Scholarship to help tackle widening skills gap in molecular imaging

15 August 2011

A new scholarship established in partnership between the Australian   Nuclear   Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and the University of Sydney will look to increase our capacity to investigate disease at the molecular level through advanced imaging technology and in doing so will address a growing skills gap.

The scholarship covers the full tuition fees for the Master of Molecular Imaging course which will accept its first intake in 2012.  An Australian first, the course looks to develop specialist skills and knowledge for those who wish to apply their scientific skills to the development of new radiopharmaceuticals, imaging instrumentation and computational algorithms for imaging gene, protein and cell function in health and disease.

"The potential of this field is immense as it allows us to observe changes that occur in the cells of the body during normal development and the evolution of disease," says Steven Meikle, Professor of Medical Imaging Physics and Course Director of the Master of Molecular Imaging. "In the long term this could help to identify more effective diagnostics and treatments for diseases such as Alzheimer's, cancer and heart disease."

The full scholarship is sponsored by ANSTO and is the result of a joint commitment to develop graduates with this highly sought after skills set. Currently there are not enough people with a broad understanding of the available technology and approaches to molecular imaging to meet the demands of the sector. This is true at both the international and domestic level.
The skills gap has in part been caused by the rapid advancement and availability of the technology. Recently several cyclotrons which produce medical radioisotopes have been installed in Australia exacerbating the need for employees with the know how to develop downstream radiopharmaceutical products and imaging techniques for medical research and healthcare. People coming into the degree may have a wide range of learning backgrounds, including physics, chemistry, medical and health science, IT and engineering. The scholarship aims to attract people from these fields into molecular imaging.



ANSTO Distinguished Research Fellow, Professor Richard Banati, said the partnership with the University of Sydney also addresses the need for skilled researchers in this field in Australia.

"Molecular imaging has become a vital tool for biological, biophysical and medical research worldwide. The facilities at ANSTO including the research reactor, OPAL, offer fantastic opportunities and pathways for young researchers in Australia," he said.

"It opens doors to knowledge and experience that is transferable to many areas of research and a broad range of commercial applications and services."

The new Master of Molecular Imaging program—the first of its type in the southern hemisphere is led by Sydney University's Faculty of Health Sciences. The course will be collaboratively taught at the Brain and Mind Research Institute by leading researchers from the Universities of Sydney and Queensland, the National University of Singapore and ANSTO.

Applications for the Master of Molecular Imaging are now open. All applicants are considered for the full ANSTO scholarship which will be awarded to the highest qualifying applicant based on previous academic performance.


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View the Master of Molecular Imaging video