The Physics of Medicine initiative is a major new expansion of research activity in the University of Cambridge. It aims to create an environment where researchers can freely mix, discuss and share ideas at the interface of the physical sciences, technology, life sciences and clinical research. To this end a new building is being constructed in West Cambridge, adjacent to the Cavendish Laboratory with Phase 1 to be completed in summer 2008 and officially opened in December 2008. This building will create fertile territory for building a truly interdisciplinary team. A search is currently on to fill a new chair, the Herchel Smith Chair of Physics of Medicine, who when appointed will take up the role of Director of this initiative. Currently Professor Athene Donald is acting as the interim director. A search is also on for a complementary chair in Medical Physics in the Clinical School.
Management of the initiative is overseen by a Steering Committee consisting of the Head of the Department of Physics as chair, the Director and the Chairs of the four participating Schools within the University. These are the Schools of Physical Sciences, Biological Sciences, Clinical Medicine, and Technology. To ensure that all research programmes within the building are appropriately interdisciplinary, a Programme Management Committee will control occupancy of the building and the ongoing programme of work. This committee also consists of representatives from the four Schools and is chaired by Professor Simon Tavaré, who holds a joint appointment in DAMTP and Oncology. Some impression of the scope of the collaboration can be gained from the departments already involved in the Programme Management Committee.
An innovative training programme for 1st year PhD students has already begun with an initial cohort of 15 students, funded from a range of sources and coming from different departments around the university. This enterprise will be expanded in future years. The aim is to ensure that the students become fluent in the languages of the different communities, and profit from each other by sharing experimental and theoretical know-how.
When completed the new building will house a range of cutting-edge equipment, including a wide selection of modern imaging modalities and biophysical manipulation and measurement techniques, which will be available for the community to use. Hotel space will be made available for researchers working on short to medium-term projects using this equipment and the community will continue to build on existing research links throughout the University of Cambridge.
For more information, please visit the Physics of Medicine website.