U.S. Particle Accelerator School

Medical Applications of Accelerators course

Sponsoring University:

Cornell University


Medical Applications of Accelerators


Jacob Flanz, Massachusetts General Hospital

Purpose and Audience
This course bridges the gap between the principles of accelerator systems and the requirements of important medical applications. The course is useful for Accelerator Physicists and Engineers interested in learning about medical applications or Medical Physicists interested in learning about aspects of accelerator design. Some familiarity with basic particle acceleration fundamentals is useful. Cross-fertilization can lead to new ideas or new careers.

Useful but not necessary: basic knowledge of charged particle acceleration and matrix algebra.

This course identifies the requirements of some important medical diagnostics and treatments and analyzes these requirements in terms of the accelerator application. Find out how accelerators are used in the medical field, and conversely, find out what are the requirements and limitations of accelerator performance and how that affects the application. A flow down design approach is used. Basic principles (biology/physics/accelerators) give rise to specific requirements and tolerances that define the physical realization of equipment to produce the desired goals.

Instructional Method
Class lectures are used to derive basic principles, elucidate medical requirements and review useful tools for calculation. Computer labs allow hands-on practical experience in designing beam handling systems needed for medical applications. Practical problems with real world subtleties are assigned to help connect the parts.

Course Content
This course reviews the basic principles of particle acceleration methods and beam optics. In addition, this course reviews the basic principle of radiation biology. Specific topics include Synchrotrons, Cyclotrons, beam lines, multiple scattering, Xray and Particle diagnostics, hadron therapy and use of radioactive isotopes. Comparisons of different methods of achieving the ‘same’ goals are created with student involvement.

Reading Requirements
An extensive bibliography is provided with reprints of published papers and reports. Class lectures are provided during the course.

Credit Requirements
Students will be evaluated based on performance: final report (20 % of final grade), homework assignments ( 40% of final grade), computer/lab sessions ( 20% of final grade), and class participation (20% of final grade).