Curriculum & Courses

Curriculum

The Medical Physics program includes faculty members who have primary appointments in fields such as radiobiology, physics, engineering, computer science, physiology, dentistry, genetics, and biochemistry. Students concentrate in research areas such as molecular biophysics, medical imaging, magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy, radiobiology, radiation therapy physics, and mathematical biophysics and computation. Students prepare for employment as hospital-based medical physicists through a program that includes coursework, laboratory work, and directed study to provide experience in areas such as purchase specification, acceptance testing, quality assurance, and radiation safety.

Coursework is tailored to the needs of the individual student to the maximum extent possible, especially for Doctoral candidates. A committee of three faculty members is appointed for each student by the Director of Graduate Studies. This committee is responsible for planning the student’s program of study in accordance with the rules of the Graduate School of the University of Minnesota, and for monitoring the student’s progress.

Courses

MPHY 5040, Introduction to Medical Physics, 3.0 cr - Eric Ehler

(This course does not satisfy the requirements for medical physics graduate students)

The practice of Medical Physics is discussed in this course. The course will provide a brief overview of the principles and practice of radiotherapy, nuclear medicine, and diagnostic radiology physics, as well as health physics and radiobiology. The goal of the course to introduce students to the field of medical and health physics. This course is intended for graduate students and upper level undergraduate students in science and engineering.

Text: None – Course handouts. Offered in the Spring.

MPHY 5138 - Research Seminar, 1.0 cr - Parham Alaei

This seminar introduces new medical physics graduate students to the research conducted by medical physics faculty. Offered in the Fall.

MPHY 5160 - Advanced Radiation Physics and Dosimetry, 3.0 cr - Eric Ehler

Radiologic physics is introduced in the broader scope of radiation dosimetry. Material presented in this course is relevant to radiotherapy physics, nuclear medicine, diagnostic radiology, health physics, and radiobiology. The course generally covers radiation interaction types, kinematics, and probability and their contribution to radiation dose. Radiation dose measurement detectors are taught including principles of operation, theory, and correction factors. This course provides the fundamental understanding of radiation principles that all other practical courses on radiation physics utilize. This course is intended for medical physics graduate students and upper level undergraduate students in physics and related fields.

Text: Introduction to Radiological Physics and Radiation Dosimetry, F.H. Attix. Offered in the Fall.

MPHY 5170 - Basic Radiological Physics, 3.0 cr - Yoichi Watanabe

This course is the first of three focused on radiation therapy physics. The topics covered are theoretical and experimental aspects of radiation therapy physics. Production of x-rays, clinical radiation generators, interactions of ionizing radiation with matter, methods of radiation dose measurement, and measurements of absorbed dose are some of the topics covered in the course. The concepts employed in radiation therapy dose calculations are also covered. This course is intended for medical physics graduate students and medical residents but is open to graduate and upper level undergraduate students in related fields.

Text: Khan’s The Physics of Radiation Therapy, 5th edition, F. M. Khan and J. P. Gibbons. Offered in the Fall.

MPHY 5171 - Medical and Health Physics of Imaging I, 3.0 cr - Ngoneh Jallow

This course provides basic physics knowledge of various medical imaging modalities. The imaging techniques, equipment, and practical clinical physics aspects of different modalities including general radiography, fluoroscopy, mammography, computed tomography, and ultrasound are discussed. Fundamental principles of medical image acquisition, processing and display, radiation dose to patients and staff, and safety concerns for each of the modalities are also covered. This course is intended for medical physics graduate students but is open to graduate and upper level undergraduate students in related fields.

Text: The Essential Physics of Medical Imaging, 3rd edition, J.T. Bushberg, J.A. Seibert, E.M. Leidholdt Jr., and J.M. Boone. Offered in the Fall.

MPHY 5172 - Radiation Biology, 3.0 cr - Jianling Yuan

(Offered even years only)

This course covers classic radiobiological concepts including mechanisms of DNA damage and repair, characteristics of cell survival curves, and radiation effect on somatic cells, germ cells, embryos and developing fetus. Lectures also include detailed discussion of principles governing clinical applications such as alpha/beta ratio, dose-response relationships, dose-fractionation, and alternative radiation modalities.  Finally, cancer biology and mechanisms of commonly used chemotherapeutic agents will be briefly touched upon. This course is intended for medical physics graduate students and medical residents.

Test: Radiobiology for the Radiologist, 8th edition, E. Hall, and A. J. Giaccia. Offered in the Fall.

MPHY 5173 - Medical and Health Physics of Radiation Therapy, 3.0 cr - Parham Alaei

This course is the second of three focused on radiation therapy physics. Among the topics covered are methods of determining dose distributions for radiation therapy treatment planning, patient data acquisition, and various factors affecting dose distribution in patient for photon and electron beams. Other topics covered include brachytherapy, radiation protection, and quality assurance in radiation oncology. This course is intended for medical physics graduate students and medical residents but is open to graduate and upper level undergraduate students in related fields.

Text: Khan’s The Physics of Radiation Therapy, 5th edition, F. M. Khan and J. P. Gibbons. Offered in the Spring.

