Prof. Joana Matos Dias (Universidade de Coimbra and INESC Coimbra) presented the online seminar "Operations Research in Medicine: An important contribution to Medical Physics", on March 26th 2021.
When thinking of Operations Research and health, most of us will immediately think of operations research applications to health logistics (optimal scheduling, location problems, assignment optimization, and so on). However, operations research can also have a very important impact in medicine, improving the treatment delivered to patients. This is the case with radiotherapy treatments, where operations research is a central and fundamental scientific discipline to be able to assure that patients do receive the most adequate treatment. Radiotherapy uses cutting edge technology, allowing high doses of radiation to be delivered to the structures that are meant to be treated (tumors) and, at the same time, sparing as most as possible the healthy tissues. For each patient, a truly personalized treatment plan must be planned, and this is done resorting to a TPS (treatment planning system). This is a dedicated software where the treatment planner has to follow a trial-and-error process until the best possible treatment plan is found. This can be a lengthy process, and the quality of the final plan is highly dependent on the planner's experience. Operations Research, in a fruitful collaboration with Medical Physics, can change this paradigm: it can contribute to transform this trial-and-error procedure into an automatic process. The overall objective is that better plans are found in less time, freeing the planner for other very important tasks, like quality assurance and control. In this presentation, this connection between Operations Research and Medical Physics will be presented, as well as some of the work that is being developed by a Portuguese research team, and many interesting paths for future research.
Joana Matos Dias has a BSc in Computers Engineering (University of Coimbra, 1996), an MSc in Operations Research (University of Lisbon, 2000), an MSc in Quantitative Finance (University of London, 2011), a PhD and Habilitation in Management Science (University of Coimbra, 2006, 2017). She is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Coimbra, where she has been responsible for several curricular units like informatics, logistics, operations research, modeling in management, simulation. She is also a researcher at Inesc-Coimbra. Her main research interest is decision making models and algorithms in general, and operations research applied to health problems, combinatorial optimization, multiobjective optimization, in particular. She is author or co-author of two books and more than 90 papers in refereed international journals, conference proceedings and book chapters.
Personal homepage: https://www.uc.pt/feuc/joanamatosdias
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