Research opportunities

Innovative, translational research opportunities in the diverse field of Medical Physics

The Dalhousie University Graduate Programs in Medical Physics are pleased to offer multiple exciting research opportunities for MSc and PhD graduate students. PhD candidates may start their program in January, May or September. MSc candidates begin their program in September only. All positions include full financial support through research stipends or QAship.

To apply, visit our Medical Physics program site.

For general inquiries on our programs, please contact:

James Robar, PhD, FCCPM
Graduate Program Director
Medical Physics, Dalhousie University
james.robar@nshealth.ca

Novel generation of injectable markers and spacers for high precision radiotherapy

The Medical Physics graduate program at Dalhousie University is recruiting a PhD student to work on a project to develop the next generation of injectable spacers and markers based on original, biocompatible materials developed at Dalhousie University for use in radiation oncology, currently a very hot-topic. At a time when a large number of patients are treated using ablative radiation techniques, involving very high dose delivered in a small number of fractions, tracking the target volume in real time and removing critical structures from high dose areas is critical. Novel biomaterials can reduce treatment side effects and enable the safe delivery of very high doses of radiation with great precision. The project involves an existing very strong interdisciplinary collaboration between Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering and will cover imaging, radiation dosimetry, image guided radiotherapy and material science aspects.

The research will include optimizing the material composition for various clinical endpoints, testing it on phantoms using real clinical devices used for patient treatments including multimodality image localization, and evaluating the clinical consequences and dose enhancement using treatment planning systems and/or Monte Carlo simulations.

The PhD program is CAMPEP-accredited and would open the possibility to eventually do a residency in Medical Physics.

Contact:

Dr. Jean-Philippe Pignol
Professor, Radiation Oncology
jean-philippe.pignol@nshealth.ca

Contrast enhanced dual-energy CBCT gadolinium imaging for liver SBRT

Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) relies critically on image guidance for accurate tumor visualization and patient positioning to deliver high radiation doses to tumor while sparing normal organs at risk. Tumor visualization with cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) is inherently poor in liver SBRT patients. Gadolinium (Gd) based contrast agents can remain in liver for 1-2 hours providing tumor contrast due to its high atomic number. Previous studies demonstrated that CBCT imaging for contrast enhancement is feasible but only at high concentrations of Gd. However, high Gd concentrations is prohibitive due to potential toxicity thus its maximum safe concentration level is regulated by Health Canada. However, tumor contrast enhancement with low Gd concentration may be achieved by dual-energy technique. This technique uses two separate CBCT images at high and low energies and applies material decomposition algorithm to obtain images of a specific tissue type. The objective of this research project is to implement CBCT dual-energy decomposition technique to create Gd-only images. This is an exciting MSc level project that involves establishing baseline image quality and determining optimal imaging parameters using clinical CT and CBCT equipment in the contest of liver SBRT.

Contact:

Dr. Mike Sattarivand
Assistant Professor, Radiation Oncology
mike.sattarivand@nshealth.ca

A New Approach to MR Neuroimaging in Emergency Medicine

As part of a research partnership with Synpative Medical, Dr. Beyea has recently obtain more than $2M in funding to pursue research evaluating the use of a novel MRI design for use in emergency/acute care settings.  Graduate students will have the opportunity to participate in “first in patients” research in an emerging area of diagnostic imaging.  Research project opportunities will span the development of novel MR screening protocols to the evaluation of the diagnostic value of this technology in an emergency neuroimaging context.

Contact:

Dr. Steven Beyea
Professor, Diagnostic Radiology
steven.beyea@dal.ca

MRI Lipid Profiling in Fatty Liver Disease

Through a multi-year partnership with GE Healthcare we are seeking to develop a novel spectroscopic MR image acquisition and analysis approach to imaging the fatty acid profile in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.  Dr. Steven Beyea is seeking to recruit graduate students interested in data acquisition and analysis project aimed at studying this disease, being done with co-investigators clinician-scientist Dr. Sharon Clarke and imaging physicist Dr. James Rioux.  

Contact:

Dr. Steven Beyea
Professor, Diagnostic Radiology
steven.beyea@dal.ca

Applying Artificial Intelligence to Characterizing Functional Neuroimaging Data Quality

In collaboration with AI data scientist Dr. Alex Guida of the Biomedical Translational Imaging Centre, Dr. Steven Beyea is seeking to recruit graduate students to a project involving the application of emerging methods for utilizing AI deep learning approaches to objectively classify functional neuroimaging data. Students with a solid background in programming and data analysis are especially encouraged to apply.

Contact:

Dr. Steven Beyea
Professor, Diagnostic Radiology
steven.beyea@dal.ca