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Physics and Biology in Medicine Graduate Program

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Course Requirements

The following specialties are offered:

Medical Imaging

Minimum course requirement of 60 hours. The courses for the medical imaging specialty include the six core courses and six required courses, as well as the medical imaging specialty courses selected by the student and the advisor.

Molecular Imaging

Minimum course requirement of 60 hours. The molecular imaging specialty includes the core and required courses with the department, graduate courses from physics, engineering, chemistry/biochemistry, pharmacology, and biomathematics, and research study and seminar courses.

Molecular and Cellular Oncology

Students must demonstrate competence in the subject matter covered in the core courses. Because of the breadth of radiation biology and experimental radiation oncology, it is not feasible to design a single curriculum for all students. Instead, additional coursework is recommended by faculty in accordance with specific needs.

Therapeutic Medical Physics

Students must demonstrate competence in the subject matter covered in the core courses. Additional coursework is recommended by faculty in accordance with the student's specific needs.


Required courses:

A total of six (6) core courses are required.

Common Core Course (Core 1) for all students. All students are required to pass the following four (4) Core Courses with a "B" grade or better.

  • PB MED 200A - Physics and Chemistry of Nuclear Medicine
    200A Physics and Chemistry of Nuclear Medicine (4 units)
    Prerequisite: Consent of Instructor

    Nuclear structure, statistics of radioactive decay, nuclear radiations and their interaction with matter, nuclear decay processes, nuclear reactions, and compartmental models. The physical and chemical properties of radioactive preparations used in nuclear medicine. Basic principles of nuclear medicine imaging, SPECT, and PET. (winter)

    Instructor: Magnus Dahlbom, Ph.D
  • PB MED 204 - Introductory Radiation Biology
    204 Introductory Radiation Biology (4 units)
    Prerequisite: none

    Effect of ionizing radiation on chemical and biological systems. (Winter)

    Instructor: Keisuke Iwamoto, Ph.D
  • PB MED 205 - Physics of Diagnostic Radiology
    205 Physics of Diagnostic Radiology (4 units)
    Prerequisite: none

    Production of x-rays, basic interactions between x-rays and matter, x-ray system components, physics principles of medical radiography, radiographic image quality, fluoroscopy, image intensifiers, special procedures, and x-ray protection. Laboratory experiments will illustrate the basic theory. (Fall)

    Instructor: Michael McNitt-Gray, Ph.D
  • PB MED 216 - Fundamentals of Dosimetry
    216 Fundamentals of Dosimetry (4 units)

    Lecture, three hours; laboratory, one hour. Review of fundamental interactions of radiation and matter and introduction to fundamentals of radiation dosimetry. Overview of dosimetry instrumentation as well as radiation sources. (Fall)

    Instructor: James Lamb, Ph.D

Common Core Course (Core 2): Two (2) of the following courses may fulfill the six-course core requirement.

  • PB MED 203 - Physic of Radiation Therapy
    203 Physics of Radiation Therapy (4 units)
    Prerequisite: 216

    Radiation quantities and units. Radiation dosimetry, clinical applications in treatment planning. Methods of measuring radiation quantities. The calibration of radiation therapy equipment. (Spring)

    Instructor: Nzhde Agazaryan, Ph.D.
  • PB MED 219 - Physics of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
    219 Principles and Applications of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (4 units)

    Lecture, three hours; laboratory, one hour. Basic principles of magnetic resonance (MR), imaging physics, and contrast mechanisms. Emphasis on hardware, Fourier transform imaging methods, structure of pulse sequences, various scanning parameters and reduction of artifacts. Introduction to MR spectroscopy, MR angiography, and fast imaging techniques. (winter)

    Instructor: Daniel Ennis, Ph.D
  • PB MED M248 - Introduction to Molecular Imaging
    M248 Introduction to Molecular Imaging (4 units)
    (Same as Biomedical Engineering M248 and Pharmacology M248.)

