Engineering and Information Sciences


Michael Lerch

Current Positions:

Associate Professor,
Head, School of Physics, University of Wollongong
Head, Radiation Detection and Instrumentation, Centre for Medical Radiation Physics, University of Wollongong


Associate Professor Michael Lerch graduated with a PhD in solid state physics in 1998. He was a Founding Member of the Centre for Medical Radiation Physics in 2000 and in 2004 he accepted a permanent academic position at UOW. He is currently an Associate Professor and Head of the School of Physics at UOW. Michael is also Leader of the Radiation Detection and Instrumentation Theme within the CMRP, a University research strength ranked as being ¿above world standard¿ (Australian Research Council 2010 and 2012 Excellence in Research (ERA) initiative).

Michael applies his expertise of electronic properties of semiconductors to the design and development of novel, solid state based sensors and instrumentation for application in radiation medicine. His contribution to the CMRP is through his significant experience and expertise in radiation interactions and semiconducting properties of matter. He has played a major role in the development of a real-time, solid state radiation dosimetry system with micron-scale spatial resolution for the Australian Synchrotron and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility).

Michael is particularly interested in the optimization of radiation medicine created by the physical and semiconducting properties of engineered nano-ceramics and semiconductor devices in different radiation field environments (e.g. photons or charged particles). In addition he is interested in the real-world implementation and application of real-time devices designed to operate in vivo from a targeted diagnostic imaging and radiotherapy point of view. He draws in his extensive experience in cutting-edge instrumentation for radiation medicine (imaging and therapy) gained through many years of undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and research at the University of Wollongong. Since 2005 he has supervised 20 higher degree research student completions.

As a foundation member of the CMRP A/Prof. Lerch played a major role in bringing together multidisciplinary members and collaborators (researchers, undergraduate and postgraduate students) who drive this exciting new and very successful medical physics field of research at UOW. He contributes to new ideas and critically analyses, interprets and evaluates experimental data and provides linkages between the radiation detector design and development (Directed by Prof. Rozenfeld), customised electronics development (headed by Dr Petasecca), Monte Carlo radiation transport simulations (headed by Dr Guatelli), and Targeted Nano-Theranostic Systems development (headed by Dr Tehei) carried out within the CMRP.

Michael is a co-inventor of a granted US patent, a co-creator of 2 granted patents in the US and China respectively. Another 3 patent applications, in which he has either co-invented or co-created, are currently pending. Michael has co-authored over 100 articles in journals, highly respected in their field, and has secured over $35M in research funding and special research initiatives as a CI. Michael has supervised the completion of more than 20 higher degree research students and mentored several junior staff and postdocs.

Research Interests:

Specific Research Activity with National and International Collaborators
Below is a list of research projects outside the scope of this proposal in which Michael has made a significant contribution. Completed research students under Michael's supervision and collaborators are listed:

- Portable Anti-Compton Probe for Illicit Radio-isotope Identification (A. Flynn): Patented, television interview (WIN TV), several radio interviews (e.g. ABC radionational) and two conference publications. A new portable radioisotope identification device which can be used as a primary and/or secondary radiation isotope monitor for front line officers at points of border control, police and installation on vehicles. Collaborators: ScintiTech (USA), ANSTO.

- Portable Dual Scintillator-Semiconductor Probe for Radioguided Surgery (B. Franks, D. Inwood): Patented, television interview (WIN TV), several radio interviews (e.g. ABC radionational) and three conference publications. A portable surgical probe for breast cancer detection and staging of active sentinel nodes for subsequent biopsy via radioguided surgery. Collaborators: Illawarra Cancer Care Centre (ICCC), Uni. Coll. London Hosp. (UK).

- X-Tream Quality Assurance System for MRT (A. Cullen, A. Hamed, C. Stanton, I. Fuduli): Development of new silicon detectors and the first readout system for on-line dosimetry in synchrotron microbeam radiation therapy. Collabs: European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), Grenoble, Australian Synchrotron.

- Dose Magnifying Glass (J. Wong, S. Khanna, A. Balaglow): Real-time, high spatial resolution silicon multi-strip array for dosimetry QA system for Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT), Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS), Microbeam Radiation Therapy (MRT) and Tomotherapy. Collabs: ICCC, University of Wisconsin (Madison), USA, ESRF, AS

- MOSFET and MOSkin Dosimetry System (N. Hardcastle, I. Kwan, H. Nettelbeck, D. Wilkinson): On-line MOSFET dosimetry system for external radiation therapy and microbeam radiation therapy. The IP outcome has rendered a granted patent in China, and is under examination in other jurisdictions. Collabs: Sun Yat Sen Cancer Centre (China), Geneva Hospital (Switzerland), St. George CCC (Sydney), ICCC, and Sutherland Hospital

- MagicPlate (Z. Alrowaili, I. Fuduli, A. Espinoza, J. Wong): Real-time fluence and field check system for modern photon therapy modalities such as IMRT, VMAT, Rapid ARC, SRS and tomotherapy. This CMRP instrument is currently under the final stages of a licensing agreement with a US company. Collabs: ICCC, Uni. of Wisconsin, USA

- Targeted Nano-Therapies (M. Macdonald, R. Leonard, S. Oktaria, A. Briggs, R. Brown): Two journal articles published. Simulation and experimental investigation of very promising new methods and technologies for targeted radiotherapy using new ceramic nanoparticle based materials. Collaborators: Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney; Centre for Medical Bioscience, UOW; Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI-UOW), Australian Institute of Innovative Materials (AIIM-UOW).

