Who is the Department of Medical Physics?ButtonMPHY


The University of the Free State (UFS) Department of Medical Physics, offers graduate training and education in medical physics and imaging. The department renders services to;

  • Diagnostic Radiology,
  • Nuclear Medicine and
  • Radiation Therapy at Universitas Hospital.

Medical Physics uses concepts and methods of physics to help diagnose and treat human disease.

The Role of Medical Physics

The mission of the Department of Medical Physics is to apply physics in medicine to improve the quality of health care provided to the community. Moreover the Department of Medical Physics plays an important role as catalyst with respect to the introduction of improved medical techniques derived from advances in the basic sciences.

History of Medical Physics

History illustrates numerous examples of the close relationship between physics and medicine. Gilbert (magnetism), Hooke (elasticity), Black (heat) and Young (light) are examples of physicians who contributed towards the description and interpretation of physical phenomena. Similarly, new developments in physics, such as the discovery of X-rays by Roentgen in 1895 and of radioactivity by Becquerel in 1896 had a profound impact on existing medical techniques. Over the last few decades, several Nobel prize winners in medicine have been physicists. The most famous is probably Crick, who received the Nobel prize for his much publicised work on the genetic code and, more recently, the South African born physicist Allan Cormack, who received the prize for his pioneering work on computed tomography.

Medicine and physics are scientific disciplines that cover such extensive fields that it's impossible for one person to be fully conversant with all aspects of both the physiological and physical fields. In addition, the knowledge explosion, as well as new technology and instrumentation, increasingly necessitate interdisciplinary co-operation between physicists and physicians. Sophisticated physical techniques are increasingly employed for the purpose of diagnosis and quantification of the extent of diseases, as well as for the treatment of such conditions. It is especially in these areas that medical physics makes a notable contribution.

Medical Physics in the Community

In the same way as one finds departments of Medical Physics in large hospitals in almost all developed countries, the Department of Medical Physics provides a service in the;

  • Universitas,
  • Pelonomi, and
  • National Hospital.

At these hospitals, physicists work in close co-operation with their medical colleagues on various clinical applications which have to do with the immediate diagnosis or treatment of the patient and on the other hand, with research aimed at achieving a better understanding of the nature and extent of a specific disease.

Medical physicists of the Department of Medical Physics devote most of their time to the medical applications of radiation, but the technological explosion, especially in the field of electronics, has caused us to become increasingly involved in other aspects of medicine. With the current technological progress, there will soon be almost no facet of medicine in which we are not partially involved.

The three most important departments in which we, as medical physicists work in are;

  • Radiotherapy,
  • Nuclear Medicine, and
  • Diagnostic Radiology.

In each of these divisions we play a threefold role, namely of service, research, and training.


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T: +27 51 401 3739
F: +27 86 579 5154

E: StudentAdminFHS@ufs.ac.za

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