    Lecture, three hours; laboratory, one hour; outside study, seven hours. Exploration of role of biological imaging in modern biology and medicine, including imaging physics, instrumentation, image processing, and applications of imaging for a range of modalities. Practical experience provided through a series of imaging laboratories. Letter grading. (Spring)

    Instructors: Arion Hadjioannou, Ph.D
  • PB MED 223 - Radiation Biology Seminar
    223 Seminars in Radiation Biology (4 units)
    Prerequisite or co-requisite: course 204.

    Topics of current interest in radiation biology presented by faculty members, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students from various departments and other universities. Discussion of ongoing research, as well as relevant journal articles. Topics vary from term to term. One student oral presentation required. Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading. (Spring)

    Instructor: Nicholas Cacalano, Ph.D

Other required courses:

  • PB MED 217 - Statistics & Data Analysis in Biomedical Physics
    Physics and Biology in Medicine Statistics & Data Analysis (2 units)

    Mathematics 31A, 31B, 32A, 32B, 33A, 33B. Introduction to computer-based statistical concepts, data analysis, and experimental design within biomedical physics research. Standard statistical packages and various statistical computing algorithms on relevant data sets within the radiological sciences. (Fall)

    Instructor: James Sayre, Ph.D
  • PB MED 218 - Radiological Functional Anatomy
    218 Radiologic Functional Anatomy (4 units)

    Introduction to human anatomy as visualized through radiological and nuclear medicine imaging modalities such as X ray, CT, MRI, sonogram, PET, and SPECT. (Fall)

    Instructor: Allan MacKenzie-Graham, Ph.D.
  • PB MED 227 - Current and Future Role of Biomedical Physics in Human Disease
    227 Human Disease - Current and Future Role of Biomedical Physics (4 units)

    This course will describe the present and future roles of Biomedical Physics in the diagnosis and treatment of human disease, focusing on the interdisciplinary nature of this field. This will include exploration of two diseases in depth with detailed description of the roles of physics-based diagnostic imaging and therapeutic options for each disease. Description of current and future technologies, as well as techniques that exploit interaction between diagnosis and therapy. (Spring)

    Co-Instructors: Peng Hu, Ph.D
  • PB MED 260A - Seminar: Physics and Biology in Medicine - Fall (required of all 1st year students)
    260A Physics and Biology in Medicine Seminar (1 unit)

    Joint critical study by students and instructors in fields of knowledge pertaining to biomedical physics. Periodic contributions by visiting scientists. Discussion of research in progress. Student presentations required in spring term. May be repeated. Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading. (Fall)

    Instructor: Michael McNitt-Gray, Ph.D
  • PB MED 260B - Seminar: Physics and Biology in Medicine - Winter (required of all 1st year students)
    260B Physics and Biology in Medicine Seminar (1 unit)

    Joint critical study by students and instructors in fields of knowledge pertaining to biomedical physics. Periodic contributions by visiting scientists. Discussion of research in progress. Student presentations required in spring term. May be repeated. Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading. (Winter)

    Instructor: Michael McNitt-Gray, Ph.D
  • PB MED 260C - Seminar: Physics and Biology in Medicine - Spring (required of all 1st year students)
    260C Physics and Biology in Medicine Seminar (1 unit)

    Joint critical study by students and instructors in fields of knowledge pertaining to biomedical physics. Periodic contributions by visiting scientists. Discussion of research in progress. Student presentations required in spring term. May be repeated. Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading. (Spring)

    Instructor: Michael McNitt-Gray, Ph.D

Elective Courses:

  • PB MED 200B - Nuclear Medicine Instrumentation
    200B Nuclear Medicine Instrumentation (4 units)
    Prerequisite: 200A or equivalent

    Introduction to nuclear medicine instrumentation including well ionization chambers, probe and well scintillation detectors, scintillation cameras, and single photon and positron emission computed tomography. (spring)

    Instructor: Magnus Dahlbom, Ph.D
  • PB MED 207 - Monte Carlo Methods with Application for the Radiological Sciences
    207 Monte Carlo Methods with Applications for the Radiological Sciences (4 units)
    Prerequiaites: 216, 205, 200A, or consent of instructor