- Positron Emission Tomography (K. Li, M. Safavi-Naeini, L. Pererra, T. Young, R. Ward, P. Hooper): Seven refereed journal publications. Development of a solid state based detector module for this medical imaging modality with full depth of gamma ray interaction capability. Collaborators: HEP Group, University of Melbourne, CSIRO Melbourne, Silanna and the Sydney Brain and Mind Research Institute, Sydney University.
- Solid State Microdosimeter (N. Hu, J. Livingstone, A. Ziebell): A major research area of CMRP for many years for measuring the microdosimetric spectra in mixed radiation fields. Collaborators: US Naval Academy (USNA), USA, Australian Nano-Fabrication Facility ANFF (NSW node at UNSW), Micro-analytical Research Centre (MARC), Uni. Of Melb, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).

- Urethra Probe Development (D. Cutajar, I. Kwan): Radiation dosimetry instrument for use during Low Dose Rate prostate brachytherapy treatment. The IP outcome has been granted with 2 US patents and 2 Canadian patents. Collaborators: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre (USA) and St. George Prostate Cancer Institute

- BrachyView (K. Loo, M. Weaver): Development of an integrated dosimetry system into an ultrasound rectal probe for High Dose Rate (HDR) and LDR brachytherapy. Collaborators: St George Cancer Care Centre (Sydney, Australia), Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre, New York, USA

Professional Activities:

o 2014-2016 Chair, Outreach and Dissemination Board, Advanced Radiation Dosimetry European Network Training (ARDENT), a Marie Curie Initial Training Network funded by the European Commission 7th Framework Programme, Grant Agreement 289198
o 2012-2015 Non-European Member, European Cooperation in Science and Technology; COST Action MP1205 "Innovative methods in radiotherapy and radiosurgery using synchrotron radiation" (SYRA3),
o 2012-2015 Non-European Member, European Cooperation in Science and Technology; COST Action MP1002 'Nanoscale insights into Ion Beam Cancer Therapy' (Nano-IBCT),
o 2005 -2016 Session Chair, IEEE Nuclear Science Symposium and Medical Imaging Conference.
o 2012 Member: Scientific Programme Committee (Head of Biomedical Physics and Biophysics Stream) AIP Congress 2012, Sydney.
o 2012 UOW Excellence in Research Australia Panel Leader (02 FOR Code),
o 2010- 2013 Faculty Research Committee Member,
o 2000 - 2016 University of Wollongong Representative, Australian Institute of Physics, NSW Branch
o 2010 - 2016 Participant: CSIRO Scientists in Schools Program

Patents: Granted and Pending
Co-inventor of:
1. M.L.F. Lerch, A.B.Rozenfeld A Getkin, "Dual Radiation Detector", Pub. No.:WO/2008/095257, Granted US patent, no#US 8,212,220 B2
2. M.L.F. Lerch, A.B.Rozenfeld, M Petasecca, "Detector and Apparatus" Australian Provisional Patent, 2013
3. A. Rozenfeld, M. Lerch, M. Petasecca, "Radiation Detector, Method and Apparatus" Pub. No. WO/2012/034178, currently under PCT phase.

2009-2010: Consultant to Applied Economics Pty Ltd, Sydney, as an expert in current and newly developing medical radiation detectors for imaging modalities. Michael was the initial contact and secured the relationship between Applied Economics and the CMRP, prepared the background information related to the successful tender document, participated in interviews of stakeholders, contributed to the preparation of the final report on "Costs for Diagnostic Equipment Capital Expenditure in Australia" (RFQ 133/0910). Prepared for, and accepted by, the Department of Health and Ageing, The Australian Government.


Awards of Research Students supervised by Michael Lerch

- Amy Ziebell - Best PhD student¿s research (Si microdosimetry) MedPhys, USyd 2007,
- Lakshal Pererra - IEEE NSS MIC travel award for high quality paper 2007,
- Mitra Safavi-Naeini and Amy Ziebell - Research Scholar Award Cancer Institute NSW, 2008
- Dean Cutajar - Best Paper Award "Varian Award", Canberra EPSM 2009
- Mitra Safavi-Naeini - IEEE NPSS Phelps Educational Award IEEE NSS MIC 2009
- Amy Ziebell - IEEE NPSS Phelps Educational Award IEEE NSS MIC 2009
- Jeannie Wong - Best Paper Nomination in Med Phys (Featured in MedPhysWeb), 2010.
- Sianne Oktaria - AINSE Postgraduate Student Travel Award 2011
- Adam Briggs - Best Registrar Research Presentation, MedPhys2012
- Ryan Brown - Postgraduate research student travel award, EPSM 2012

Research Students

  • Matthew Cameron : Microbeam Radiation Therapy Development of Instrumentation and Software Tools for Quality Assurance
  • Kananan Utitsarn : Monolithic Silicon Transmission Pixelate Detector For Small Field Dosimetry
  • Lee Taylor : Cerium Oxide Nanoparticles: A sSudy of Ce^3+ ion Influence on Radioprotection
  • Andrew Dipuglia : Development of a silicon-on-diamond dosimeter for Microbeam Radiation Therapy
  • Elette Engels : Lanthanide nanoparticles for image guided multimodal therapies
  • Carolyn Hollis : Multimodal Therapy: A Combination of Oncothermia, Microbeam Radiation Therapy and Nano Therapy
  • Jason Paino : Development and Validation of a Monte Carlo Based Treatment Planning System for Microbeam Radiation Therapy
  • Ajay Thomas : Review of Methodology for Patient Dose From Cone Beam CT Procedures in Radiotherapy
  • Matt Westlake : Synthesis and Characterisation of Nanoparticles Such As Bismuth Ferrite For Implementation in MRI and CT
  • Lee Coates : Assessing and Optimising DE CTPA to Improve Patient Management
  • Ryan Muir : One-dimensional protein compression along DNA chains