Jeffrey Bamber Lecture

19 October 2017,


Fox Lecture Theatre, Arts Building, UWA
General Public, Faculty/Staff, Students, Alumni

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 Jeffrey Bamber

Acoustic Reflections: advanced medical ultrasound imaging and parallels in the mining and construction industries

A public lecture by Professor Jeffrey Bamber, Head, Ultrasound and Optical Imaging Physics, The Institute of Cancer Research London and Institute of Advanced Studies Gledden Short Stay Visiting Fellow.

Compared with other medical imaging technologies, ultrasound is low cost, transportable, rapid, safe and comfortable for the patient. It offers excellent 3D soft tissue visibility, good blood flow information and high frame rate. It has already made enormous contributions to medicine but the potential for further impact is truly exciting. This lecture draws on the author’s work in cancer research to look at recent progress, mentioning parallels that exist because of lessons learnt from mining and construction industries.  

A very promising area is mechanical property imaging, known as elastography. A key aim of Professor Bamber’s visit to Perth is to collaborate with The University of Western Australia on this topic. As in geophysics, different types of mechanical wave travel in tissue at different speeds, each providing importantly different information. In medicine, we use a pressure wave (ultrasound) to watch the progress of a shear wave and make images of its speed. This is proving important for diagnosis and assisting treatment of an astonishingly wide range of diseases.  

In another form of elastography (of which there are many) the tissue is held under gentle pressure while ultrasound is used to watch it deform over time as fluid between the cells is slowly squeezed out. Soil consolidation theory from the 1940s construction industry is used to convert the results into measurements of sizes of the microscopic pores (gaps) in tissue through which fluid can squeeze. Applications include monitoring the treatment of cancer and conditions such as lymphoedema.  

Medical ultrasound tomography is an area that borrows techniques from seismic imaging. There are two methods that use techniques from passive seismic tomography. One is plane wave imaging, which allows imaging at thousands of frames per second and with exquisite resolution of deep microscopic blood vessels. The other is optoacoustic tomography, which reveals optical absorbers such as haemoglobin or melanin, or dyes or nanoparticles introduced intravenously, because they emit sound waves when they are heated using a short (<10 ns) laser pulse. Finally, in the medical equivalent of seismic inversion imaging, images may be reconstructed of the ultrasound speed, attenuation and scattering. These images hold potential for cancer screening, diagnosis and monitoring, and even quantifying the risk of developing cancer.      

Jeff Bamber has been head of Ultrasound and Optical Imaging Physics at The Institute of Cancer Research London, UK since 1986. He is Professor in Physics Applied to Medicine and Senior Tutor, and an honorary Medical Physicist within the Royal Marsden and other London hospitals. He has a BSc Physics (University of Kent at Canterbury), MSc Biophysics and Bioengineering (University of London), and PhD Biophysics (University London). He has contributed to a wide range of research areas and had sabbaticals at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan, and Hewlett-Packard, Andover, USA. Several of his inventions have been translated to become widely available on commercial ultrasound systems. He is past president of the International Association for Breast Ultrasound, past vice-president of the International Society for Skin Imaging and serves as scientific advisor to a number of companies.