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IAEA Workshop on Monte Carlo Method in Medical Physics Attracts Participants from Around the World

The ‘Gold Standard’ for Radiation Transport in Medicine

IAEA Workshop on Monte Carlo Method in Medical Physics Attracts Participants from Around the World On 17 – 28 October, medical physicists, scientists and engineers from around the world convened in Trieste Italy to participate in one of the largest IAEA workshops that’s ever been held. The workshop on “Monte Carlo Radiation Transport and Associated Data Needs for Medical Applications,” which was held at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), constituted a unique opportunity for participants to gain extensive and up-to-date training on the use and understanding of cutting edge techniques for medical physics applications. Lecturers were top scientists in medical physics and the main developers of EGSnrc and BEAMnrc Monte Carlo codes.

The course was based on the EGSnrc system, a package developed by a National Research Council (NRC) of Canada for the coupled transport of electrons, photons and positrons. EGSnrc incorporates a variety of improvements in the implementation of the condensed history technique for the simulation of charged particle transport, and has been extensively tested for internal consistency against measured data. EGSnrc code receives more than 90% of citations on Monte Carlo in the leading medical physics journals. The BEAMnrc code was also covered allowing participants to learn how to model specific linear accelerators and other radiation sources employed in both diagnosis and radiotherapy.

The EGSnrc/BEAMnrc systems function on all types of operating systems, including Unix, Linux, Windows and, to some extent, on Mac OS X. The availability of general purpose Monte Carlo codes, combined with the ever-increasing computer speed and decreasing costs, have led to a boom in Monte Carlo studies in recent years. Monte Carlo techniques will dominate the field of radiation dosimetry and benchmark dose calculations in radiotherapy for many years to come. In addition, it will no longer be necessary to undergo extensive infrastructure development in order to acquire state of the art medical technology because computers are becoming more and more distributed in developing countries, where such radiation medicine technology is needed most.

A Unique Student Body for a Unique Courser

Because the EGSnrc/BEAMnrc Monte Carlo system is so highly renowned, the IAEA received over 110 applications, making it one of the most sought after IAEA workshops ever put together. The final list of attendees—approximately 55 in total—hailed from a wide variety of both developed and developing countries. Those coming from the developed world fully support themselves, while the IAEA fully or partially supported about 25 students. Such a diverse, yet highly qualified assortment of scientists and engineers is clearly driven by more than just the prestige of Monte Carlo training, seeing it also as a chance to be part of a community of experts dedicated to changing the face of radiation medicine worldwide.

For additional information on the IAEA Nuclear Data Section visit: http://www-nds.iaea.org

For additional information on the Monte Carlo workshop visit: http://www-nds.iaea.org/MC2011

Background information on the ICTP can be found at the ICTP Home Page: http://www.ictp.it

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