    Introduction to the Monte Carlo method with application to radiation transport of charged and uncharged particles. Specific applications in the radiological sciences. (Spring)

    Instructor: TBA
  • PB MED 210 - Computer Vision in Medical Imaging
    210 Computer Vision in Medical Imaging (4 units)
    Recommended Requisite: Math 155 (Mathematical Imaging) and Math 10A (Introduction to Programming)

    Study of image segmentation, feature extraction, object recognition, classification, and visualization with biomedical applications. Topics include region-growing, edge detection, mathematical morphology, clustering, neural networks, and volume rendering in lectures, case studies, and programming projects. (Fall)

    Instructor: Matt Brown, Ph.D
  • PB MED 219 - Principles and Applications of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
    219 Principles and Applications of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (4 units)

    Lecture, three hours; laboratory, one hour. Basic principles of magnetic resonance (MR), imaging physics, and contrast mechanisms. Emphasis on hardware, Fourier transform imaging methods, structure of pulse sequences, various scanning parameters and reduction of artifacts. Introduction to MR spectroscopy, MR angiography, and fast imaging techniques. (winter)

    Instructor: Daniel Ennis, Ph.D
  • PB MED 222 - Advances in Medical Magnetic Resonance: Clinical MR Spectroscopy & Fast MRI Techniques
    222 Advances in Medical Magnetic Resonance: Clinical MR Spectroscopy & Fast MRI Techniques (4 units)
    Prerequisites: course 219, Physics 8E.

    Lecture, three hours; laboratory, one hour. Basic principles of NMR spectroscopy, localized spectroscopic sequences on a whole body environment, single/multishot localization, water/fat suppression, chemical shift imaging sequences, processing with multidimensional Fourier transforms, gradient/spin-echo based echo-planar imaging, diffusion/perfusion imaging techniques. (Fall)

    Instructor: Albert Thomas, Ph.D
  • PB MED 229 - Advanced Topics in Magnetic Resonance Imaging
    229 Advanced Topics in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (4 units)
    Enforced Requisite: course M219.

    Lecture, four hours. Designed for students interested in pursuing research related to development or translation of new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique. Basic tools and understanding of recent MRI developments that have had high impact on field, involve novel pulse sequence design or image reconstructions, and enable imaging of anatomy or function in way that surpasses what is currently possible with any modality. Topics include in-depth sequence simulation, RF pulse design, rapid image acquisition, parallel imaging, compressed sensing, image reconstruction and processing, motion encoding and compensation, chemical-shift imaging and understanding, and understanding/avoiding artifacts. Programming exercises in Matlab to provide hands-on experience. Letter grading.

    Instructors: Kyung Sung, Ph.D | Holden Wu, Ph.D
  • PB MED M230 - Computed Tomography: Theory and Applications
    M230 Computed Tomography: Theory and Applications (4 units)

    (Same as Biomathematics M230.) Computed tomography is a three-dimensional imaging technique being widely used in radiology and is becoming an active research area in biomedicine. Basic principles of computed tomography (CT), various reconstruction algorithms, special characteristics of CT, physics in CT, and various biomedical applications. (Winter)

    Instructor: Henry Huang, Ph.D
  • PB MED 231 - Advanced Treatment Planning in Radiation Therapy
    231 Advanced Treatment Planning in Radiation Therapy (4 Units)
    Lecture, four hours. Enforced requisites: courses PB MED 203, 216.

    Designed to provide theoretical and practical understanding of treatment planning techniques utilized in radiation therapy. Topics include clinical treatment planning work flow, general planning principles and strategies, and specific considerations for various treatment delivery modalities and advanced treatment techniques. Detailed discussion on dose calculation algorithms and inversed planning and optimization. Clinical treatment planning demonstration using commercial treatment planning systems used to provide practical understanding of clinical applications and implementation. S/U or letter grading.

