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Located within the Department of Radiology, the Division of Physics and Engineering is responsible for clinical activities, teaching, and research in diagnostic radiology, magnetic resonance imaging, and nuclear medicine.

The Division is staffed by 9 full-time faculty members; 2 medical physics residents; and over 8 support staff, including radiologic service engineers and quality control technologists.

The clinical activities within the Division fall into five categories. First, the Physics faculty play an active role in equipment acquisition, participating in such tasks as evaluation of bids, site planning, shielding design and testing, and project management for new installations and equipment upgrades. Second, faculty and fellows perform acceptance testing of all new equipment, as well as periodic performance assessment of all imaging equipment to ensure continuous optimum operating characteristics and regulatory compliance. Third, the Physics and Informatics faculty engage in high-level problem-solving covering all aspects of imaging equipment performance at University Hospital and The Kirklin Clinic.  Fourth, the individuals within the Quality Control Section perform routine quality control tasks on processing, hard copy image recording, and display equipment. Finally, the Service Engineering Section which consists of the in-house service organization is responsible for equipment maintenance and service.

Academic duties include teaching of medical physics to the radiology and nuclear medicine resident physicians. Courses are taught in diagnostic imaging, nuclear medicine, magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography (CT), ultrasound, digital imaging, informatics, and radiation biology. Also, comprehensive reviews of medical physics topics in preparation for the radiology board examinations are conducted yearly.

Other academic activities include a CAMPEP accredited two-year medical physics residency that is offered to individuals considering a professional career in medical physics. Residents participate in clinical support, teaching, and clinical imaging research as training for a career in Medical Physics.

The Division's members are also actively involved in research. Research topics cover a broad range of projects related to the understanding of fundamental aspects of imaging processes, including efforts to improve image quality and control radiation doses. Examples of projects completed over the years include studies of scatter reduction techniques, Monte Carlo simulations for calculating patient absorbed dose, optimization of magnetic resonance imaging pulse sequences, optimization of parameters determining mammographic image quality, and CT dose estimates. Current projects involve CT dosimetry as a function of patient size, improving the measurement accuracy of CT dosimetry, improving scatter control in mammography and bedside radiography, and studies of factors impacting the quality of digital images displayed on soft copy devices.



Loretta M. Johnson, Ph.D., DABR

Division Chief, Physics and Engineering
(205) 934-0072