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Dr Emiliano Spezi PhD, FIPEM, CPhys, MInstP, CSci

Dr Emiliano Spezi

PhD, FIPEM, CPhys, MInstP, CSci

Reader - Teaching and Research

School of Engineering

Email:
espezi@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 (0)29 2087 6521
Location:
Room C/4.04, Queen's Buildings, 5 The Parade, Newport Road, Cardiff, CF24 3AA
Available for postgraduate supervision

Reader

Leader, Medical Engineering group

Leader, Cancer Imaging and Data Analytics research team

I graduated in Physics at the University of Bologna and then specialised in Medical Physics. I am a state registered Clinical Scientist with more than 15 years experience in Research and Development in the National Health Service. I received my Ph.D. from the University of Wales College of Medicine. I receive grants from National and International funding bodies and from the Industry.

My research interests include: External Beam Radiotherapy; X-ray imaging; PET Imaging; SPECT Imaging; EPID dosimetry; Molecular Radiotherapy; Monte Carlo Simulation; Radiotherapy Treatment Planning; Radiotherapy Trials Quality Assurance.

The research generated in my lab is being translated in clinical practice as part of the PEARL radiotherapy trial featured in BBC News.

The innovative use of AI that we are making with Intel Corporation to improve accuracy and efficiency of radiotherapy treatments was featured in the latest edition of the MedWales Lifestories Magazine. Read more here (page 26).

We participate to, and lead on, several high profile international collaborations. An example of this is provided by the development of an open architecture image biobank to aid cancer research at the Tata Medical Centre Kolkata in India. The launch of the digital platform was featured in the Indian press. Read more on the KGP Chronicle website.

Education

2003: PhD (Medical Physics), University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff, UK
1998: MSc (Clinical Scientist), University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy
1996: Laurea (Physics), University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

Honours and awards

Winner of the European Radiology ESGAR Silver Award 2018 (awarded in 2019)

  • Foley et al Development and validation of a prognostic model incorporating texture analysis derived from standardised segmentation of PET in patients with oesophageal cancer. Eur Radiol. 2018 Jan;28(1):428-436

Winner of the ESTRO-Varian Research Award 2019

  • Deist et al Distributed learning on 20 000+ lung cancer patients, Radiother Oncol (2019) Vol 133 Supp. 1, S287-8 https://www.estro.org/Congresses/ESTRO-38/Awards


Winner of the journal’s Best Paper Award 2018: European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Physics

  • Sjögreen Gleisner et al Variations in the practice of molecular radiotherapy and implementation of dosimetry: results from a European survey, EJNMMI Physics (2017) 4:28 https://doi.org/10.1186/s40658-017-0193-4

Winner of the Burgen Scholarship Award 2016: Academia Europaea

  • Computational Models in Funtional Imaging and Radiation Therapy

Winner of the Best Physics Poster Award 2016: ESTRO

  • Berthon et al Towards standardisation of PET-autosegmentaion with the ATLAAS machine learning algorithm, Radiother. Oncol. (2016) 119 (Supp 1): S452

Winner of the Manufactures' Award for Innovation 2015: IPEM

  • ATLAAS: an automatic decision tree-based learning algorithm for advanced image segmentation in positron emission tomography, Phys. Med. Biol. (2016) Jul 7;61(13):4855-69

Winner of IPEM/AAPM Travel award: IPEM/AAPM

  • A Monte Carlo investigation of the accuracy of intensity modulated radiotherapy, Med. Phys. (2004) https://doi.org/10.1118/1.164451

Professional memberships

Fellow Member of the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM)

Chartered Member of the Instutte of Physics (IoP)

State Registered Clinical Scientist: Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

Academic positions

External examiner (research degrees): University of The Free State (South Africa), University of Cape Town (South Africa), Swansea University, Swansea (United Kingdom), Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona (Spain), National University of Ireland, Galway (Ireland), University of London, London (United Kingdom), Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen (Denmark).

