Medical imaging

Medical imaging covers a broad range of techniques used to see the anatomy (structure) or physiology (function) of the human body and animal models of disease.

One of the greatest breakthroughs in medical imaging in the 20th century was the invention of tomographic imaging techniques that produce 3D ‘slices’ through the body.

These imaging techniques include computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET), each one employing various forms of electromagnetic radiation, including x-rays (CT), gamma rays (PET), radiofrequency waves (MRI), or in the case of ultrasound, high frequency sound waves.

There is an equally broad range of medical imaging applications encompassing every major health condition, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders and degenerative brain diseases. Medical imaging enables population screening for unsuspected disease, diagnosis or staging of new disease, treatment planning and assessment of response to therapy.

Locally, we work with Sydney Health Partners (NHMRC Advanced Health Research and Translation Centre), a collaboration between Sydney, Northern Sydney, Western Sydney Local Health Districts and the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (Westmead), to provide our researchers with access to more than 2.5 million people (approximately 10 percent of the Australian population) and the latest equipment.

Our researchers are best known for implementing novel strategies to reduce errors in mammographic screening, and developing advanced motion correction methods in medical imaging, awake animal imaging technology, and quantitative personalised radiation dosimetry for precision cancer treatments.

Meet our researchers

Steven Meikle

Professor Steven Meikle
Research leader, Professor of Medical Imaging Physics

When my grandfather was my age (55), he had the first signs of a degenerative brain disease. Within five years he was admitted to an aged care facility and died three years later. We still don't know what type of brain disease caused his rapid decline. At the time of his death in 1969, medical imaging was very crude. Since then, CT, MRI and my area of expertise, PET, were invented and, for the first time, clinicians were able to ‘see’ inside the brain.

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Using PET and a new generation of radiopharmaceuticals that target specificreceptors in the brain, we are now able to distinguish different forms of dementia.

In my research, I collaborate with chemists, neuroscientists and engineers in academia and industry to develop ever more sophisticated imaging methods that leverage advances in diagnostics and therapeutics. Our aim is not only to know the cause of disease in an individual, but also which drug is best to arrest their decline; this is what is known as precision medicine. These solutions were too late for my grandfather but I hope they will help many others in the future.

Mark McEntee

Associate Professor Mark McEntee

Seeing my own hand on an x-ray at eight years of age introduced me to the world of radiation and led me down a path of science and ultimately to imaging research. Personal and professional experiences have driven me to create and disseminate evidence-based approaches to imaging, always remembering that the patient is at the centre of it all.

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I am driven by the achievement of translating scientific discoveries from the lab to the classroom, to PhD research, through the profession and ultimately to an improved outcome for the patient.

I work to influence guidelines, policy and procedures from Europe to the Pacific. My significant breakthroughs include calculating actual glandular dose for women undertaking breast screening, driving radiographer reporting in Singapore, establishing certificate education for radiographers in Tonga, and creating community‑led breast screening for Aboriginal women in southwest Sydney.

Meet our research students

Mo’ayyad E Suleiman

Mo’ayyad E Suleiman

I have had a wide ranging and successful career, but my dream has always been to work in research and academia. When my brother started his PhD at the University of Sydney, his research on breast cancer piqued my interest. Investigating breast cancer from a physics perspective, I was surprised to learn that although mammography has served us well for the last few decades, a national measure of radiation dose for mammography did not exist.

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Medical imaging researchers at the University, including my PhD supervisor, Associate Professor Mark McEntee, and Professor Patrick Brennan, saw how my physics background could be applied to the topic and I joined the team. I am now in the final year of my PhD; my research has been published; I have established diagnostic reference levels for dose in mammography; and my interest has grown beyond the initial topic. I am excited to explore postdoctorate opportunities, all because of a great team that trust me and support my ideas.