Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute

 Academic Programs:

MEDICAL PHYSICS

  1. Program DirectorsAccreditation of Medical Physics Education Program
  2. Program Goals and Objectives
  3. Program Evolution and History
  4. Curriculum
  5. Samples of Academic Plans
  6. Admissions
  7. Graduation Time
  8. ABR Certification of our students
  9. Faculty
  10. Student Stipends
  11. Facilities

 

Program Directors

Dr. Tushar K. Ghosh, Co-Director of Medical Physics Program, Students Advising Coordinator
(Duties: Admissions, Advising coordination, Student progress monitor)
Dr. Evan Boote, Co-Director of Medical Physics Program, Curriculum Coordinator
(Duties: Curriculum monitoring, Course evaluation coordinator)
Dr. Sudarshan K. Loyalka, Co-Director of Medical Physics Program, Internship Coordinator
(Duties: Intern placement, Research progress monitoring, Coordination with other programs)


Program Goals and Objectives

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Although the Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute currently offers both MS and PhD degrees that focus on Medical Physics, this document specifically addresses only accreditation for the existing Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering with a Focus in Medical Physics degree.

One goal of the NSEI Medical Physics program is to nurture and encourage students from under-represented groups to pursue degrees in Medical Physics. We are proud of the diverse student background and altruistic relationships and initiatives that we have in the NSEI.  

Students admitted to the NSEI Medical Physics program will have a BS degree in physics or a related engineering or physical science.  Admission to NSEI emphasizes a strong foundation in basic physics, with coursework generally equivalent to an undergraduate minor in physics.  Students with this initial background will require 34 credit hours to complete the Masters degree.  Our goal is to thoroughly educate students in the areas of Radiological Physics and Dosimetry, Health and Radiation Physics, Radiation Biology, and Anatomy and Physiology, as well as in a sequence of special core topics that will make up a knowledge base of divergent materials as directed in AAPM Report No. 197.  Students in this degree program will spend a summer (8 to 10 weeks) in a hospital or clinical setting to receive practical clinical exposure by virtue of working directly, side-by-side with practicing medical physicists and radiation oncologists.

Program students will also be required to complete a graduate-level research project on a topic related to Medical Physics.  The results of the project research will be presented to the department in a seminar and defended before a committee of departmental Faculty.  It is also expected that students will submit one or more papers based on their research projects for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals and may present their work at national meetings as well.

 


Program Evolution and History

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The Nuclear Engineering program at the University of Missouri was officially established in 1964 as a graduate only program offering MS and PhD degrees.  The program awarded its first MS degree that very year.  The program was initially located in the MU Graduate School and was later moved to the MU College of Engineering where it remained until 2002 when it was moved from the College of Engineering back into the Graduate School as the foundation of a new campus-wide Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute (NSEI) designed to better facilitate collaborations among the many groups on campus with nuclear related interests.
The Medical Physics program at the University of Missouri was officially started in the fall of 1976 through the offering of a course on Clinical Dosimetry.  In the fall of the following year, a course on Physical Diagnostics of Radiation was offered.  Several new Medical Physics courses continued to be added during subsequent years.  These included: (1) Radiation Biology (NU ENG 328); (2) Ultrasound Systems (EL ENG 301); (3) Advanced Topics in Clinical Physical Radiotherapy (NU ENG 401) Part II of Topics on Clinical Physical Radiotherapy, (4) Advanced Topics on Image Analysis (EL ENG 401); and (5) Elements of Physiology (PHYSIO 201).
Medical Physics as a focus area was officially approved by the Missouri Coordinating Board of Higher Education around 1980 and the first official nuclear engineering degree with an emphasis in Medical Physics was awarded in the summer of 1981.  The Medical Physics program was restructured around the year 2000 when the program started offering a core of four courses that all medical physics students were recommended to take: (1) Physics of Diagnostic Radiology (NU ENG 8435), (2) Clinical Physics in Radiotherapy (NU ENG 8439), (3) Ultrasound & Magnetic Resonance Imaging (NU ENG 8452), and (4) Clinical Physics of Nuclear Medicine (NU ENG 8454).
A further modification of the curriculum was made in 2004-2005 by introducing several new courses that emphasized imaging science.  Currently, we offer following courses for our Medical Physics students on a regular basis:  (1) Radiation Oncology Imaging, (2) Radiation Biology, (3) Ultrasound & Magnetic Resonance Imaging, (4) Dosimetry, (5) Physics of Diagnostic Radiology, (6) Clinical Physics in radiotherapy, and (7) Clinical Physics of Nuclear Medicine
Currently, faculty from Washington University in St. Louis are teaching various courses, advising students, and providing summer internships to our students.  In the last five years, our students have also had internships at a number of other institutions, including Bryan LGH Medical Center, NE; Joe Arrington Cancer Center, TX; Forest Park Hospital, MO; and Missouri Cancer Associates, MO.


