Our research group is equipped with various facilities and pieces of equipment, and has access to multiple institutional resources:
The Beddar Laboratory is a 300 sq. ft. space located within 165 ft. of clinical linear accelerators and brachytherapy treatment units at the Ambulatory Clinical Building (ACB) building on the main campus of MD Anderson Cancer Center, enabling easy transport and access to the clinical environment. Other laboratory space, near Dr. Beddar’s office, is also available for light measurement experiments. This space is next to a research-grade Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) Cobalt-60 Theratron machine for irradiation experiments. Additional laboratory space at The Proton Therapy Center at MD Anderson Cancer is available for Beddar Laboratory projects.
Light measurement equipment
Most of the Beddar Laboratory research projects involve the measurement of scintillation light. The laboratory group owns a growing number of photodetectors, particularly deeply-cooled charge-coupled device (CCD) and electron-multiplying CCD (EMCCD) cameras, complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) cameras, as well as spectrometers. The Beddar Laboratory has an assortment of optical equipment and materials from Thorlabs Instruments and Edmund Optics, research-grade optical benches to conduct experiments, an assortment of photomultiplier tubes, photodiodes, optical couplers, lenses, filters, translation stages, camera objectives, and other electronic equipment needed for basic signal processing and light measurements. The group also has high-precision luminance sources and calibration lamps, as well as multiple fiber dosimeters developed in-house. All the required equipment to build additional detectors is also available. Other laboratory instrumentation includes a complement of electronic components, dual tracking power supplies, digital voltmeters, oscilloscope, wave-form generators, and soldering stations. Other basic equipment is available within the institution’s machine shops.
Computing Physics resources
The Radiation Physics department maintains a significant network of dedicated computing resources, and a development team to support clinical and research needs. Departmental resources include a network accessible, multi-processor server dedicated to the development of photon and proton dose calculation, a 200 CPU Linux computer cluster for Monte Carlo calculations, and parallel processing and optimization applications. In addition, Radiation Physics faculty including an 8000 CPU, 64-bit computing cluster that supports Monte Carlo N-Particle extended (MCNPX) and Geant4 Monte Carlo applications, as well as ROOT, MATLAB, OpenGL, and LabView development environments.
All laboratory personnel are located in adjacent offices, facilitating easy interactions, synergism, and a collaborative research environment. Office computers are equipped with data processing and publication software. As the Department of Radiation Physics is within the Division of Radiation Oncology, administrative support is provided by not only the department but also the division. The division provides graphics, technical writing and editing of grant proposals as well as manuscripts, seed funding, budget development, support of industry alliances, etc. The institution also provides administrative support and printing services, and it maintains a scientific publications department to assist with manuscript preparation.
Treatment Delivery Equipment
In addition to the Proton Therapy Center, there are approximately 20 linear accelerator units, seven on-board imaging and cone-beam CT systems, four pulsed dose rate remote afterloading systems and three high dose rate remote afterloading systems at the main campus. Two of the treatment rooms have CT-on-rails units.
The Radiation Oncology division has two Acuity simulators (each with cone beam CT capability), three Phillips AcQSim, two GE CT Simulators, and two GE PET-CT for clinical use. One of the CT Simulators has a large bore suitable for CT-scanning large patients. One of the CT simulators is a 16-slice high-speed device, which is also being used for respiratory correlated gated, breathhold and 4D imaging studies. The PET-CTs are also used for respiratory correlated imaging. Extensive MR and PET imaging capabilities are available in the Division of Diagnostic Imaging.
Radiation Physics Dosimetry Equipment
The Radiation Physics department in the Radiation Oncology division is well equipped for measuring photon, proton, and electron absorbed dose with ion chambers, diodes, films, and thermoluminescent dosimeters (TLDs). The equipment includes several Wellhöffer 3D computerized water phantoms, two Scanditronix 2D computerized water phantoms, and film dosimetry systems including a Vidar film scanner and multiple Lumisys film scanners and film scanning software, an assortment of ion chambers and diodes, water equivalent plastic phantoms, anthropomorphic phantoms, and a TLD reader.