Committees and reviewing

Current duties

Chair of the Research Ethics Committe of Cardiff University School of Engineering

Associate Editor of the European Journal of Medical Physics (Physica Medica), Elsevier

Member of the Welsh Government - Welsh Scientific Advisory Committee

Past duties

Vice-Chair of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) Task Group 211 Classification, Advantages and Limitations of the Auto-Segmentation Approaches for PET

Chair of theNational Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Radiotherapy Trials QA Database solutions and IT subgroup

Member of the NCRI Clinical and Translational Radiotherapy Research Working Group (CTRad) Workstream 4: New Technology, Physics and Quality Assurance

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

In addition to providing undergraduate project, dissertation and essay supervision, I am Module Organiser for the following modules:

  • EN4505: Medical Image Processing (MEng, School of Engineering)
  • EN4506: Clinical Engineering 2 (MEng, School of Engineering)
  • PX3247: Radiation for Medical Therapy (BSc, School of Physics and Astronomy)

Cancer Imaging and Data Analytics

Cancer Imaging and Data Analytics is a team with multi-disciplinary skills established at the Cardiff University School of Engineering. CIDA is led by Dr Emiliano Spezi (Reader in Medical Engineering and Medical Physics) and consists of post-doctoral research associates and PhD students. The research interest of the group spans from advanced medical image processing and radiomics to advanced computer modelling of the delivery and of the effects of radiation therapy.

In the field of medical imaging the team has developed ATLAAS, an award-winning machine learning based tool which can be used to select the optimal Positron Emission Tomography automated segmentation method for radiotherapy treatment planning.

Furthermore, we have established a programme of image analysis techniques, including segmentation, texture, shape and intensity analysis and wavelet analysis, combining this with clinical and genomic data to produce diagnostic, prognostic and predictive models. We have a very intensive programme of development of radiomics algorithms, which are advanced imaging techniques that allow non-invasive, high-throughput, three-dimensional extraction of large numbers of descriptive features from any volume of interest. CIDA is a founding member of the Image Biomarker Standardisation Initiative (IBSI) to develop standardised radiomics algorithms and reporting guidelines that can make radiomics analyses reproducible and comparable [https://arxiv.org/abs/1612.07003v6].

In addition, we are building an IT infrastructure and standardised algorithms that can be included in any machine learning training and validation process. The idea is that any developed and validated prognostic/predictive model can be included in libraries as part of a Decision Support System that can be used in real time by clinicians in the clinic. CIDA and Velindre University NHS Trust were the recipients of the NHS Innovation Award 2018 (Welsh Government, Efficiency Through Technology programme). As part of the “AI Solutions for Personalised Radiotherapy” (ASPIRE) project CIDA, Velindre and Intel Corporation are working on a project aimed at training and validating AI software for the automated delineation of tumour volumes on anatomical and functional imaging modalities. The training is designed to be performed on a large retrospective dataset of labelled clinical scans and will be validated on a prospective dataset acquired throughout the duration of the project. In addition to reducing dramatically the workload in radiotherapy planning, we expect AI auto-segmented volumes to be of equal quality and more consistent than those outlined manually, which our research group have investigated extensively. The integration of AI in the clinical radiotherapy workflow will prepare the ground for future developments related to high throughput medical image analysis (radiomics), development of a fully automated radiotherapy workflow (from AI-based automated segmentation to AI-based automated planning), and development of decision support system for clinicians to use in clinical practice. CIDA and Velindre are also partners on a project (FAST-RTP2) aimed at including AI in the process of automating the preparation of external radiotherapy plans.

Machine learning applications for personalized medicine are highly dependent on access to sufficient data. Large datasets from a broad range of different populations representing the variation in the entire cancer patient population need to be acquired and used to learn prediction models. In CIDA we use a distributed learning approach which was designed to address ethical and legal boundaries and to limit the impact of data privacy collaboration between research institutes. Cardiff University and The Christie NHS Foundation Trust are the only two UK centers participating to the European Computer Assisted Theragnostics project (EuroCAT) project and to CORAL (Community in Oncology for Rapid Learning) community. CORAL includes almost 30 cancer centres worldwide (Netherlands, USA, UK, India, China, South-Africa, Australia, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Canada, Denmark). CORAL is based on a distributed approach in which data do not cross the firewall, where data is made semantically interoperable locally, and where centres allow applications to enter their firewall and use their data to answer a particular research questions, without any patient identifiable information being exposed/shared. Applications are focused on machine learning and modelling to predict for instance overall survival in a particular tumour site.

