Launch of the Master of Molecular Imaging

31 May 2010

Advancing imaging knowledge and technology

The University of Sydney's Faculty of Health Sciences in collaboration with the University of Queensland and the National University of Singapore, has launched a Master of Molecular Imaging course that will prepare future leaders in this evolving field.

The course is concerned with the use of advanced medical imaging techniques in life science research and the biotechnology sector. It is designed for those who wish to apply their scientific skills to challenging problems in biomedicine and health that require novel imaging solutions.

"It is the only course of its kind in Australia," explains Course Director, Professor Steve Meikle. "The course is taught in a style that extends the student's capacities for problem solving and independent critical analysis which will help them to become future leaders in this field."

The course was developed in response to the establishment of the Australian National Imaging Facility.

"Federal and State governments in partnership with Australian universities have invested in state of the art infrastructure for imaging research, and this infrastructure is dependent on a supply of talented scientists who will develop the imaging technologies of the future. We believe this course will deliver those leaders."

With this aim, a key feature of the program is the research pathway that provides for the most promising students to complete the Master of Molecular Imaging and a PhD degree in the same time as a traditional honours/PhD pathway.

"The course structure is based on a North American model of higher degree research training where the postgraduate coursework is an integral component of the research training system."

Molecular imaging is a form of biomedical imaging, which is rapidly growing in importance in the applied life sciences. The key technologies for imaging molecular events in humans and animal models of human disease are positron emission tomography (PET), single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

These technologies are continually evolving as scientists and engineers develop new chemical imaging probes, instrumentation and computational algorithms and find new applications for imaging in the life sciences. The course explores these imaging modalities in depth and gives students the critical skills to adapt to emerging technologies and contribute to the knowledge base of the field.

Each of the collaborating universities brings a unique contribution to the course. The University of Sydney has established infrastructure and expertise in radiotracer based imaging (PET and SPECT) and has built collaborative research and education agreements with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) around radiochemistry. Professor David Townsend, from the National University of Singapore (NUS) is the inventor of PET-CT (a key molecular imaging technology) and is based at the Singapore Bioimaging Consortium. The University of Queensland's Centre for Magnetic Resonance has an international reputation for excellence in MRI which complements the consortium's expertise in PET-CT, SPECT and radiochemistry.

The course isn't limited to those already working in the field of medical imaging, in fact the opposite is true.

"The field of molecular imaging is highly inter-disciplinary in content, both in terms of the development of the technologies and their scientific applications. The course will reflect this, with students entering the program from a very broad range of disciplines and learning in a multi-disciplinary environment."

The Master of Molecular Imaging will be primarily delivered through the Sydney's Faculty of Health Sciences. Professor Gwynnyth Llewellyn, Dean of the Faculty said, "the course will meet the demands of the most promising students into the future and will attract the brightest candidates irrespective of their background. Graduates will drive advances in biomedical imaging technologies and be at the forefront of a rapidly changing health system."

The inaugural intake of this program will be Semester 1, 2011. More information is available on the Faculty of Health Sciences course website.