MMP Graduation Ceremony

Twenty-nine master’s students in medical physics have successfully completed two-year programme
MMP Graduation Ceremony
Giulia Foffano

ICTP and University of Trieste's joint Master of Advanced Studies in Medical Physics (MMP) programme trains young graduates in physics and related fields to the most advanced clinical techniques in medical physics. It welcomes students from all over the world, mostly from developing countries, helping them develop the skills they need to be recognised as professional medical physicists in their home countries. 

More than 140 students from over 70 countries have already graduated from the programme since its launch in 2014. The large majority of students arrived in Trieste from Africa and about one third of them are women. 

This year, 29 students from 24 different countries received their diploma, during a graduation ceremony held on 13 December at ICTP, in the presence of the programme’s coordinator at ICTP, Renato Padovani, and of the programme’s director, Renata Longo, of the University of Trieste. ICTP’s partner UN agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), also plays an important role in the programme and provides generous funding. “With a growing number of participants and so many countries represented, the ICTP’s Master in Medical Physics perfectly fulfils ICTP’s mission and this is only possible through the common efforts of ICTP, the University of Trieste, and IAEA,” said ICTP Director Atish Dabholkar in his welcome speech.

Angel Zaldaña from El Salvador is one of the students who graduated on Wednesday, and he explains: “Before joining the MMP, I obtained a Bachelor's degree in physics and worked at a radiotherapy centre for low-income families in San Salvador. This was a gratifying opportunity, but I lacked skills in medical physics. This master's degree has broadened my knowledge, specifically in the area of radiotherapy. I learnt how to do better quality control of the equipment and I have acquired better and more sophisticated techniques which will ultimately allow me to give better treatment to patients suffering from various types of cancer.”

One of the MMP’s unique features is that its second year is dedicated to clinical training in radiation oncology or diagnostic and nuclear medicine, providing students with the possibility to work side by side with other health care professionals and collaborate with experts from different scientific backgrounds. This is possible thanks to the agreements signed with 26 hospitals across Italy. 

The conviction that the clinical field practice they had during their second year was crucial for their training is shared by the students who graduated on Wednesday. Nyaradzo Juliana Murwira, from Zimbabwe, worked as an intern at Sant’Orsola Polyclinic, in Bologna, and she explains: “The most important aspect of my experience was working in a radiotherapy department with experienced medical physicists. This made me understand how to make critical decisions when necessary. I was also able to understand the entire treatment processes in external beam radiotherapy and brachytherapy, and I learnt how to perform the quality control test for all the radiotherapy equipment.”

Murwira, who is also an ICTP Diploma Programme alumna, shared her moving journey to becoming a trained medical physicist during the ceremony. The inspiration to work in radiation medicine came when she was still a child. “ICTP has made it possible for me to achieve the dream to become a medical physicist working with the linear accelerator, inspired by my grandmother who had breast cancer and was treated with surgery and radiotherapy using cobalt 60 (teletherapy) in 1983. She died in 2018 at the age of 96 without any trace or recurrence of the cancer,” she explained.

Professor Luciano Bertocchi, who gave the ceremony introductory speech and was among the founders of the MMP programme, said, “The purpose of this master’s programme is not only to train new generations of medical physicists, but also to create a network of professionals.” Since last year, the programme’s graduates can rely on an association of alumni that will ensure that the relationships that were born in Trieste will be longstanding and grow over the years. 

ICTP’s MMP is supported by the International Organisation for Medical Physics (IOMP), the European Federation of Organizations in Medical Physics (EFOMP) and the Italian Association of Medical Physics, in collaboration with Trieste’s hospital. It has also been accredited by the International Organisation for Medical Physics (IOMP). 

ICTP warmly congratulates all the MMP’s new graduates on accomplishing a major achievement for their careers, that will also impact the future of healthcare in their countries, and is already looking forward to welcoming the 23 new master’s students who will join the programme next year for the 2024/2025 cycle.  

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