Eureka Prize Nomination – Dr Tess Reynolds
Tess Reynolds has been named a top-3 finalist for the 2021 Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher. The Eureka Prizes are Australia’s most comprehensive national science awards, honouring excellence in research and innovation, leadership, science engagement, and school science. Tess was nominated by the University of Sydney for her work developing ACROBEAT (Adaptive CaRdiac cOne BEAm computed Tomography). ACROBEAT is a new technology that enables imaging and treatment hardware to beat in sync with the patient, delivering clearer, faster, and safer medical images. ACROBEAT has the potential to transform 3D image guidance and change the way we treat cancer and cardiovascular disease. The award winners will be announced on October 7th
Funding Success for Dr Doan (Trang) Nguyen
Congratulations to Dr Nguyen, who will use artificial intelligence to enhance radiotherapy effectiveness, thanks to $449,316 of support from Cancer Council NSW.
Harnessing the power of artificial intelligence, in this project Dr Doan Trang Nguyen and her team will implement “beam’s-eye-view” tracking technology during radiation treatment for prostate, liver and pancreas cancer patients. With beam’s-eye-view tracking, the cancer is tracked at all time during radiation therapy treatment, ensuring high accuracy and high precision treatment. For the patients, this means their cancer is hit and destroyed while their healthy tissue and organs are protected from damage.
Image X Researchers Awarded by AAPM
Congratulations to two of our researchers, who have been recognized for their innovations in physics in medicine. Emily Hewson and Dr Tess Reynolds have each been given top awards by the American Association for Physics in Medicine (AAPM), and as a result their research will be under the spotlight at the world’s largest medical physics conference this winter.
Dr Tess Reynolds has won the Jack Fowler Early-Career Investigator Competition for her work to improve the way we can image the spine during surgery. To cross-check the accuracy and success of certain spinal procedures, a 2D image of a small section of the spine is taken during surgery.
Tess has developed a way to take an image that covers up to 5x more of the length of the spine, in 3D, to supplement the standard 2D images. This novel imaging modality could drastically reduce the necessity for repeat procedures, which are commonly needed in spinal surgery. The work arose from an academic-industry partnership between the University of Sydney, Johns Hopkins University and Siemens Healthcare.
“The academic side of the collaboration with Johns Hopkins was formed during the height of the pandemic last year, so its really exciting to see how far this work has been able to come and to be recognised by the AAPM in such a short and strange period of time.”, says Tess.
PhD Candidate Emily Hewson received the Best in Physics award for her abstract titled Real-Time Dose-Optimized Multi-Target MLC Tracking for Locally Advanced Prostate Cancer. This work was funded by Cancer Council NSW. Emily’s world-unique software brings us closer towards treating multiple tumours simultaneously with radiation. This technology would improve Radiation Therapy for hundreds of thousands of patients with locally advanced prostate, lung or liver cancer.
Tess and Emily’s submissions were judged in the top 1% of all submissions, an outstanding achievement.
“Each year the Image X Institute has a strong presence at the conference, but to see two incredible young women receiving such high accolades early in their academic careers makes 2021 that much more exciting.” says Professor Paul Keall, Director of the ACRF Image X Institute.
ADAPT Trial – Early Results
Early results of the ADAPT clinical trial show that faster imaging with a lower dose + higher quality is possible, bringing improved care to future lung cancer patients. In this trial, Respiratory Motion Guided (RMG) 4DCBCT will be implemented for the first time on lung cancer patients. RMG-4DCBCT adapts the image acquisition as the patient’s breathing changes (i.e. if the patient breathes faster, imaging data is acquired faster). By adapting the acquisition to the dynamic patient we are able to acquire personalised images of a patients lungs for radiotherapy treatments.
Emily Hewson featured in Physics World
PhD Candidate Emily Hewson has been interviewed by new website Physics World about her recently published article assessing multileaf collimator tracking and gating of the radiation therapy beam during treatment.
“Our implementation of KIM to monitor tumour motion, combined with either gating or MLC tracking improves the availability of intrafraction motion adaption for all clinics with standard treatment machines,” says Hewson. “One of the major barriers to implementing real-time adaptive radiotherapy in many countries has been a lack of finances and resources. The adaptive methods we compared could potentially overcome these obstacles and bring intrafraction motion adaptation into standard clinical practice at any cancer treatment facility that treat patients using a modern linear accelerator.”
Dr Paul Liu featured on Phyics World
Paul Liu, has been featured on the prominent Physics news website for his work: MRI-Linac enables simultaneous MLC tracking of two moving targets
Paul has described the use of an MRI-Linac to simultaneously track the motion of two treatment targets. “There are many radiotherapy cases that involve simultaneous treatment of multiple targets,” he said, citing examples such as locally advanced prostate or lung tumours, and oligometastases.
Study identifies missing piece needed for lower-cost, high-quality MRI
David Waddington‘s paper “High-sensitivity in vivo contrast for ultra-low field magnetic resonance imaging using superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles” has been published in Science Advances. The research was completed during David’s Fulbright scholarship, in collaboration with friend of the institute, Zdenka Kuncic (University of Sydney) and Matt Rosen (Massachussetts General Hospital), amongst others. The paper has been featured in the university’s News and Opinion here, and Medical Xpress here.