Members of the CIDA team

Dr Concetta Piazzese (Post-Doctoral Research Associate)

Dr Craig Parkinson (Post-Doctoral Research Associate)

Dr Emily Johnstone (Post-Doctoral Research Associate)

Mr Philip Whybra (PhD student)

Miss Iona Foster (PhD student)

Mr Nathan Kimball-Smith (PhD student)

Mr Emad Alsyed (PhD student)

Miss Eszter Kolozsi (PhD student)

Miss Elisabetta Cagni (PhD student)

Associated members of the CIDA team

Prof John Staffurth (Professor Cinical Oncology, Cardiff University School of Medicine and Velindre Cancer Centre)

Dr Kieran Foley (Consultant Radiologist, Velindre Cancer Centre)

Mr Salvatore Berenato (Clinical Scientist, Velindre Cancer Centre)

Contracts

Title Role Sponsor Value Duration
ASPIRE: AI Solutions for Personalised Radiotherapy (Efficiency Through Technology programme)  Co-PI Welsh Government and Intel Corp 198,030 2018-2020
DOTATER+: Advanced Personalised 3D Dosimetry for a clinical trial in peptide radionuclide therapy PI Cancer Research Wales 80,341 2015-2018
ARENA: Extension of RTTQA outlining activity into the educational arena  Co-PI        Velindre NHS Trust 340,200 2018-2021
PEARL: PET-based Adaptive Radiotherapy Clinical Trial  Co-I Cancer Research Wales 720,000 2017-2021
FAST-RTP2: Implementing automated techniques in radiotherapy treatment planning Co-I Velindre NHS Trust 76,430 2018-2021
STORM_GLIO: Developing Radiomics as an Imaging Biomarker in High Grade Glioma Co-PI Velindre NHS Trust 37,835 2018-2021
TEXRAD: Establishing image derived prognostic and predictive biomarkers of radiotherapy treatments and assessing treatment response using texture analysis
Co-PI    Velindre NHS Trust - Moondance Foundation 81,540 2017-2020

Past grants and contracts

Title: Informatics Platform for Advanced Cancer Imaging Research
Value: £18,638
Role: Principal Investigator
Period: 2017
Funding body: Data Innovation and Research Institute

Title: Raydose GUI development
Value: £26,646
Role: Principal Investigator
Period: 2015-2016
Funding body: EURAMET - Velindre NHS Trust

Title: Advanced FDG PET-CT target volume delineation in Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy planning for Head and Neck cancers
Value: £45,000
Role: Principal Investigator
Period: 2014-2015
Funding body: Cancer Research Wales

Title: 3-D Printed sources for High-Resolution Molecular Imaging
Value: £10,000
Role: Principal Investigator
Period: 2014-2015
Funding body: Velindre NHS Trust

Title: RAYDOSEPLAN a multimodality platform for treatment planning research in molecular radiotherapy
Value: €242,000
Role: Principal Investigator
Period: 2012-2015
Funding body: European Association of National Metrology Institutes (EURAMET)

Title: Adaptive Image-Guided Radiotherapy Strategies for Bladder and Cervical Cancer to Enable Dose Escalation and Reduce Late Toxicity
Value: £60,000
Role: Co-Investigator
Period: 2014-2015
Funding body: Cancer Research Wales

Title: XVI5IEC: Evaluation of patient dose to skin and eye lens for default CBCT settings
Value: £8,000
Role: Principal Investigator
Period: 2013
Funding body: Elekta Ltd Crawley UK

Title: XVIoptimal5: Evaluation of patient dose reduction and image quality for new Cone Beam CT settings
Value: £8,100
Role: Principal Investigator
Period: 2013
Funding body: Elekta Ltd Crawley UK

Title: MOZART: Parameters affecting tumour control and toxicity in oesophageal cancer: a multi-dimensional outcome analysis
Value: £67,000
Role: Principal Investigator
Period: 2012-2015
Funding body: Cancer Research Wales

Title: POSITIVE: Optimisation of positron emission tomography based target volume delineation in Head and Neck radiotherapy
Value: £81,000
Role: Principal Investigator
Period: 2011-2014
Funding body: Cancer Research Wales

Title: RAYDOSE: Assessment of patient dose using novel radioisotopes in Molecular Targeted Radiotherapy
Value: £170,000
Role: Principal Investigator
Period: 2010-2012
Funding body: Wales Office of Research and Development for Health and Social Care (WORD)