 

Curriculum

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Degree Requirements

The Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering with a focus in Medical Physics degree program requires 34 credit hours not counting prerequisites.  Students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 out of 4.0 and participate in an internship program in order to graduate.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite Courses

Students with the following prerequisites courses will be admitted directly to the program and allowed to take the required courses discussed below.

            Students without the following prerequisite courses may be admitted into the program on probation (as a pre-Medical Physics student).  The Director of Graduate Studies, upon consultation with the Graduate Program Committee, will suggest the courses these students must take in order to continue in the program.  Also, students must maintain a GPA of 3.0/4.0 or better in prerequisite courses before being formally admitted into the program. Prerequisite courses are:

 

Students must present transcripts as evidence of having previously taken these courses or equivalents to satisfy these prerequisites.  International students will be required to submit an independent evaluation of their courses and grades by an accepted US evaluation service such as the International Evaluation Service: Center for Applied Research, Evaluation and Education Inc. (IESCAREE).

Required Courses:

The required, basic curriculum is presented below.  This course sequence is taken by all students in the Masters Degree program. As mentioned earlier, thirty four (34) credit hours are required for graduation. 

Generally students applying for the Program are deficient in the human anatomy prerequisite.  Students will be recommended to take a course on Human Anatomy Lecture (PTH AS 2201) from the medical school during the first year. Students will not receive any credit towards 34 credit hours for this course, since this is a freshman/sophomore level course and the graduate school does not allow graduate credit for courses of this level.  Currently, we only recommend this course to our Medical Physics students, but all Medical Physics students will be required to take this course starting Fall 2010.  The courses that will constitute 34 credit hours required for graduation are listed below.

 

Often times, during the summer internship, students and their mentors are able to find a project that can be pursued further after the internship, to qualify as a Master’s research project. 

All courses of study must be approved by the student's advisor and/or the student's committee. 
The frequency of offering of these courses is given below. As can be seen from the table, all students will have adequate opportunity to take these courses during their studies in the NSEI.  This is further explained in the sample Plan of Study.

Courses and offering frequency

Course Number

Course Name

Credit Hours

Occurrence

 7085

Project (3 credits for Master’s level research)

3

Every Semester

7087

Seminar

1

Fall/Spring Semesters

7328

Introductory Radiation Biology

3

Every Fall Semester

7346

Introduction to Nuclear Reactor Engineering I

3

Every Fall Semester

7391

Nuclear Radiation Detection

3

Every Spring Semester

8439

Clinical Physics in Radiotherapy

3

Taught every other year

8404

Medical Physics Training Laboratory

3

Every Spring Semester

8409

Interactions of Radiation w/Matter (atomic & nuclear physics)

3

Every Fall Semester

8429

Radiation Dosimetry

3

Typically taught every other year during the Spring semester

8435

Fundamentals of Imaging in Medicine

3

Typically taught every other year.

8452

Ultrasound & Magnetic Resonance Imaging

3

Typically taught every other year.

8454

Clinical Physics of Nuclear Medicine

3

Typically taught every other year

The other requirements for successful completion of the degree program are given below.

 

Curriculum - Design and Content

This curriculum is based upon AAPM Report #197.  The courses that students are required to take for the Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering with a Focus in Medical Physics degree are designed to cover most of the topics, if not all, listed in this report.  Below is explained which course or courses cover the topics listed within the core topics section in Report #197. 