MPHY 5174 - Medical and Health Physics of Imaging II, 3.0 cr - Sunil Valaparla

This course is the continuation of MPHY 5171. It discusses the procedures, instrumentation, and safety of nuclear medicine imaging and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). For nuclear medicine, the principles of radioisotopes used in nuclear medicine, radioactive decay, instrumentation for nuclear counting and imaging are discussed. The specific nuclear medicine equipment that are discussed include: gamma camera, single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), positron emission tomography (PET) and hybrid imaging (SPECT/CT and PET/CT). For MRI, the physics and technology are discussed with emphasis on techniques employed in medical imaging. The topics include scanner hardware, pulse sequences, image acquisition techniques, artifacts, and MR safety. This course is intended for medical physics graduate students but is open to graduate and upper level undergraduate students in related fields.

Text: The Essential Physics of Medical Imaging, 3rd edition, J.T. Bushberg, J.A. Seibert, E.M. Leidholdt Jr., and J.M. Boone

Physics in Nuclear Medicine, 4th edition by S.R. Cherry, J.A. Sorenson, and M.E. Phelps. Offered in the Spring. 

MPHY 5177 - Radiation Therapy Physics Lab: Radiation Physics Basics, 3.0 cr - Yoichi Watanabe

This course provides students hands-on experience with hardware and software used in radiation therapy clinic for physics measurements. After this laboratory class, the students are expected to have a deeper understanding of the topics covered by the didactic courses: MPHY 5160, 5170 and 5173.

Offered in the Spring.

MPHY 5178 - Introduction to Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 3.0 cr - Patrick Bolan

(Offered every other year, alternating with MPHY 8147)

This is a graduate/undergraduate senior level course that teaches the principles of nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as used in biomedical research and clinical radiology. Students will learn about nuclear spin, radiofrequency pulses, spatial encoding, digital signal acquisition and processing, image reconstruction, image contrast, and advanced pulse sequences. Several advanced topics in MR imaging research will also be covered (e.g., fMRI, diffusion imaging, MR spectroscopy). Several laboratory experiences will introduce the students to the operation of an MRI scanner and familiarize them with the system components. MATLAB will be used throughout the course for simulating MR physics, reconstructing image data, and simulation of MRI system control.

Text: Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Physical Principles and Sequence Design, 2nd edition), R.W. Brown, Y-C N. Cheng, E.M. Haacke, M.R. Thompson, and R. Venkatesan. Offered in the Fall.

MPHY 8147 - Advanced Physics of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), 3.0 cr - Gregory Metzger

(Offered every other year, alternating with MPHY 5178)

Advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy is a graduate/undergraduate senior level course that teaches advanced methods and applications of nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The course will be taught in structured blocks consisting of the following topics: Basic MR Physics, Parametric Mapping, RF pulse Design, Advanced Neuro Imaging, Advanced Reconstruction, Spectroscopy and Engineering and Safety.  Each topic will be taught by an expert in the field and provide students with guided reading, homework assignments and Matlab tools to use as building blocks for improving understanding and to assist in translating knowledge gained to the student’s own studies/research.

Offered in the Spring.

MPHY 8149 - Advanced Topics in Radiation Therapy, 2.0 cr - Parham Alaei

This course is the third in the series focused on radiation therapy physics. Special topics in radiation therapy physics such as IMRT, SBRT, SRS, IGRT, and proton therapy are covered in this course. This course is intended for medical physics graduate students and medical residents.

Text: Khan’s The Physics of Radiation Therapy, 5th edition, F. M. Khan and J. P. Gibbons and handouts. Offered in the Fall.

Fall or Spring

MPHY 8293 - Directed Study in Medical Physics (1 - 12 credits [max 12 credits]; fall, spring, summer, every year). Individualized study under faculty direction. 

MPHY 8294 - Directed Research in Medical Physics (1 - 12 credits [max 12 credits]; fall, spring, summer, every year). Individualized research under faculty direction. 

MPHY 8333 - FTE: Master's (1 credit); Prereq. Master's student, adviser and DGS consent; No grade, fall, spring, summer, every year) 

MPHY 8444 - FTE: Doctoral (1 credit; Prereq. Doctoral student, adviser and DGS consent; No grade, fall, spring, summer, every year)  

MPHY 8666 - Doctoral Pre-Thesis Credits (1 - 6 credits [max 12.0 credits]; Prereq. doctoral student who has not passed prelim oral; no required consent for 1st/2nd registrations, up to 12 combined credits; % for 3rd/4th registrations, up to 24 combined cr; No grade, fall, spring, summer, every year) 

MPHY 8888 - Thesis Credit: Doctoral (1 - 24 credits [max 100.0 cr]; Max 18 credits per semester or summer; 24 credit required; No grade, fall, spring, summer, every year) 

GRAD 999 - Graduate School Active Status (no credit; Prereq. grad student; No Grade, fall, spring, summer, every year)

Ethics Seminar - ABR/ACR/RSNA/AAPM/ASTRO/ARR/ARS Online Modules on Ethics and Professionalism

Other Required/Recommended Courses

Fall

PHSL 5061 - Principles of Physiology (4 credits) 

Fall/Spring/Summer

PHAR 5201 - Applied Medical Terminology (2 credits) (self-paced online course)

The American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) has published guidance criteria for what constitutes baseline topics for a practicing Medical Physicist under the aegis of Task Group 197. Accreditation of a graduate program for the purpose of allowing students to sit for professional boards include minimal compliance with these recommendations as listed below. The accrediting organization is the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Education Programs (CAMPEP).