Physics/GP 108b:  Physics in Modern Medicine

Poster Session Information: (updated February 11, 2009)


What do you mean "poster presentation"?

A "poster" is just what it sounds like: a presentation employing text, images, graphics of all sorts and even physical objects to explain your chosen topic. It may remind you of what you've seen for high school science fairs, but professional scientists use posters to communicate their ideas at major professional meetings. You get a space on a standing display area for your "poster", which should fit into a space approximately 4 feet wide and 6 feet high. If you watch out, you may see other poster displays from other courses in the Zubrow Commons area of the KINSC.  Now, obviously, these posters will be at a different level than the ones you will do since the type of course is different. However, the format and look of the posters will give you good idea of possible poster formats and looks.

We provide the free-standing foamcore posterboards. They will be up on Monday evening, April 6, the day before the first poster presentation;  you will need to get them taken down by 6pm, Friday, April 10 (a hard deadline; see below for more dates.) You provide the content of your poster, which can be displayed on standard bond paper, on poster boards, or any other format you like. You can use color, photos, drawings or other images, or any other presentation materials your topic demands and you see fit. (Please attach your poster to the posterboards using masking tape to avoid permanent damage, though. Please do not use permanent tape or pushpins.)


You will stand by your poster in our session in the Zubrow Commons, KINSC, during class time on Tuesday and Thursday, April 7 ant 9th, so your attendance on those days is mandatory. Half of the class will present their posters in each half of the class time, so you can then browse the other posters the other half of the time. You will be assigned two half-class periods to present your posters closer to the time, once I know what the groups look like. You will present your poster by explaining it to other class members, me and whoever else drops by to check them out.

Format and how to do it:

You may do your poster individually or in teams of two students. Working in pairs is really the ideal, though. Don't feel obliged to work individually unless you really want to. If you work together, I require you to give me a sheet of paper indicating what each person contributed (with percent efforts if you divided up the work on particular aspects).

Here is the format: Use a very large type face (40 point or larger) for your title and a slightly smaller one for your names. Include a short paragraph abstract that summarizes your poster. Then, employ a combination of brief written explanations and graphics to make your points. You should include a bibliography at the end, just as you would with a paper on the same topic. Grading will be upon the usual points of quality of presentation, analysis, but also include points for creativity in displaying your ideas in this format, quality of graphics and quality of personal presentation.

Additional issues about using other sources: You should footnote or otherwise cite any sources that you use in doing your poster presentation, just as you would in a paper. It is better to avoid copying entire blocks of text from another source, but if you must do so you must cite the source and make it clear that you are using a quotation by enclosing the quote in quotation marks or indented paragraphs.  You will include a bibliography at the end of your poster that cites all of your sources used, using standard bibliographic citation formats.

You will present your poster by explaining it to other class members, me and who drops by to check them out. Keep this in mind in crafting your poster. It should stand alone so people can read it when you aren't there, but it's not just a paper stuck on a wall. You can check out examples of scientific posters of various sorts throughout the KINSC, especially in the first floor Link, Sharpless and the 2nd and 3rd floors of the East Wing.

Suggested topics are below, but you may propose topics not on the list. Be sure to clear your ideas with me to make sure you are on target!

Topics and content

While our course lectures usually focus on the science underlying medical technologies and applications in medicine, your main interests should shape your choice of poster topics.  Your presentation need not focus on the science and need not be quantitative.  However, it must be plausibly linked to our course material.  Some of you may decide to explore the science or medical applications of a technique not covered in lecture, or covered only superficially. (See list below.) Other may choose a particular medical condition (say, prostate cancer or breast cancer) and explore topics relating to how these diseases are being diagnosed and treated.  Some may decide they would like to explore policy issues related to these topics, the history of a particular technique, the economic impact of healthcare spending on imaging technologies, the differential way access to medical technologies are allocated by socioeconomic class, the way these resources are used in the developing world, a related topic in epidemiology, and so on.

Our Blackboard website has a section, In the News, where I will post stories that I see from online sources that are relevant to our course topics.
You also are welcome to choose a topic that relates to one of our visitors.

Some books which address the broader historical and social context of the topics covered in our course includet:

Naked to the Bone (a history of medical imaging)

Baby’s First Picture (an assessment of the societal consequences of ultrasound imaging in pregnancy)

The Visible Woman (covers a variety of topics regarding imaging and medicine)

Who Goes First? (Histories of how various medical procedures were first tested out on humans)

What topics wouldn’t work so well?