    Instructors: Minsong Cao, Ph.D | Ke Sheng, Ph.D
  • PB MED C233 - Principles, Practices, and Policies in Biotechnology
    C233 Principles, Practices, and Policies in Biotechnology

    (Formerly numbered M233.) (Same as Biological Chemistry CM233, Chemical Engineering CM233, Chemistry CM233, Microbiology CM233, Microbiology and Immunology CM233, and Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology CM233.)

    Lecture, three hours. Designed for graduate students. Life and physical sciences majors and students in the School of Law and Anderson Graduate School of Management may find course useful in career preparation. Presentation of technologies, regulatory practices, and policies required for product development and review of current opportunities for new technology development. Topics include fermentation processes; pilot and large-scale bioprocess technologies, scale up strategies, industrial recombinant DNA processes, hybridomas, protein engineering, peptide mimetics and rational drug design, medical and microscopic imaging, and intellectual property issues. Concurrently scheduled with course CM133. S/U or letter grading. (Winter)

    Instructor: C. Fred Fox, Ph.D
  • MIMG C234 - Ethics in Biomedical Physics Research
    C234 Ethics in Biomedical Physics Research (2 units)
    Formerly numbered CM234

    Seminar, two hours. Designed for graduate students and undergraduates who have credit for a life sciences or biomedical individual studies 199 course. Responsibilities and ethical conduct of investigators in research, data management, mentorship, grant applications, and publications. Responsibility to peers, sponsoring institutions and society. Conflicts of interest, disclosure, animal subject welfare, human subject protection, and areas in which investigational goals and certain societal values may conflict. Concurrently scheduled with course C134. Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading.

    Instructor: C. Fred Fox, Ph.D
  • PB MED M248 - Introduction to Molecular Imaging
    M248 Introduction to Molecular Imaging (4 units)
    (Same as Biomedical Engineering M248 and Pharmacology M248.)

    Lecture, three hours; laboratory, one hour; outside study, seven hours. Exploration of role of biological imaging in modern biology and medicine, including imaging physics, instrumentation, image processing, and applications of imaging for a range of modalities. Practical experience provided through a series of imaging laboratories. Letter grading. (Winter)

    Instructors: Arion Hadjioannou, Ph.D
  • PB MED 268 - Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry
    268 Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry (4 units)
    Lecture, four hours. Prerequisites: course PB MED M248

    Current concepts in radioactive pharmaceutical agents in clinical use, including promising investigational agents. Utilization of short-lived, cyclotron-produced isotopes in radiopharmaceuticals. Rational design of radiodiagnostic agents. (Fall)

    Instructor: Michael van Dam, Ph.D
  • PB MED 286 - Image Registration Techniques
    286 Image Registration Techniques (4 unites)
    Preparation: strong mathematical background.

    (Formerly numbered Biomedical Physics 286.) Lecture, four hours. Examination of state-of-art image registration methods that exist today. Mathematical descriptions of each different class of registration methods and two-dimensional/three-dimensional/four-dimensional implementation details. Programming of registration methods in Matlab/C/C++/CUDA/JAVA interfaces so students learn all registration methods currently investigated. Letter grading.

    Instructors: Anand Santhanam, Ph.D

Introductory Lab Rotation - Physics and Biology in Medicine:

  • PB MED 202A* - Applications of Medical Physics to Clinical Problems: Nuclear Medicine
    202A Application of Medical Physics to Clinical Problems: Nuclear Medicine (4 units)
    Prerequisite: 200B

    Requires completion of a Contract for Independent Study, Clinics, and Lab Rotations. Please see Ms. Im for course contract.

  • PB MED 202B* - Applications of Medical Physics to Clinical Problems: Mammography
    202B Applications of Medical Physics to Clinical Problems: Mammography (1 unit)
    Requisites: courses 200A, 205

    Clinic, one hour. Focuses on the technical aspects of producing quality mammographic images and discusses strategies for reducing artifacts and lowering patient dose. Specialty systems and regulatory aspects related to mammography systems will also be reviewed. S/U grading.

