Report on the
AAPM/IOMP International Scientific Exchange Program:
The 13th * AAPM/IOMP one-week Course/Workshop on Radiation Therapy Physics was held successfully on August 23-27, 2004 in Chengdu, China, after a delay of over one year due to SARS concerns. The one week course entitled Advances in Radiation Oncology Physics was organized by the International Scientific Exchange Program Subcommittee of the AAPM International Affairs Committee, and the Chinese Association of Radiation Physicists of the Chinese Society of Medical Physics (CSMP). The Workshop attracted over 250 participants from all over China. Most of them are radiation oncology physicists and radiation oncologists who have been in practice for several years.
The Workshop Organizing Committee was able to get funding to support the travel expenses of twelve faculty members from U.S. and Canada. The same number of faculty was supported by the North American Chinese Medical Physicists Association (NACMPA). In parallel with the Workshop, the NACMPA put together a commercial exhibit and a series of Instrumentation Sessions to provide hands-on experience for the participants. All together 33 Chinese and International firms participated in this effort, providing the opportunity for participants to directly interact with the vendors for the major emerging technologies covered in the Course.
A total of 24 lecture hours were presented in the five-day course in a large meeting room in the Chengdu Convention Center. The lectures were given in English with instantaneous interpretation via a wireless system provided by NACMPA. In addition to the lectures, blocks of time were reserved for small group sessions running in parallel on various topics of interest, where the language used was Chinese, or English followed by Chinese translation. There were 36 such small group sessions given with average participation of about 50 people. Topics covered in the lectures/sessions included basic QA, radiation safety, education, certification, recent advances and future research directions in radiation oncology and physics. In two of the afternoons, about 30 relatively younger physicists participated in the Dose Calibration Workshop and the Chamber Inter-comparison Workshop in the Huaxi Hospital of the Sichuan University Medical School. Dr. Faiz Khan and Mr. Thomas Slowey from U.S., and Dr. Jianrong Dai of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences conducted the hands-on workshops.
A collection of presentation material for all the lectures and topical sessions were printed in very high resolution formats for the PowerPoint slides to show the figures in great details. Each one of the participants was given this 215 page book at registration time. Feedback comments indicated that this effort reduced the language barrier and improved the educational impact of the course. All the PowerPoint and PDF files were put in a compact disc sent to each participant after the Workshop. In addition, MDS Nordion and TomoTherapy donated and shipped 250 copies of the textbook written by Jacob Van Dyk, “The Modern Technology of Radiation Oncology: A Compendium for Medical Physicists and Radiation Oncologists”. The first 250 institutions sending at least one participant were given a copy of the book.
The Organizing Committee used its website quite effectively during the planning and organizing stages. The website http://www.aapm.org/org/committees/ao keeps on display the program of the Workshop, the Chinese and English abstracts of all 24 lectures and 36 topical sessions, the list of faculty, the geographic distribution of participants, and other information. Please visit the China Workshop link to view the details. The hard work of the Chinese and U.S. workers made it possible to get over fifty abstracts translated in a very short time, and hundreds of megabytes of PowerPoint files downloaded and edited for the production of the printed Proceedings. The website allows for this kind of close cooperation regardless of the physical distance between the collaborators.
The Workshop would not have been possible without the generous support of the many industrial sponsors listed in the Workshop homepage. Among them are regular supporters of the AAPM/IOMP program which include Siemens, Varian, Elekta, NOMOS, CMS, MDS Nordion, and Sun Nuclear. Most of the other sponsors listed in the homepage either have supported past scientific exchange programs or indicated that they will be happy to sponsor future programs.
The participants were asked to enter a score of 1 to 10 on the Course Evaluation Form for each of the lectures and sessions attended. About half of the participants returned the forms. Average scores of 9 or higher were indicated for sessions 2H06, 3A01, TQ08, TD15, TQ16, TB21, TA26, TA27, TA29, TA30, TT31 and TS32 (see website for session codes). It is interesting to note that the higher scored sessions were either delivered in Chinese or given with good translation. This is consistent with the written comments collected, which indicated repeatedly that the language used and translation quality were very important and/or appreciated. However, by far the most popular themes of the comments were on the overall good quality of the course, the participants’ appreciation of the presentations of all faculty members, and the desire of more frequent future AAPM/IOMP courses.
On the other hand, the two most mentioned negative comments were on the quality of Chinese translation for certain sessions, and on the fact that there were sometimes four parallel sessions taking place in the main hall. The latter problem was the result of not being able to secure the reservation of nearby rooms with the Convention Center management. Another disappointment to all participants was the fact that the books by Jake Van Dyk were held by the Chengdu Custom for trivial reasons, and that the short office hours of this government agency delayed the delivery to site, making it necessary to ship the books to the participants after the Workshop. We hope to learn from this experience so that we can better prepare future scientific exchange events in China or elsewhere.
The Organizing Committee would like to express special appreciation to the many hard working individuals for their contributions to the success of the event. Special thanks are due for Prof. Yimin Hu, Prof. and Mrs. Dake Wu, Dr. Jianrong Dai, Mr. Ke Zhang, Dr. Sen Bo, Dr. Shaoyu Du, Mr. Zhiquan Tang, Dr. Reijie Yang, Dr. Jinyi Lang, Dr. Fangfang Yin, Dr. Jeff Ning Yue, and many others. The names of the U.S. and Chinese members of the Organizing Committee are listed in the webpages if you are interested in contacting them for additional information.
Report submitted by Raymond K. Wu, PhD, and Yimin Hu, Prof, Co-Chairman, Organizing Committee
* Pakistan (1992), Poland (1993), Iran (1994), Turkey (1995), Morocco (1996),
Russia (1997), Egypt (1998), Brazil (1999), Romania (1999), Thailand (2000), Bangladesh (2001), Saudi Arabia (2002)
Last update: March 1, 2005