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ACF in Radiology

Dr Mitch Chen

Pathway to an ACF position

Prior to medicine, I studied for my first degree in engineering science at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, with a focus on information engineering.  I followed this up with a DPhil, working on computer-assisted segmentation of malignant pleural mesothelioma. It was at this stage that I discovered my passion for a career in academic medicine, where I see an opportunity to combine my applied science background with a clinical perspective to better identify and tackle medical research problems. 

With this thought in mind, I studied medicine with the graduate-entry programme at Oxford. Throughout medical school and foundation training, I have continued my involvement in research, working on developing the use of hyperpolarized xenon MRI for thoracic imaging applications.

Whilst completing my FY2 in North West Thames, I decided to apply to return to Oxford, and was luckily offered a post as an ACF in radiology.

What does the work involve?

The radiology ACF programme at Oxford is structured so that we are given one day a week for research throughout the duration of the fellowship. Compared to having a dedicated academic block, this allows for a more sustained level of research commitment, which can be useful when it comes to coordinating a clinical trial, a process that can take many months to complete.

My current clinical job as an ST2 is divided into 3-month blocks, whereby I rotate through different areas within radiology and do general radiology on-calls on the junior SpR rota.

I am based at the Churchill Imaging Trials Unit for research. Working within a multidisciplinary team consisting of clinicians, radiographers, physicists, nuclear pharmacists, research nurses and admin staff, I coordinate the clinical trials on the use of hyperpolarized xenon MRI for radiotherapy and asthma cohorts. Additionally, I am leading a clinical trial looking at the use of dual energy CT for the post-mortem examination of suspected thromboembolic death patients.

In addition to research, I give tutorials to pre-clinical students at St. Anne’s College, Oxford. This works superbly alongside my clinical duties in radiology, as it allows me to apply the human functional anatomy knowledge that radiology is so fundamentally based on to the benefit of undergraduate medical education at Oxford.    

Why Oxford? 

In addition to offering world-class research facilities, Oxford is a centre where the foremost minds from different fields meet.  This carries particular importance in clinical research, where a high level of inter-disciplinary collaboration is essential.

For my work, I actively collaborate with leading experts in oncology, respiratory medicine, cardiology, engineering, physics and computing science. Through this collaboration, we have been able to formulate solutions to the many challenges that we encounter, which would otherwise have been insuperable. 

What's next?

I plan to continue my research works alongside clinical training through an academic clinical lectureship. The ACF enables me to develop a research portfolio to facilitate this.

September 2018