Jessica Hopson, who is currently in the first year of her PhD at the CDT in Smart Medical Imaging, writes about her experience at conferences early this year.

After starting my PhD at the beginning of October, it wasn’t long before I attended my first conferences: the Medical Imaging Conference (MIC) in Manchester, immediately followed by the Chester Synergistic Symposium. On my first day in Manchester, I participated in a short course led by Dr Georges El Fakhri of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)/ Harvard Medical School, which focused on ‘Hybrid nuclear medicine devices: instrumentation and application’. A range of topics were covered, starting from the underlying science, to discussing PET/MR image reconstruction methods for motion correction. Gaining another perspective on these challenges was thought-provoking, with the MGH putting a large emphasis on the clinical applications of different hybrid modalities.

At the main conference, there were a wide variety of sessions covering different aspects of medical imaging. As my work is centred on low-dose PET image reconstruction, I attended a session entitled ‘Tomographic Image Reconstruction Techniques’. This session provided me with an insight into the novel developments in the field, which I may be able to consider in my PhD. It also featured two talks centred on work carried out at King’s presented by Prof Andrew Reader and Dr Abolfazl Mehranian, respectively. Another King’s student, Casper Da Costa-Luis, also presented in another session. These were brilliant opportunities for the School of Biomedical Engineering and Imaging Sciences, King’s College London, to showcase the innovative research that they carry out. The conference featured talks from academia, industry and clinicians, highlighting the broad scope of medical imaging, whilst serving as a reminder of the reason why medical imaging research is so important for improving healthcare. As I am at the start of my research project, I did not submit a poster, but it was interesting to meet new people in my field and learn about their research in detail by speaking to them one-on-one. This allowed me to improve my knowledge of the field, providing me with ideas that I could use in my own work.

After the MIC, I travelled straight to the Chester Synergistic Symposium and subsequent Synergistic Image Reconstruction Framework (SIRF) training school. The symposium had many interesting talks about novel developments specifically in the field of image reconstruction, allowing for more in depth discussions, whilst still covering a wide range of topics, from using Machine Learning for image reconstruction to MR fingerprinting. The poster session held at this symposium was more relaxed; you could look at all the posters in the allocated time and have in depth discussions with the presenters. Outside of the symposium, we were treated to a highly fascinating walking tour around the historic city centre. Having been at the MIC immediately before, and starting the Chester Symposium at 8am on a Sunday morning, this was a nice break; we were also lucky that it was an unusually sunny day for Chester in November!

Following on from the symposium was a two-day training school on the SIRF software, run by Prof Kris Thielemans’ group at University College London. This introduced me to new ways of performing image reconstruction, whilst improving my Python coding ability, both of which will be highly beneficial to my PhD. The training school covered a broad range of topics, including MR, PET, CT and Synergistic reconstruction. At the end of the training school, there was opportunity to apply your new knowledge to your own reconstruction challenge.

Overall, these conferences provided me with an insight into how the field is progressing whilst allowing me to meet new people, and learn from their research.