Courses at MU that cover listed topics in Report #197

Core Topics Listed in AAPM Report #197

Course(s) at MU that cover these Topics

Radiological Physics and Dosimetry

Interaction of Radiation with Matter,
Radiation Dosimetry

Radiation Protection and Radiation Safety

Radiation Safety,
Introduction to Nuclear Reactor Engineering I

Fundamentals of Imaging in Medicine

Fundamentals of Imaging in Medicine

Radiobiology

Introductory Radiation Biology

Anatomy and Physiology

Elementary Anatomy Lecture

Special Topics

Research projects,
Seminar,
Advanced Engineering Mathematics

Imaging Science

Ultrasound & Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Radiation Therapy

Clinical Physics of Radiotherapy

Imaging for Treatment Guidance and Monitoring

Fundamentals of Imaging in Medicine,
Ultrasound & Magnetic Resonance Imaging,
Internship

Laboratory Training

Medical Physics Training Laboratory
(Nuclear Radiation detection),
Nuclear Reactor Laboratory,
Ultrasound & Magnetic Resonance Imaging
(2 to 3 labs in the course),
Dosimetry (2 labs)

 

The faculty continually updates the curriculum in consultation with Graduate Program Committee and based on the student feedback via formalized course, laboratory, and instructor evaluations.

A brief description of the courses that are available through the university catalog is given below.  The descriptions are written based on the university guidelines.

 

Brief Description of Prerequisite Courses

Radiation Safety: Types and origins of radiation; radiation detection and measurement; radiation interactions; shielding; dose calculations; federal, state and local regulations; and procedures for safe uses of radiation. Laboratory experiments in radiation measurements and protection.  Prerequisite: college physics, calculus based.

Advanced Engineering Mathematics: Applies ordinary and partial differential equations to engineering problems; Fourier's series; determinants and matrices; Laplace transforms; analog computer techniques.

Elementary Anatomy Lecture: Basic microscopic and gross human anatomy for Nursing, and Health Profession students.

Description of Required Courses

Introductory Radiation Biology: Concepts of ionizing radiations, their actions on matter through effects on simple chemical systems, biological molecules, cells, organisms, man.  Prerequisite: junior standing, Sciences/Engineering; one course in Biological Sciences and Physics/Chemistry; or instructor's consent.

Introduction to Nuclear Reactor Engineering I: Engineering principles of nuclear power systems, primarily for the production of electrical energy.

Nuclear Radiation Detection: Principles and application of radiation detectors and analyzers: ionization, Geiger-Muller, proportional, liquid and solid scintillation, semiconductor, pulse height analyzers, coincidence circuits, data reduction, tracer applications, and activation analysis.  Lectures and laboratory.  Prerequisite: senior standing or instructor's consent.

Clinical Physics of Radiotherapy: Principles and applications of radiation producing units, exposure and dose measurements, and calibration. External beam physics parameters and application to fixed field and rotational field treatment planning. Prerequisite: instructor’s consent.

Medical Physics Training Laboratory: Neutron activation analysis, instrumentation, reactivity evaluation. Diagnostic Imaging (CT, x-ray and digital imaging), Ultrasound and MRI Quality Control, External Beam Radiation Therapy, Brachytherapy Radiation Therapy, Nuclear Medicine/SPECT/PET QC, Health Physics. Prerequisites: instructor’s consent.

Interaction of Radiation with Matter: Theory/applications of radiation interaction processes.  Review nuclear physics concepts; radioactive decay; sources/spectra of ionizing radiation; collision mechanisms for changed particles, electromagnetic radiation, neutrons for interaction with matter.  Prerequisite: Entrance requirements.

Radiation Dosimetry: Basis and applications of conventional and microscopic radiation dosimetry.  Dose concepts and quantities; biological dose-response models; dose measurement principles; photon, charged particle, and neutron dosimetry.  Prerequisite: NU ENG 8409.  Recommended: NU ENG 4328.

Radiation Oncology Imaging: Principles and applications of X-ray production and interactions.  Image production concepts including X-ray film, intensifying screens, grids, fluoroscopy, image intensification and television monitors.  Image quality analysis and assessment.  Prerequisites: NU ENG 8409 or equivalent or instructor's consent.

Ultrasound and Magnetic Resonance Imaging: The physical principles of MRI and ultrasound including clinical instrumentation, artifacts in images, biological effects and quality control.  Images obtained with both techniques will be presented. Prerequisite: NU ENG 4391, 8409, 4306 or equivalent.

Clinical Physics of Nuclear Medicine: Physical principles, statistics of radionuclide decay and highlights into the most current instrumentation to utilize in vivo radionuclides for both diagnostic imaging and therapy. Also includes brachytherapy. Prerequisite: instructor’s consent.

Samples of Academic Plans

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Sample academic plan

PLAN 1 (Even Year)

PLAN 2 (Odd Year)

Semester 1 (Fall) Yr 1*

Semester 1 (Fall) Yr 1

1.

