UWA Medical Physics Blog

Tom Milan, One of Our High Achiever Graduates

In this page we are going to introduce one of our bright Medical Physics graduates, Mr. Tom Milan.
Tom started his MPhys (Medical Physics) at UWA in 2016. His research project was on “Evaluation of the Clinical Impact of the Linac MLC and Gantry Sag in VMAT” supervised by Dr. Pejman Rowshanfarzad from the Medical Physics Group at UWA, Mr. Garry Grogan from the Department of Radiation Oncology, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (SCGH), and Prof. Martin Ebert from the Department of Radiation Oncology, SCGH, WA, Perth.

Tom’s research outcome has been accepted for publication in the Medical Physics Journal.
Here are comments on his performance from his Supervisor and the Medical Physics Program Chair:
Pejman Rowshanfarzad said, “Tom was one of our sharpest postgraduate students. He proved to be hard working with a creative mind. I found Tom a highly organized, self-motivated, and active student with impressive expertise to give short but perfect answers to assignment and exam questions. Tom was awarded High Distinction in his Masters. His research outcome was highly satisfactory and was accepted for publication in Medical Physics journal.
Tom has excellent communication skills, is very polite and has a pleasant personality. It was a pleasure to be his supervisor, teacher and program coordinator.

And here are comments from his clinical supervisor and Director of Physics Research at SCGH, Prof. Martin Ebert: “ Tom took the seed of an idea and ran with it, using his own resourcefulness, with some practical assistance from our collaborating clinical staff at the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, to develop a new way to break down and reconstruct information used to plan patient treatments. Tom displayed exactly the sort of attention to detail and minimising uncertainties that is necessary in a medical physicist. He was also able to rapidly develop an understanding of concepts that were new to him and outside of the discipline in which he was used to learning. Supervising Tom was an easy task.

Tom Milan. UWA Medical Physics Graduate. Working @ SCGH (Click on the picture to enlarge)

Tom Milan. UWA Medical Physics Graduate. Working @ SCGH (Click on the picture to enlarge)

Tom Milan. UWA Medical Physics Graduate. Working @ SCGH (Click on the picture to enlarge)

 

Tom kindly accepted to answer a few questions about his experience in our Medical Physics Research Group.
Introduction and your current position and role:
I began my Masters of Medical Physics at UWA in 2016, completing it 3 semesters later. My thesis was entitled “Evaluation of the Clinical Impact of the Linac MLC and Gantry Sag in VMAT”, and involved a heavy amount of MATLAB, Monte Carlo dose calculation, and quantitative analysis of resulting dose distributions. Since October 2017 I’ve been working clinically at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, in close proximity to my Masters Project supervisors. I spend my time performing quality assurance of treatment machines and radiotherapy plans, commissioning new equipment, and improving/streamlining existing procedures. The experience so far has been fantastic, and it’s exciting to know this is only the beginning.

What did you enjoy most about UWA, and Medical Physics research group?
I always felt like I had a good level of support from my supervisors and the research group as a whole. It’s a fairly close-knit group of very motivated people, and hard work and mutual learning is definitely encouraged. Also, the focus on practical learning and exposure to several clinical environments is something you can’t find everywhere so I was very appreciative of the opportunities.

Can you give us your top three reasons to study Medical Physics?
1. An opportunity to make direct use of your problem-solving and research skills to improve Australian healthcare
2. The constantly changing field keeps you on your toes and ensures you’re always learning
3. UWA’s Medical Physics program is renowned across Australia

How do you feel you have made a difference in your field of research?
My first paper, based on my Masters research, has been accepted into an international journal and will hopefully be published in the near future. I’m hopeful others will benefit from the findings and potentially draw inspiration from the unconventional technique I employed.

What is your best advice to current students and Medical Physics applicants?
• Put consistent, regular hours into your research, don’t hold things off until later
• Treat your work with pride and care
• If you’re having trouble with a concept, try explaining it to a rubber duck (or better yet, discuss with a fellow human)

 

Abstract of Tom’s thesis:
Mechanical sag in the linear accelerator gantry and MLC carriage is a known source of error in radiotherapy, and has been investigated in multiple prior studies. To prevent this error from negatively impacting treatment, a commonly accepted tolerance value of 1 mm mechanical isocentre shift has been established for IMRT QA. However, this tolerance value has not been appropriately studied for VMAT treatments.
This study investigates the in uence of mechanical sag on the clinical performance of VMAT in the context of Varian and Elekta linear accelerators. Pre-existing sag data is implemented into DICOM-RT treatment planning les in the form of shifting isocentre coordinates. This approach, previously thought to be unachievable due to DICOM constraints, is tackled via development of a novel beam-splitting algorithm which discretely approximates non-static isocentre position.
Three treatment sites are investigated in parallel: head and neck, prostate, and prostate with surrounding lymph nodes. Monte Carlo simulated dose distributions are obtained for varying magnifi cations of the modelled sag, and resulting distributions are compared against multiple metrics, both physical and radiobiological. Results unanimously support the validity of the QA acceptance criterion under VMAT, however further analysis of other treatment sites is recommended.

Part of Tom’s work entitled “Evaluation of the Impact of the Linac MLC and Gantry Sag in volumetric modulated arc therapy” is published in the Medical Physics journal, and is available through this link.

 

 

We wish Tom all the best in his future career as a Medical Physicist.

 

 

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