without correction for distortion. The models account for all the wave phenomena that occur inside the skull, including absorption, scattering, and the generation of shear waves.

    Another focus of the group is experimental validation to ensure that model predictions are quantitatively accurate.

    This is a critical step towards clinical translation of the treatment planning tools. However, this kind of experiment is challenging because as the ultrasound is intended to destroy tissue, it will often destroy measurement equipment as well. We have been working with the Photoacoustic Imaging Group, led by Professor Paul Beard, to develop and apply new measurement techniques that can rapidly map intense ultrasound fields. An example of a model validation experiment for transcranial therapy is shown on the opposite page (top image).

    The modelling tools developed by the group are periodically released as part of an open-source toolbox called k-Wave. This toolbox is widely used in both academia and industry, and now has more than 5000 registered users from more than 60 countries. As one example, researchers at the Harvard Medical School are using k-Wave to predict non-thermal ablation in the brain using ultrasound. This research was recently featured on the front cover of the journal Medical Physics.

    What is high-intensity focused ultrasound? High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) works by sending a tightly focused beam of ultrasound into the body. At the focus, the ultrasound energy is sufficient to heat the tissue and cause cell death in a very localised region, while the surrounding tissue is not harmed. This is akin to focusing sunlight through a magnifying g


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