Radiation Safety

1.

Radiation Safety

2.

Advanced Engineering Mathematics

2.

Advanced Engineering Mathematics

3.

Interaction of Radiation with Matter

3.

Interaction of Radiation with Matter

4.

Elementary Anatomy Lecture

4.

Elementary Anatomy Lecture

Semester 2 (Spring) Yr 1

Semester 2 (Spring) Yr 1

4.

Nuclear Radiation Detection

4.

Nuclear Radiation Detection

5.

Radiation Dosimetry

5.

Ultrasound & Magnetic Resonance Imaging

6.

Clinical Physics of Nuclear Medicine

6.

Clinical Physics of Radiotherapy

Semester 3 (Summer) Yr 1

Semester 3 (Summer) Yr 1

7.

Internship

7.

Internship

Semester 4 (Fall) Yr 2

Semester 4 (Fall) Yr 2

8.

Introduction to Nuclear Reactor Engineering I

8.

Introduction to Nuclear Reactor Engineering I

9.

Fundamentals of Imaging in Medicine

9.

Fundamentals of Imaging in Medicine

10.

Introductory Radiation Biology

10.

Introductory Radiation Biology

Semester  5 (Spring) Yr 2

Semester  5 (Spring) Yr 2

11.

Medical Physics Training Laboratory

12.

Medical Physics Training Laboratory

12.

Ultrasound & Magnetic Resonance Imaging

13.

Radiation Dosimetry

13

Clinical Physics of Radiotherapy

 

Clinical Physics of Nuclear Medicine

Semester 6 (Summer) Yr 2

Semester 6 (Summer) Yr 2

14.

Research

14.

Research

15.

Seminar

15.

Seminar

*The schedule for the first semester will depend on the student’s background.  For example, if the student has already taken the required mathematics courses, there is no need to take Advanced Engineering Mathematics. Based on experience, four courses in the first semester is not an excessive load.

Special Courses

Several special topic courses are also available to students. Some of these special advanced level courses are offered during summer so that students have a chance to take them and does not interfere too much with their plan of study. The special topic courses that are offered in the past include: Advanced Brachytherapy and Physics of Diagnostic Radiology.


Students

Admissions

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General Process
Once a prospective student is identified, or when a student makes enquiries about the Medical Physics program, the student is directed towards our website where all the relevant information is posted.  If requested by a student, paper copies of the admissions materials are mailed.

The applicant must complete and submit the online application for the Graduate School’s Apply Yourself system.  The applicant must send official transcripts to the Graduate School (also TOEFL scores for international applicants).  Applicants must also submit an official copy of their general GRE scores.  Three reference letters must be submitted by the applicant’s professors or employers, who should be able to address both the potential of the applicant for graduate studies as well as the work habits and character of the student.  These letters can be uploaded or typed online.  There is also a reference form online that must be completed by the same references.  The applicant must also complete the online FAFSA form for purposes of determining financial need.

The official deadline for Fall applications is March 1st.  The deadline for the spring semester is November 1st.  When an applicant’s file is complete, it is sent to the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), who circulates the file among the Admissions Committee members.  The members of the Admissions Committee provide written comments to the DGS on the Evaluation Form attached to the front of the file.  If the decision is not unanimous, the DGS calls a meeting of the committee to finalize the decision.  The secretary then contacts the applicant by email, usually the same day, and follows up with an official letter soon after that, usually the next day.  In the evaluation form, the committee members also indicate if the student should be supported financially and, if yes, at what level.  The DGS then explores possible funding sources.  The DGS circulates the accepted student files among the Medical Physics faculty seeking any expressions of particular interest in the various students and exploring if any of the faculty are willing to support the student.  The student is informed accordingly.  Programmatic support is not pre-guaranteed for any accepted student.  The application processing time frame is given below.

Timeline for application process.


Fall

Spring

Application Dead Line: March 1

Application Dead Line: September 1

Admission Committee Decision for Admission: April 1

Admission Committee Decision deadline: October 1

Admission Committee Decision for Financial Support: May 1

Admission Committee Decision for Financial Support: October 15

Acceptance Notification by Students to the Program: June 1

Acceptance Notification by Students to the Program: November 1

 

Specific Admission Requirements for Medical Physics Program

Students must have the following credentials for consideration of admission into the Medical Physics program.

