Could Wisconsin be the center of a regional medical physics hub? The stage is already set.

Kathleen Gallagher, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Brian Pogue, PhD

Brian Pogue, PhD, UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health

The $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act President Biden signed into law in August authorizes $10 billion of federal funding over five years for 20 innovation hubs across the U.S. The trick for many regions will be how to focus their grant applications.

Autonomous controls, biomanufacturing, fusion energy, sustainability, water — there are dozens of big-think ideas with many different interpretations. But an obvious choice for the Great Lakes region is hiding in plain sight in Wisconsin: Medical imaging and related therapies.

Medical imaging isn’t a broad concept like the others, where it’s necessary to pull in tangential and disparate companies or build research efforts from the ground up to make them work. And focusing on it would be a big step toward building more critical mass in medical physics.

The Great Lakes region is already a center of excellence in imaging, radiation therapy, and electrophysiology, with globally competitive research, strong educational programs that train top people in the field, large anchor businesses and startups working on disruptive new technologies.

Imagine how more focus and funding would help us mine the many white-space opportunities in medical physics that will fascinate and beguile researchers and hopefully lead to scientific breakthroughs and innovative companies that transform and extend human life.

At the heart of Great Lakes medical physics research is the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Medical Physics. It was the first such department in the country and is the largest in terms of faculty members and graduate students, said Brian Pogue, department chair and a professor in the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health.

“We have close to 100 grad students working on medical imaging technologies,” Pogue said. “We have an army.”

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