  • PB MED 202C* - Applications of Medical Physics to Clinical Problems: Radiation Therapy
    202C Applications of Medical Physics to Clinical Problems: Radiation Therapy (4 units)
    Prerequisites: 203, 204, 208B, 221

    Requires completion of a Contract for Independent Study, Clinics, and Lab Rotations. Please see Ms. Im for course contract.

  • PB MED 220A* - Physics and Biology in Medicine Introductory Lab Rotation: Biophysics
    220A Physics and Biology in Medicine Introductory Lab Rotation: Molecular Imaging (2 units)

    Laboratory projects to provide students with introduction to the field. One oral and one written presentation required. Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading.

    Requires completion of a Contract for Independent Study, Clinics, and Lab Rotations. Please see Ms. Im for course contract.

  • PB MED 220B* - Physics and Biology in Medicine Introductory Lab Rotation: Medical Imaging
    220B Physics and Biology in Medicine Introductory Lab Rotation: Medical Imaging (2 units)

    Laboratory projects to provide students with introduction to the field. One oral and one written presentation required. Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading.

    Requires completion of a Contract for Independent Study, Clinics, and Lab Rotations. Please see Ms. Im for course contract.

  • PB MED 220C* - Physics and Biology in Medicine Introductory Lab Rotation: Therapeutic Medical Physics
    220C Physics and Biology in Medicine Introductory Lab Rotation: Therapeutic Medical Physics (2 units)

    Laboratory projects to provide students with introduction to the field. One oral and one written presentation required. Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading.

    Requires completion of a Contract for Independent Study, Clinics, and Lab Rotations. Please see Ms. Im for course contract.

  • PB MED 220D* - Physics and Biology in Medicine Introductory Lab Rotation: Radiation Biology & Experimental Radiation
    220D Physics and Biology in Medicine Introductory Lab Rotation: Radiation Biology & Experimental Radiation Therapy (2 units)

    Laboratory projects to provide students with introduction to the field. One oral and one written presentation required. Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading.

    Requires completion of a Contract for Independent Study, Clinics, and Lab Rotations. Please see Ms. Im for course contract.


Independent Research Courses - Physics and Biology in Medicine:

  • PB MED 495* - Physics and Biology in Medicine Special Studies
    495 Physics and Biology in Medicine Special Studies (4 units)

    Seminar, two hours; laboratory, four hours. Teaching assistance in graduate laboratory courses under supervision of a faculty member. Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading .

    Requires completion of a Contract for Independent Study, Clinics, and Lab Rotations. Please see Ms. Im for course contract.

  • PB MED 596* - Physics and Biology in Medicine Research
    596 Physics and Biology in Medicine Research (4 to 12 units)

    Directed individual study or research. Only one 596 course may be applied toward M.S. degree requirements. May be repeated for credit.

    Requires completion of a Contract for Independent Study, Clinics, and Lab Rotations. Please see Ms. Im for course contract.

  • PB MED 597* - Preparation for Ph.D. Qualifying Examinations
    597 Preparation for Ph.D. Qualifying Examinations. (4 units)

    May not be applied toward M.S. degree requirements. May not be repeated. Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading .

    Requires completion of a Contract for Independent Study, Clinics, and Lab Rotations. Please see Ms. Im for course contract.

  • PB MED 598* - Research for and Preparation of M.S. Thesis
    598 Research for and Preparation of M.S. Thesis (4 to 12 units)

    Two 598 courses (or 598 and 596 combined) may be applied toward M.S. degree requirements. May be repeated. Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading .

    Requires completion of a Contract for Independent Study, Clinics, and Lab Rotations. Please see Ms. Im for course contract.

  • PB MED 599* - Research for Ph.D. Dissertation
    599 Research for Ph.D. Dissertation (4 to 12 units)

    Preparation: successful completion of screening examinations. Research for and preparation of Ph.D. dissertation. May be repeated. Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading.

    Requires completion of a Contract for Independent Study, Clinics, and Lab Rotations. Please see Ms. Im for course contract.

* Requires completion of a Contract for Independent Study, Clinics, and Lab Rotations. Please see Ms. Im for course contract.



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