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Medical Physics

GSBS Medical Physics Program

Medical physics is a profession that combines principles of physics and engineering with those of biology and medicine to effect better diagnosis and treatment of human disease while ensuring the safety of the public, our patients and those caring for them.

The Medical Physics Graduate Program offers the Specialized Master of Science degree and the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees through the MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Houston Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Two UT components, UTHealth Houston and MD Anderson, jointly support the program, with the majority of faculty and students, as well as the program administration, working at MD Anderson.

The S.M.S. degree is a professional master's degree that prepares the student for clinical practice as a medical physicist. The Ph.D. degree is intended for the student who is preparing for a career that includes a strong research component. The two degree tracks have similar didactic curricula, but the S.M.S. research project is typically more clinically focused and shorter in duration than the research work for the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees.

Photo (Right): Functional MRI (fMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) tractography for presurgical evaluation of brain tumor resection (image courtesy of Anthony Liu, PhD)

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Medical Physics Program Resources

Robert J. Shalek Fellowship

In the period between 1950 and 1984, Robert J. Shalek, for whom this fellowship is named, worked at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. During that time the institution grew from small beginnings in temporary buildings to a leading cancer center with a large physical plant and over 6,000 employees.

During the same period medical physics, which had started in the United States around 1915, but had languished as a profession, took guidance from the well-developed British example and grew into a confident and respected profession. Dr. Shalek was shaped by and contributed to these events.

Following Drs. Leonard Grimmett and Warren Sinclair, both very experienced medical physicists from England, he served as head, or chairman, of the Physics Department from 1960 to 1984. Under his direction, the department became recognized as a major research and teaching center in medical physics.

Click here to learn more about Robert J. Shalek Fellowship

Medical Physics Information

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Rebecca M. Howell, PhD, Professor

Program Director
Department of Radiation Physics


A. Kyle Jones, PhD, Professor

Deputy Program Director
Department of Imaging Physics

Lawrence E. Court, PhD

Laurence Court, PhD, Associate Professor

Director of Program Admissions
Department of Radiation Physics

Richard Wendt III, PhD

Richard Wendt III, PhD, Professor

Program Director, 2013-2022
Department of Imaging Physics
MD Anderson Cancer Center
1515 Holcombe Blvd., Unit 1352
Houston, Texas 77030

Photo (Left): The IROC-Houston IMRT head & neck phantom about to be scanned in a CT simulator during the COVID-19 pandemic (photo courtesy of Sharbacha Edward)