Medical and Biomedical Physics Applications

Experimental applied physics research for physics graduate students includes two areas. In the medical area, radioactive tracers (radiotracers) are introduced into the human body. With Positron Emission Tomography (PET), we produce short half-life radiotracers from a medical cyclotron and synthesize positron-emitting radiopharmaceuticals. In Nuclear Medicine, we use gamma-emitting radiotracers for single-photon emission tomography (SPECT). A graduate course in Medical Physics is offered. In the biomedical area, we develop biomedical applications of ionized gas, i.e., plasma, and we treat bacteria using short-lived radicals generated in plasma.

Image gallery

PET scanner

The University of Iowa has the largest teaching hospital in the U.S., which offers extensive resources for student research. Students receive a PhD in Physics. Medical-related research carried out in labs at the teaching hospital includes: developing new methods and technologies to improve medical imaging, developing new radioactivity detection devices for clinical use, and synthesizing novel radioactive tracer. Biomedical research with atmospheric-pressure plasma is carried out in collaboration with the University of Iowa's College of Dentistry. Students receiving a PhD in these areas have excellent job prospects in medical equipment manufacturers or academia.

 

John A. Goree

Experimental plasma physics; statistical physics; soft condensed matter physics.

  • Dusty plasma, strongly-coupled plasma, optical diagnostics of plasmas, waves
  • Physics problems are interdisciplinary, combining condensed matter, statistical physics, and plasma physics; experiments involve direct comparisons to theory
  • Experiments are performed in our labs. Data from experiments on the International Space Station (ISS) are also analyzed
  • Two labs with plasma chambers and optical diagnostics
  • Students also interact with group members including a research scientist; other faculty and research scientists; collaborators in other countries
  • Students develop skills including design, construction, and operation of: vacuum, electronic, optical, and laser systems; programming in various languages; image analysis
Richard Hichwa

Medical physics.

  • Hardware development for nuclear detection systems, real-time control of a cyclotron, and high-power nuclear targets
  • Image analysis schemes, and physiological modeling of normal and disease tissues
  • Professor of Radiology and Adjunct Professor of Physics, is eligible to advise physics theses
  • Students have opportunities to interact with a multidisciplinary group of scientists including radiochemists, engineers, physiologists, physicians and physicists
  • Students learn how to operate the cyclotron and PET imaging instruments and have complete access to the machine shop, electronics laboratory and an extensive array of computing resources
 John J. Sunderland

Medical physics.

  • Radiation Detector Development for Positron Emission Tomography Applications
  • Nuclear spectroscopy applications in medical physics
  • Image analysis algorithm development including physiological modeling of radiopharmaceutical kinetics in both human and animal models
  • Associate Professor of Radiology and Adjunct Professor of Physics, is eligible to advise physics theses
  • PET Facilities include a medical cyclotron, three hybrid PET/CT scanners, one research PET scanner
  • Students have opportunities to interact with a multidisciplinary group of scientists including radiochemists, engineers, physiologists, physicians and physicists
  • Students learn how to operate the cyclotron and PET imaging instruments and software for image processing and simulation
Adam Zieser

Medical proton imaging