  • Topics that are already thoroughly covered in the course textbook;  you need to go well beyond the course text in preparing your presentation.
  • Drug development and usage without reference to our specific course material
  • Purely disease-related topics without reference to our specific course material
  • Most topics in alternative medicine (unless you can make a good case they are really related to physics in medicine--the National Institutes of Health website for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is a good place to research this.)

Some Possible Topics:

  • The strange history of the Visible Man project (How do you get the body of an adult man, recently deceased and entirely free from organic disease or trauma to any of the organs?)
  • Smart pills that can navigate the body and deliver drugs on demand (see In the News article)
  • The social structure and economics of medical imaging: recent new articles have pointed out serious shortages of healthcare workers who perform these techniques. You could focus on radiology, allied health professions (the technicians who do this work, etc.) or general economic issues involved in healthcare access.  For example:  the recent budget stimulus plan has significant funding to upgrade electronic medical records--is this going to impact the sharing of radiology data?
  • Combining various imaging technologies in cancer therapy planning, surgery planning, etc.
  • How medical imaging technologies are best used in the developing world;  train the trainers programs such as JUREI that enable the creation of teams of healthcare workers who can perform ultrasound scans in remote rural areas as a good example.
  • The effectiveness of mammography for various groups;  a recent news article questions whether younger women who have inhertied a genetic defect associated with a high risk of breast cancer should undergo screening starting at a very early age, for example.
  • How robotic surgery is being implemented and assessed.
  • Epidemiology as it has been used to assess any of the technologies covered in the course, or related topics.
  • Ethical issues involved in epidemiology (informed consent, study design, etc.) Be sure to get detailed approval on this topic, since you will need to clearly define it and make sure you have good sources!
  • Ultrasound surgery
  • NOTES (Natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery--operating through the body's natural opening and making any incisions internally, to avoid the pain, inflammation and complications associated even with laparoscopic or endoscopic surgery)
  • Access to various screening technologies (colonoscopy, mammography, etc.) and how that varies according to race, socioeconomic class, etc.
  • Uses of various screening technologies, surgical techniques and therapies to treat specific diseases (breast cancer, prostate cancer, etc.) and their effectiveness in diagnosing disease and improving outcomes
  • Sports medicine applications of various technologies (ultrasound, MRI, arthroscopic surgery, etc.)
  • International implementation of the use of these technologies—how do traditional/lower tech methods compare to high tech ones world-wide?
  • Electrophysiology:  EKG and EEG (measurements of the electrical signals from the heart and brain and their uses in medicine)
  • Cardiac pacemakers and defibrillators
  • MEEG:  imaging of brain activity using the magnetic fields generated by its nerve activity
  • Prosthetic devices:  artificial limbs, joints, cochlear implants (to allow sound detection)
  • Ultrasound imaging used for pre-birth gender selection via selective abortion—international issues in its implementation
  • How ultrasound imaging during pregnancy affects the parents’ perceptions of the pregnancy and fetus
  • How medical devices are regulated--maybe use detailed history of how the FDA has viewed a particular medical device.
  • Public policy issues involving any topic in the course:  who funds their development?  How are they approved, produced and marketed?  How is their quality monitored?
  • Ethical issues involved in the use of any method covered in the course
  • Safety of any topic in the course—how it’s assessed and established in practice
  • History of the development of any technologies
  • Molecular imaging (including chemical to target particular disease conditions)
  • Development of chemical contrast agents
  • Use of these techniques in veterinary medicine
  • Virtual reality in medicine
  • Battlefield medicine (telemedicine & robotics, etc. to care for injured soldiers)
  • Use of robotics and telemedicine in emergency medical care
  • Use of telemedicine to extend the reach of medicine treatment to remote areas of the world
  • Safety of irradiated foods (status of legislation on this topic)
  • Radiation safety and the history of this subject:  the Chernobyl nuclear accident (and what was learned from that event) the atomic bombings of Japan during WWII, etc.
  • Use of brain imaging techniques in psychology or in neurology.
  • The use of various techniques (brain imaging, electrical recordings, etc.) to study topics such as whether one can detect lying and deception;  find gender-based differences in brain function;  understand various forms of dementia; find brain-function correlates of mental processes (language and speech processing, religious feelings, fear, emotion, etc.)