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Pratik Samant

PhD


Radiotherapy Physicist

  • Radiotherapy Physicist at Oxford University Hospitals NHS foundation Trust
  • Visitor status at the University of Oxford

Researcher in Radiotherapy Outcome Prediction and Thermoacoustic Imaging

Research Interests

I am a radiotherapy physicist at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust. In addition to my clinical duties, I try to stay active as a researcher.

I was formerly a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Oxford, Department of Oncology. Here I worked to develop machine learning tools in order to predict outcomes of radiation therapy. While I have transferred to a more clinical role, I maintain these research interests (and links to the University of Oxford) actively.

Radiotherapy is a highly successful frontline cancer treatment wherein high energy (MV) x-ray radiation is directed at tumours, in the hopes that this radiation dose kills the tumour cells. In this process however, healthy tissues are inevitably caught in the crossfire of radiation beams. Therefore, radiotherapy must seek to find a happy balance between maximizing the probability of tumour control while minimizing the probability of normal tissue complications. I am interested in the modelling and prediction of tumour control and normal tissue complication probability following radiation therapy, specifically using machine learning algorithms trained (and tested) on real clinical data.

I also have research interests in thermoacoustic imaging. Pulsed radiation beams can generate ultrasound that is proportional in amplitude to the energy deposited. This is the principle of the field of thermoacoustics, and I am actively seeking to find applications of this physical phenomenon. Specifically, I am interested in examining if thermoacoustics can help to track radiation beams during radiotherapy, in the hopes that radiation induced ultrasound can be used to enable image guidance. I am also interested in thermoacoustic imaging from a diagnostic imaging perspective, as well as its potential to enable image guidance of more exotic radiotherapy techniques (e.g. proton therapy), in which image guidance is particularly desired.

I completed my PhD in biomedical Engineering in December of 2019, where my research was in the development of novel biomedical imaging modalities using radiation induced ultrasound. I maintain a research interest in these imaging modalities as well.

Outreach

On top of my research and clinical duties, I also have a very active interest in science communication and outreach. To this end, I am a regular participant in the Skype a Scientist program and love to present my work to general audiences.  I can also give short presentations on request on other subjects, such as medical imaging, ultrasound, and thermoacoustics, typically to students in grade 9+. These are typically done via zoom/MS teams but occasionally have been in person. One such presentation (in which I try to summarize my PhD thesis in 3 minutes) is available below.

Three Minute Thesis

During my PhD, I was challenged to describe my thesis in 3 minutes to a general audience. The rules were simple, a single static slide, and a very strict 3 minute cutoff. This is the outcome of that work, and I think serves as a good introduction to the value of thermoacoustics in medical imaging.