In this page we are introducing one of our successful graduates Mr. Luke Slama.
Luke started his MPhys (Medical Physics) at UWA in 2016. His research project was on “A novel method to investigate the coincidence of beam collimation system and focal spot position in radiotherapy linear accelerators: A multi-centre study” supervised by Dr. Pejman Rowshanfarzad from the Medical Physics Group at UWA, Dr. Hans L. Riis from Radiofysisk Laboratorium, Odense University Hospital in Denmark, Prof. Martin Ebert from the Department of Radiation Oncology, SCGH, WA, Perth, and Mr. Michael Barnes from the Department of Radiation Oncology, Cavalry Mater Newcastle Hospital.
Luke’s research outcome was published in the European Journal of Medical Physics (Physica Medica). After graduation Luke started working at the Department of Radiation Oncology at SCGH as a Scientific Officer and helped with commissioning of two linacs.
Luke has recently been accepted as a radiation oncology medical physics registrar and started his 3-year clinical tanning through TEAP at SCGH.

Here are comments on Luke’s performance from his Supervisor and the Medical Physics Program Chair, Pejman Rowshanfarzad, “It was a pleasure to be Luke’s project supervisor, teacher and coordinator. He was one of our hard working and smart postgraduate students. His creativity and programming ability were impressive. Luke seemed to enjoy studying medical physics and his marks in course units were among the highest. Luke’s research outcome was highly satisfactory, and he managed to publish in a high rank international journal in the field of medical physics”.

And here are comments from his clinical supervisor and Director of Physics Research at SCGH, Prof. Martin Ebert: “Luke demonstrated very early in his Masters course that he had an amazing capacity to understand new concepts very quickly. In fact, by the time Luke finished his Masters, he was teaching me concepts that I had previously thought I knew well (I have never seen anyone explain linear accelerator beam steering and servo feedback processes so incredibly well!). During his Masters project, Luke got the opportunity to work with clinical physicists across Australia and internationally. It has been a pleasure to watch Luke progress into the clinical environment and commence what I am sure will be a rewarding career”.
Luke Slama, UWA Medical Physics
Luke Slama. UWA Medical Physics Graduate. Currently a ROMP Registrar @ SCGH (Click on the picture to enlarge)
We asked Luke to kindly answer a few questions about his experience as a Medical Physics postgraduate student. Here is how he explained his journey through masters in Medical Physics at UWA.

Introduction and your current position and role:
Hello! I’m Luke.
At the end of high school I knew I’d end up in a scientific field, but I had so many interests that I found myself often struggling to decide what to pursue. I finished a bachelor of science at UWA, majoring in both Electrical engineering and Physics. After deciding that engineering wasn’t for me, I went for Medical Physics as it sounded very interesting and different to the things I’ve done in the past, and the idea of applying physics to medicine intrigued me. I completed my Master’s in Medical Physics at UWA in mid-2017, and have to say that enrolling in the course was one of the best decisions I ever made. I’m currently working as a Medical Physics Registrar at Sir Charles Gairdner hospital.

What did you enjoy most about UWA, and Medical Physics research group?
UWA is an amazing place to study. The Medical Physics research group is a family of individuals that help each other improve themselves and their work. The medical physics course is well prepared and supervised by both Pejman and Martin, who go beyond the call of duty to help each individual student with not only their study, but with their career also. Even 2 years after I graduated, I’m still getting help from both Pejman and Martin for job applications, publications, conference attendance and any other advice I need. They employ a variety of researchers and clinical medical physicists who teach the course from experience, and have good communications with the teams at Sir Charles Gairdner hospital and Genesis, who were happy to show students practical application of the theory on site.

Can you give us your top three reasons to study Medical Physics?
1. Medical physics is a very rewarding career, with a high level of job satisfaction.
2. The field is constantly changing with new things being discovered every day, keeping things new and exciting in the workplace. As a medical physicist, you’ll be at the forefront of medical technology, helping to deliver the best possible treatments of cancer, or to increase the accuracy of diagnosing critical diseases. You’ll never stop learning, and will face new challenges every day.
3. You’ll be able to find a job almost anywhere in the world where diagnostic imaging is used or where cancer exists.

How do you feel you have made a difference in your field of research?
My research looked at measuring focal spot position of Linear accelerators at multiple gantry angles, and the intra-fraction motion of the focal spot as the beam is running. Traditionally, focal spot is only measured at gantry 0°, whereas patient treatments are performed over the full 360° range. And so having a better understanding of how the beam behaves throughout the entirety of patient treatment can help improve the quality of these treatments in the future. This work can also help medical physicists diagnose gantry dependant issues relating to the beam such as beam centre shifts and flatness and symmetry errors that occur at specific gantry angles. Measuring the intra-fraction motion has the potential to improve the beam steering system to reduce the instability in the beam that occurs on start-up, reducing delivery errors for small dose per beam treatments.
What is your best advice to current students and Medical Physics applicants?
Have fun, make connections, and take full advantage of all the resources both UWA and the medical physics research team has to offer. Learn as much as you can, publish your research, go to conferences and network with people outside of the group. Not only will this help get you employed, but if you plan on doing TEAP, this will make your life much, much easier.

  

Abstract of Luke’s thesis:
Introduction:
Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT) involves the treatment of cancer using highly accurate treatment machines. It is therefore of utmost importance to have an accurate description of the machine through quality assurance (QA) testing on a regular basis. The focal spot of the linac plays a pivotal role in determining the resulting dose  istribution within the patient, and hence probability of treatment success. The location of the focal point has been a difficult parameter to measure in the past, and is normally done through the analysis of asymmetry in transverse dose profiles, which is a time consuming process. The presented method has been proposed using a phantom of novel design to accurately measure both the position of the focal spot and radiation isocentre relative to the collimator’s axis of rotation (CAX), in the transverse plane to the main treatment beam. The method was also applicable to determine intrafraction movement of the focal spot.
Methods: The phantom is attached to the treatment head and a 12 or 13 point starshot is produced using an a-Si 1000 EPID panel digital detector (Perkin Elmer). The method is capable of obtaining data at any gantry angle in arc. Starshots were acquired 13 gantry angles, on 8 Elekta and 2 Varian linacs, for the 6MV, 18MV and 6MV FFF (if available) photon treatment modalities. The images were analysed using an in house software written using MATLAB (Mathworks Inc. MA, USA).
Results: The intrinsic error of the software, and the sensitivity to noise, was analysed on simulated starshots, and an approximate error of 10um was found at a SNR of 100. The maximum reproducibilities recorded were 74.37um, 77.32um and 144.63um for focal spot position of 6MV, 18MV and 6MV FFF photon beams respectively. Isocentre reproducibility was recorded at 147.89um, 178.69um and 230.02um for 6MV, 18MV and 6MV FFF photon beams respectively. Isocentre radius reproducibility was 88.82um, 102.84um and 129.74um for 6MV, 18MV and 6MV FFF photon beams respectively. The focal spot position was shown to be more unstable at the start of treatment, with a displacement of up to 120m from mean position, which stabilises after 3 seconds to within 10um.
Conclusion: The method proposed is a beneficial addition to the QA schedule of any clinic, allowing quick determination of source position, and the possibility of fine-tuning the electron beam steering system to improve the quality of the photon beam, and of SRS treatments.

Part of Luke’s work entitled “Beam focal spot intrafraction motion and gantry angle dependence: A study of Varian linac focal spot alignment” is published in Physica Medica, and is available through this link.

 

 

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

 

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