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NZPEM 2021 - event summary

ACPSEM's New Zealand Physics and Engineering in Medicine Conference (NZPEM) 2021 has come to an end for the year, and despite its virtual format this annual conference was still able to provide excellent keynote speakers, proffered papers and posters. Colleagues and sponsors from New Zealand were joined by international speakers to fill two days (4-5 May 2021) with a number of sessions throughout the conference.

Updates on the conference from the organising committee and New Zealand branch chair are below:

Day 1 - morning

The conference has started well with vendor presentations from Varian and NL-tech, a fascinating keynote presentation on the Physics and biology of FLASH radiation therapy, by Dr Magdalena Bazalova-Carter, from the University of Victoria BC, Canada. This was followed by a very topical presentation by Jackson Roberts from Christchurch about converting a linac to produce and measure FLASH doses here in NZ, and one by Annaleen Goedgebeur (previously based in NZ, but now calling in from Belgium) to talk about creating efficiencies for QA of a proton therapy system.

Currently Professor Steven Meikle is answering some questions from session chair Darin O'Keeffe, following Professor Meikle's very interesting keynote presentation on Total Body PET/CT and it's progress at the Australian National Imaging Facility. It's a great discussion!

Darin O'Keeffe has now just taken over to talk about "One safety culture to rule them all".

Day 1 - afternoon

We just finished the lunchtime quiz hosted by the Wellington based organising committee for NZPEM - where teams were split off into break out rooms to decide their answers on the theme of "Spice" - we are yet to see the results so I presume all the teams currently assume they have won.

Prior to this the morning session was completed by Allan Stewart, a Senior Physicist at Auckland has just shared his experiences conducting a radiation safety evaluation for a new 177 Lutetitium Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) program recently introduced in the hospital, followed by Andrew Blair from Christchurch Hospital sharing his experiences using the new Siemens ICONO system for fluroscopy - it seems that optimising for image quality and dose at the same time is not a trivial task.

We now head into the first afternoon session where parallel radiation oncology and medical imaging streams are running.

Day 2 - morning

Day two of NZPEM has started off really well, with a presentation by Elekta's David Jaffray on AQUA, followed by a really useful keynote talk from Rushil Patel, Lead SABR Physicist with the UK National Radiotherapy Trials Quality Assurance (RTTQA) Group sharing results from their audits.

Following this, the annual John Strong Memorial Lecture by Professor Dame Juliet Gerrard, the NZ Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor on the topic of "A Front Row Seat - Science Advice in Emergencies" was a fascinating and insightful look at her role and the practicalities of how science advice is used to inform public policy, especially in a fast changing environment.
In the second session we have just enjoyed a very exciting and thought provoking talk from Professor Todd Atwood from UC San Diego, on The Physics Direct Patient Care Initiative - presenting their clinical experience and trials from involving physicist in consulting with patients directly, with demonstrable benefits on reducing patient anxiety and improving their satisfaction with their treatments.

Now on to some more proffered papers...

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A big thank you to the NZPEM organising committee (Lynne Greig - Convenor, Matthias Dessein, Nick Lowther, Shauna Nic A Bhaird, Geoff Smith) and to the branch for hosting another successful and jam-packed conference. We look forward to welcoming you to next year's (hopefully in-person) NZPEM conference.

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