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Medical Physics Success

New graduates join growing numbers of medical physicists trained at ICTP

14/12/2016 - Trieste

The students came to ICTP from all corners of the earth—Latin America, Eastern Europe, Northern Africa, the Middle East—two years ago, full of ambition as they embarked on a course of study leading to a master’s degree in medical physics.

On 13 December 2016, the 13 students achieved their goal, earning degrees in the joint ICTP-University of Trieste Masters in Medical Physics Program (MMP). They now have the knowledge and technical skills needed to forge safer, more efficient medical radiation treatment in the developing world.

The graduates have spent the last two years enrolled in the world’s only medical physics masters program devoted to scientists from developing countries. ICTP, with its decades of experience supporting sustainable science in less advantaged parts of the world, launched the degree program three years ago with academic backing from the University of Trieste. In addition, ICTP received invaluable, ongoing support from its UN partner, the International Atomic Energy Agency, whose experts actively participate as course lecturers and curriculum developers. The IAEA also provides fellowships to many of the students.

“The Joint Master in Medical Physics program was developed in response to demand from developing countries,” said ICTP Director Fernando Quevedo in remarks at the ceremony. “It represents a logical extension of the long history of medical physics training activities ICTP has organized with the IAEA, and is one of the most successful initiatives we have started in the past few years,” he stated.

University of Trieste Rector Maurizio Fermeglia highlighted the added benefit to developing countries of a highly trained force of medical physicists. “This field will be crucial in tackling growing problems associated with an aging population and environmental changes, issues that will disproportionately affect the developing world,” he explained.

At only three years old, the MMP program has already attracted international honors, reflecting the high regard with which the program is held. In June 2016, the American Cancer Society offered to provide two scholarships worth 60,000 Euro to help train students from Africa. The money supports an international initiative to assist Ethiopia in expanding the number of cancer centers in the country--bringing treatment closer to the population--and provide long-term training of cancer specialists.

Another recent MMP program achievement is its accreditation by the International Organization for Medical Physics (IOMP), the premier medical physics organization that fosters educational and professional development and promotes quality medical services for patients.

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