Joshua Freedman is a third-year PhD student in the Division of Radiotherapy and Imaging. His research is helping to develop the MR Linac, a revolutionary new type of radiotherapy machine which is currently being tested for the first time on patients.
What is your educational/work background?
Before joining the ICR I completed an undergraduate masters level degree in Theoretical Physics from the University of Birmingham.
Why did you want to study at the ICR?
During my undergraduate degree I completed a summer internship with Professor Jeff Bamber’s Ultrasound team where I developed an interest in Medical Physics and was introduced to the MR Linac project.
Talk us through your typical day
In a typical day I often plan and perform experiments using the diagnostic MRI scanner or the hybrid MR-linac radiotherapy systems.
I also write image reconstruction and processing software to analyse the data resulting from such experiments.
What big projects are you working on?
My PhD work is focused around the MR Linac which potentially could precisely locate tumours, tailor the shape of X-ray beams in real-time, and accurately deliver doses of radiation even to tumours that are moving, for example as a patient breathes.
I am currently devising methods to generate four-dimensional (volumetric + time) images which could be used to optimise MR-linac treatment delivery by better accounting for respiratory motion.
In a 2018 blog post, Joshua described his research to help develop new approaches to support treatment planning and guidance on the MR Linac, a revolutionary new type of radiotherapy machine which is currently being applied for the first time in the UK on patients.
What are you most proud of?
In my first year our team devised the motion vector field projection method which employs the motion information from T1-weighted 4D images to generate high-quality T2-weighted 4D images – better enabling certain types of tumours to be visualised during respiration.
How do you take part in life at the ICR outside your studies?
Outside of my studies I take part in many outreach activities. Most recently I participated in the Big Bang Science fair in Sutton, where I worked on an ICR stall to demonstrate the use of virtual reality in drug discovery.
I have also co-organised a student conference – the Postgraduate Symposium of the British Chapter of ISMRM 2018.
Who do you collaborate with at the ICR and elsewhere?
We collaborate a great deal with the MRI department at our partner hospital The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, who help us to acquire both patient and volunteer scans, which we use to develop our image reconstruction and processing software.
We also work alongside radiation oncologists from The Royal Marsden radiotherapy department who assist us in performing tasks such as radiotherapy treatment planning.
What opportunities has studying at the ICR given you?
Directly through my supervisory team, I have managed to organise an internship with Elekta – the company that developed the MR-linac - which will help me to gain industry experience.
What’s your favourite part of life at the ICR?
My favourite part of studying at the ICR has been working with a brilliant, friendly and supportive team.
What do you do to wind down?
In my free time I enjoy running, hiking, travelling and playing the piano.