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April 24, 1987

Physics in Medicine and Biology Encyclopedia: Medical Physics, Bioengineering and Biophysics

Author Affiliations

General Electric Company Schenectady, NY

General Electric Company Schenectady, NY

JAMA. 1987;257(16):2222. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390160108039

There exists a field of endeavor at the edge of medicine whose challenge is to introduce new technologies and maintain the old. Commonly called medical physics or biomedical engineering, depending on the origins of its contributors, it has achieved many and marvelous successes throughout the history of medicine—from x-rays to hearing aids and heart valves to magnetic resonance imaging—that bear testimony to what may be accomplished when physicians, physicists, chemists, engineers, and mathematicians collaborate with common goals.

Yet, the diversity of medical technology and the interdisciplinary nature of the collaboration often leave the medical physicist's role ill defined and the subject relegated to the periphery of mainstream conferences and journals devoted to the recognized disciplines. Moreover, questions like "What is a medical physicist?" often receive nebulous responses or are left completely unanswered, even by those employed as such. At least in this sense, the Physics in Medicine and Biology Encyclopedia