Welcome Message from the Chief Physicist

Terry Wu, Ph.D., ABR,ABMPMost people do not realize that a team of physicists at Willis-Knighton Cancer Center are involved in treatment of cancer patients. Patients often ask who these medical physicists are and what their responsibility is for patient care. Medical physicists are professionals with either Master’s or PhD level training in medical physics. They provide clinical care by verifying that the radiation given to the patient is exactly what the physician has ordered. The radiation plan is delivered to a special piece of equipment called a phantom which simulates the human body. This allows the physicists to validate that the equipment is working as expected. The mission of the medical physicists is to provide the most advanced technologies in radiation therapy treatment through clinical care, education, and research.

Willis-Knighton currently employs five Ph.D. medical physicists, three dosimetrists, and two medical physics residents. The Medical Physics Division is organized into three main activities: clinical service, education, and research. The clinical activities include a variety of specific services such as treatment planning, imaging, patient setup localization, stereotactic, proton therapy, brachytherapy, radiation safety and quality assurance. All staff physicists participate in education and training. Often, visiting physicians, dosimetrists, and researchers come to our department to train on our innovative equipment and learn new techniques.

Our medical physics residency training program is one of the members of the first CAMPEP-accredited consortium model training program along with Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center (MBPCC) and the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC). We offer one medical physics residency position per year. Physics residents, in addition to obtaining an excellent hands-on experience with all clinical treatment modalities available, also provide a valuable service for our clinic and serve as potential candidates for future staffing.

Among our many therapy and imaging systems, the Willis-Knighton Radiation Oncology Department has several that are among the first of their kind to be installed in the world. For example, Willis-Knighton is home to the world’s first compact, pencil-beam scanning proton therapy system, the Proteus®ONE. We are known as a TomoTherapy Center of Excellence and have, historically, been nationally recognized as 1 of 5 scholarship training programs for brachytherapy by the American Brachytherapy Society.