$2.1M awarded by NHMRC.
Professor Paul Keall has been awarded a $2.1M investigator grant for the project Cancer Imaging and Targeted Radiation Therapy: From Discovery to Clinical Practice. This funding will allow us to advance real-time targeted radiotherapy by better imaging, targeting and adapting radiation therapy to moving tumours, and sparing surrounding healthy organs. It will also enable us to explore the delivery of personalised anatomically and physiologically targeted radiation therapy by tailoring treatments to individual patients.
Record Number of Early Career Fellowships to improve Cancer Radiation Therapy with MRI.
A trio of early career research fellows from the ACRF Image X Institute at the University of Sydney will begin cutting-edge research missions to improve cancer radiation therapy this year, thanks to support from Cancer Institute NSW and the NHMRC. Dr Brendan Whelan, Dr David Waddington and Dr Paul Liu will each be tackling unique challenges associated with the Australian MRI Linac, a powerful experimental cancer radiation therapy system based at Liverpool Hospital.
Read the press release here.
Learn about The Australian MRI Linac Program here.
18 December 2019
Remove the Mask receives $600,000 funding from Cancer Australia
The Morrison Government has today announced the awarding of $8.9 million for cancer research in Australia, through Cancer Australia’s Priority-driven Collaborative Cancer Research Scheme (PdCCRS).
Remove the Mask received $600,000 as part of the funding round, which will be used to develop a surface guidance technology for the treatment of head and neck cancers that will reduce anxiety and stress in radiotherapy patients, by Professor Paul Keall at the University of Sydney.
Prize winning PhD Candidates at MedPhys 2019
It is with great pride that we congratulate our higher degree students for their exceptional presentations at Medphys 2019, the annual event hosted by The Australasian College of Physical Scientists & Engineers in Medicine (ACPSEM) NSW Branch.
Natasha Morton was awarded Best Postgraduate PhD for Creating clearer images for clinical use: syncing patient breathing to CT imaging.
Nicholas Hindley was awarded Most Outstanding Presentation for Real-time direct diaphragm tracking during lung cancer radiotherapy.
Congratulations Nicholas Hindley – Fulbright Scholarship Awarded
Nick Hindley has received the prestigious Fulbright Foreign Student Program.
He will spend part of next year at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, in addition to visiting other sites where machine learning and image reconstruction are strong themes.
Respiration-guided imaging method could set a new benchmark for cancer imaging.
Researchers at the University of Sydney have used a cancer patient’s breathing signal to guide the acquisition of a pre-treatment CBCT scan, commonly used when planning radiotherapy for cancer patients. This milestone scan marks the beginning of the ADAPT clinical trial, which is expected to demonstrate a dramatic improvement in image quality whilst reducing imaging time and radiation dose by 75% for cancer patients.
In current cancer imaging, patients are imaged continuously as they breathe. The motion of the lungs during imaging results in blurring and streaks which degrade the clarity of the image. In the ADAPT Trial, the patient’s breathing signal is used to adapt and move the imaging machine and also to determine the optimum time in the breathing cycle to acquire the image, resulting in dramatically clearer and more accurate images, with a lower radiation dose delivered to the patient.
“Clearer images are integral to providing even more effective radiotherapy treatment. The better we can see the cancer, the more accurately we can treat it.” says A/Prof Ricky O’Brien, who is leading the trial at the University of Sydney in collaboration with Liverpool Hospital. The technology was the subject of an NHMRC grant and achievement award in 2011 which topped 3500 grant applications.
“The ADAPT Trial is the touchpoint where the core concept of the ACRF Image X Institute’s Patient Connected Imaging Program begins to have a real-world impact on the lives of cancer patients.” Connecting the patient’s physiological signals to the imaging system signifies a major step forward in cancer imaging technology, which can in turn result in a more personalised, effective treatment for each patient.”, says Professor Paul Keall, director of the ACRF Image X Institute at the University of Sydney
The ADAPT trial (full name Adaptive CT acquisition for personalised thoracic imaging: A Phase 1 Pilot Study on the Use of Respiratory Motion Guided 4DCBCT for Lung Cancer Radiotherapy) is the result of collaborations forged between ACRF Image X Institute, the Netherlands Cancer Institute and Liverpool Hospital.
Crowdfunding – Remove the Mask
We’re joining forces with cancer survivors to crowdfund a project which is set to revolutionise radiation therapy for people with head & neck cancer. If successful, we’ll be on the path to reducing the debilitating anxiety and fear experienced by hundreds of thousands of people every year who must wear a mask for their radiation therapy.
Through our work on other cancer sites including breast, prostate, liver and lung, we’ve already developed two of the technologies needed to be able to remove the mask. With your help, we can develop the final piece of the puzzle – surface mapping technology, which will monitor the position of the patient.
You can make a donation or keep up to date with the campaign here.
14 April 2019
Physics World – Feature Article
Our work to improve cardiac diagnostic imaging is in the spotlight, with a feature article on our recent ACROBEAT publication.
“Cardiac images reconstructed using the conventional protocol contained streak and blurring artefacts for all three ECG traces. In all ACROBEAT simulations, these artefacts almost completely disappeared.”
Read the full article here.