Rights: The University of Waikato Published 21 July 2007 Download

Dr Richard Watts from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Canterbury talks about his work in a very exciting area of applied physics.

He is able to start from basic science and very rapidly work towards new methods of disease diagnosis and treatment.


What do I enjoy about my work? Well, it’s a very applied area of physics, so we can programme the MRI scanner to do different types of acquisition, and in a very rapid period you can move things from a very basic science level all the way through to actually treating patients and it’s not a huge long process. If somebody comes up with a very good idea, within a very few years it can be at the stage where every MRI scanner around the world has this technique available to it. So it’s a very exciting, very applied area. You generate really amazing images and you have an amazing structure to look at, both when you’re looking at the brain and when you’re looking at other parts of the body. So it’s very rewarding from the perspective that you are actually dealing with clinical issues. If you can develop a better test for a particular disease then people can treat that disease better. If you can understand the brain better, then we’ll understand the disease and we can do things like monitoring the progression of a disease. What’s the effect of a treatment? Is this drug helping or is it not helping? And then you get to work with all these other people which I think it’s very stimulating.