 

The University of Missouri is an equal opportunity institution.  The University of Missouri does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, or status as a protected veteran.  The Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute follows the same guidelines when selecting students.  Students are chosen solely on the basis of merit.  The educational philosophy of the NSEI faculty is that, once we admit a student into our program, it is the joint responsibility of the faculty and student to ensure that the student completes the degree successfully and has adequate training to be successful in his/her future professional career.

Graduation Time

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The average completion time for a MS degree is between 18 and 24 months.  We monitor student progress very closely and make sure that all needed courses are available to students within this timeframe.  Some students require matriculation beyond 24 months if their progress in research is hampered.  Although we are very careful in selecting research projects for students, occasionally various unseen issues can delay their progress.

ABR Certification of our students

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We are encouraging our current students to take Part 1of the ABR certification examination during the last semester of their MS studies or right after their graduation.  The ABR certification of our alumni provides valuable insight into the quality of our program.  Significant numbers of our graduates are certified.


Faculty

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A list of the faculty involved with the Medical Physics program at the NSEI and their role is described briefly below.   

Participating faculty

Faculty

Type of Affiliation with NSEI

Rank, Home Department and Institution

Teaching, Advising, Research Advisors

Evan J. Boote

Adjunct Research Associate Professor

Research Associate Professor, Department of Radiology, MU  

Cathy Cutler

Adjunct Research Associate Professor

Research Assoc. Prof, .MURR

Tushar K. Ghosh

Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, NSEI

 

Sreekrishna Goddu

Adjunct Assistant  Professor

Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, Washington University

Timothy Hoffman

Adjunct Professor

Professor, Department of Hematology, MU

Enrique Izaguirre

Adjunct Assistant  Professor

Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, Washington University

Kattesh Katti

Adjunct Professor

Professor, Department of Radiology, MU  

Eric Klein

Adjunct Professor

Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, Washington University

Jimmy Lattimer

Adjunct Associate Professor

Associate Professor, Veterinary Medicine, MU

Harold Li

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, Washington University

Daniel Low

Adjunct Professor

Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, Washington University

Sudarshan K. Loyalka

Curator’s Professor, Director, PSRC, NSEI

 

Wei Lu                  

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Instructor, Department of Radiation Oncology, Washington University

Lixin Ma

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor, Department of Radiology, MU  

William H. Miller

Professor, NSEI

 

Mark A. Prelas

H.O. Croft Professor, Director of Research, NSEI

 

Dharani Rangaraj

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Instructor, Department of Radiation Oncology, Washington University

Susan Richardson

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Instructor, Department of Radiation Oncology, Washington University

Jeffry Smith

Adjunct Associate Professor

Associate Professor, Department of Radiology, MU  

Robert V. Tompson

Associate Professor, NSEI

 

Advising and Research Faculty

James Case

Adjunct Professor

Cardiovascular Consultants, Kansas City

James Cullom

Adjunct Professor

Cardiovascular Consultants, Kansas City


 

Student Stipends

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Although it is the goal of the Program faculty to provide student funding through graduate assistantships throughout the course of graduate study, only a limited number of assistantship are given at the MS level.  Generally, all our PhD students are supported either from internal or external sources. Methods available to finance graduate assistantships and fellowships include

Currently our students are supported from the Graduate Assistance in the Area of National Need program of the Department of Education, the Life Sciences Center fellowships, Washington University, MU Radiology Department, Kansas City’s Cardiovascular Imaging Technologies, and internal departmental resources. The faculty and staff of the NSEI work with the students to identify and apply for many types of funding; including financial aid, fellowships, and assistantships. Financial aid is awarded to students based on merit, financial need, or both.  Merit-based scholarships are awarded based on academic achievement or some special characteristic, skill, talent or ability. Need-based aid is given to students who can show they have financial need after filling out the FAFSA. Most financial aid is awarded on the basis of need.  There are three kinds of need-based aid: (1) Federal Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. (2) Federal loan programs at MU include the Ford Federal Direct Loan Program (the largest program), the Federal Perkins Loan, and the Nursing Student Loan, and (3) Work-Study is money you earn by working at a part-time job for the University.


 

Facilities

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Libraries
Students have access to Engineering library, Health Science library, MU Main Library. Also UM System library provides access to libraries at all four campuses, and to interlibrary loan systems.

 

The imaging equipment in the Radiation Oncology Department at Washington University includes the following and are available for student training.



Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute
E2433 Lafferre Hall,
University of Missouri,
Columbia, MO 65211 (573) 882-8201