Medical Physicists apply knowledge and scientific methodology of physics to all aspects of medicine, to conduct research, develop or improve theories and address problems related to diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of human disease.
Canada has historically played a very important role in the applications of physics to medicine, for example, with the invention of the Co-60 teletherapy unit by Harold Johns in 1951, a development that revolutionized radiation therapy of cancer, or the tomotherapy technology by the Canadian T. Rock Mackie, to name just two.
One could say that the ‘Medical Physicist archetype’ is one of a translational scientist avant-la-lettre, that is, someone who has a very strong footing in basic sciences, but also someone who has first-hand experience about clinical boundaries. Developments in medicine are of increasingly complex nature and the training programs of the future must place more emphasis on the development of rigourous scientific skills and a broader knowledge of the graduates in allied basic fields (physics, biology) so new developments can be more easily imported and translated into clinical benefits. Technology has been central to the field of Medical Physics since the beginning, so graduates must know about how ideas are protected and translated into novel devices that can be manufactured and applied clinically, to improve diagnosis and treatment. The Medical Physics Research Training Network is built on the existence of two strong graduate programs, one at McGill and one at Université Laval linked with an array of partners from academia, industry and government. The network aims to enrich research training at all levels of graduate education by ensuring that students have access to the best technology or expertise, regardless of whether this exists at universities, in industry or in government organizations. We will work towards ensuring that these new training opportunities of the next-generation medical physics innovators will lead to a sustainable program that will continue to stimulate research, development and translation of new ideas into clinical benefits to patients. Let us take this opportunity to thank the Government of Canada and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council for their support of our initiative. We are also indebted to McGill University, the McGill University Health Centre and its Research Institute, Université Laval and its Centre de recherche and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for additional support. Our other partners in the network, the National Research Council, National Measurement Standards Portfolio, the Harvard Proton Centre, Varian, Elekta and Modus Medical have pledged important in-kind contributions to this initiative. Jan Seuntjens, MPRTN Director & Luc Beaulieu, MPRTN Co-director