Fulbright scholarship awarded to PhD student David Waddington

16 April 2013

PhD Student at the University of Sydney School of Physics ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems (EQUS) David Waddington, has been named the prestigious 2013 ANSTO Fulbright Scholar.

The scholarship will take Mr Waddinton to the Martinos Centre for Biomedical Imaging at Harvard University in Boston for 12 months. He will be working in the Low Field Imaging Laboratory and will be leaving at the end of the year.

PhD student David Waddington, awarded the 2013 ANSTO Fulbright scholarship
PhD student David Waddington, awarded the 2013 ANSTO Fulbright scholarship

The Fulbright scholarship is the most prestigious international exchange program in the world and has had more Nobel Prize winners as past Alumni than any other program. The 2013 ANSTO Scholarship is supported by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) as well as the Australian and U.S Governments.

"A nice thing about science is that it happens on an international stage. If you want to travel and work and see the world, become a scientist," said Mr Waddingtons Supervisor, Professor David Reilly.

Mr Waddinton, under Professor Reilly, will be working on the next generation MRI technology as part of his PhD Thesis. This project was initiated by Professor Reilly through his international collaborations.

"The context for David's Scholarship is a partnership and collaboration that our group, has with the Martinos Centre at Harvard. It's a great place that brings together world experts from Harvard, MIT, and one of the largest hospitals in the world, Massachusetts General. This team is developing cutting edge medical imaging technology that will have a major impact in fighting diseases such as Alzheimer's and cancer," said Professor Reilly.

"David's scholarship will strengthen our research collaboration, something I think is important for the University of Sydney. Strong connections and membership of international teams that include the world's top institutions," said Professor Reilly.

"The project involves investigating the potential medical applications of quantum nano-science. What I am aiming to do is to develop an entirely new bio-probe based on the detection and tracking of non-toxic nano-particles in biological environments," said Mr Waddington.

At present, clinical MRI is based on imaging Hydrogen nuclei, or spins, making it difficult to image regions of body where water concentration is low.

"The next generation MRI's will image spins other than Hydrogen, like Carbon or Nitrogen." Mr Waddinton continues, "The process that allows us to do this is called hyperpolarisation, using electron spins interacting with nuclear spins."

Other imaging techniques such as Positron Emission Tomography (PET) are good, but the resolution is low and it uses ionising radiation, where MRI's are much less evasive. To be able to use MRI's to track complex molecules would be a great achievement.

Mr Waddington says that the imaging technology makes use of nano-diamonds. Binding these nano-diamonds to a certain drug for example, would enable us to get a picture of where the drug is being delivered.

"My project represents an application of fundamental quantum nanoscience that could be used clinically within the foreseeable future," said Mr Waddington.

Contact: Tom Gordon

Phone: 02 9351 3201

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