Medical physics

Duration: 1.1.2015 - 31.12.2021
Project type: ARRS Programme

Project leader: Robert Jeraj
Coworkers: Rok Dolenec, Gašper Razdevšek, Andrej Studen

Medical physics is an interdisciplinary research field aiming at development of novel applications of physical processes and techniques in various fields of medicine. Medical physics has and continues to have a profound impact on the practice of medicine by developing improved imaging and treatment technologies, and helping to advance our understanding of the complexity of the disease. Medical physics is intimately connected to medicine, which is experiencing a dramatic shift from acute to chronic disease. This shift has resulted in (1) diagnostic procedures that are becoming more extensive, (2) therapies that are becoming more personalized and (3) better understanding of incredible complexity of the disease. Addressing these challenges is leading to the New Medicine (“The 4 P’s of Medicine”): medicine that is more Predictive, Personalized, Preemptive, and Participatory.

The proposed Medical Physics Research Program (MPRP) is structured around three key challenges, which also represent the following programmatic pillars:

(1) MPRP-Imaging,

(2) MPRP-Therapy,

(3) MPRP-Modeling.

MPRP-Imaging will advance the science of quantitative imaging by developing novel technologies that will improve quantitative accuracy of molecular imaging (advanced PET detectors, advanced MRI pulse sequence and probe design, advanced kinetic modeling).

MPRP-Therapy will advance the science of personalized medicine by employing molecular imaging techniques to develop personalized approaches to diagnosis and treatment in oncology (personalized radiotherapy, personalized therapy of advanced cancers) and neurology (personalized management of neurocognitive brain disorders).

MPRP-Modeling will advance the science of physical modeling of complex biological systems by development of improved models of normal and diseased tissue (optical and thermal transport, tumor growth) and response to therapies.

We have assembled a unique interdisciplinary MPRP research team that includes members from the major Slovenian university (University of Ljubljana), the major research institute (Jozef Stefan Institute), the comprehensive cancer center (Institute of Oncology) and the main tertiary hospital (University Medical Center Ljubljana). As such the MPRP will provide unique multidisciplinary platform for:

(1) Translation of fundamental physics research into clinical practice,

(2) Translation of cutting edge medical technologies from academia to commercialization,

(3) Support to university-level education in Medical Physics in Slovenia.

It should be mentioned that medical physics has not had its own research program in Slovenia, in spite of its high propulsion and relevance for local economy and health care, and reflected in the popularity of the Medical Physics MSc training program. Indisputably a research program in medical physics is urgently needed to support such activities. The proposed MRPR program directly responds to this need.