Title: A Comparison of Convolution/Superposition and Monte Carlo methods for conformal radiotherapy
Value: £80,000
Role: Co-Investigator
Period: 2009-2014
Funding body: Cancer Research Wales

Title: XVIctdi: Cone Beam CT dosimetry using an optimised phantom
Value: £20,000
Role: Principal Investigator
Period: 2009-2014
Funding body: Elekta Ltd Crawley UK

Title: Extending the RTGrid portal to the wider user community
Value: £52,000
Role: Co-Investigator
Period: 2009
Funding body: JISC ENGAGE e-Infrastructure programme

Title: MRI in radiotherapy planning
Value: £10,000
Role: Principal Investigator
Period: 2009
Funding body: Velindre NHS Trust

Title: The application of GafChromic film in routine and non routine quality control methods in radiotherapy physics
Value: £4,000
Role: Principal Investigator
Period: 2007
Funding body: Velindre NHS Trust

Areas of interest

I am available to supervise Post Graduate Research students in the following areas:

  • MEDICAL IMAGE ANALYSIS
  • RADIOMICS
  • MACHINE LEARNING IN RADIATION ONCOLOGY
  • MONTE CARLO MODELLING OF RADIATION TRANSPORT
  • MOLECULAR RADIOTHERAPY DOSIMETRY
  • ADVANCED RADIOTHERAPY TECHNIQUES

PubMed search of publications by Dr Spezi (link).

 

Funded PhD opportunities

There are no funded PhD opportunities at present.

 

Current PGR projects

Title

Student

Status

Degree

Type

Role

PET IMAGE TEXTURE ANALYSIS AND RADIOTHERAPY ALSYED Emad Current PhD Full time Main supervisor

DEVELOPING RADIOMICS AS AN IMAGING BIOMARKER IN HIGH GRADE GLIOMA

KOLOZSI Eszter

Current

PhD

Full time

Main suopervisor

COMPUTATIONAL MODELS FOR OPTIMAL PROTON BEAM TREATMENT PLANNING

KIMBALL-SMITH Charles Nathan

Current

PhD

Full time

Main supervisor

ADVANCED PERSONALISED 3D DOSIMETRY FOR A CLINICAL TRIAL IN PETIDE RADIONUCLIDE THERAPY

BERENATO Salvatore

Current

PhD

Full time

Main supervisor

APPLICATION OF TEXTURE ANALYSIS TO IDENTIFY PROGNOSTIC BIOMARKERS FOR THE OPTIMISATION OF RADIOTHERAPY TREATMENTS

WHYBRA Philip

Current

PhD

Full time

Main supervisor

AUTOMATED PLANNING FOR IMAGE-GUIDED RADIOTHERAPY

CAGNI Elisabetta

Current

PhD

Full time

Main supervisor

OPTIMIZATION OF RADIONUCLIDIC PURITY AND YIELD OF CYCLOTRON BASED NUCLEAR REACTIONS IN THE PRODUCTION OF METALLIC PET RADIOISOTOPES

DABKOWSKI Adam

Current

PhD

Part time

Co supervisor

TRACEABLE QUANTIFICATION OF PATIENT DOSE IN MOLECULAR RADIOTHERAPY

FENWICK Andrew

Current

PhD

Part time

Co supervisor

Current supervision

Philip Whybra

Research student

Salvatore Berenato

Research student

Elisabetta Cagni

Research student

Nathan Kimball-Smith

Research student

Emad Alsyed

Emad Alsyed

Research student

Eszter Kolozsi

Research student

Iona Deborah Foster

Research student

Past projects

Title

Student

Status

Degree

Type

Role

ADVANCED AUTOMATED PET IMAGE SEGMENTATION IN RADIATION THERAPY

PARKINSON Craig

Completed

PhD

Full time

Main supervisor

DEVELOPMENT OF TECHNIQUES FOR VERIFICATION OF ADVANCED RADIOTHERAPY BY PORTAL DOSIMETRY

MD RADZI Yasmin

Completed

PhD

Full time

Main Supervisor

RADIOTHERAPY DOSE CALCULATION IN OESOPHAGAEL CANCER: COMPARISON OF ANALYTICAL AND MONTE CARLO METHODS

JOHNS Dewi

Completed

PhD

Part time

Main supervisor

PARAMETERS AFFECTING TUMOUR CONTROL AND TOXICITY IN OESOPHAGEAL CANCER: A MULTI-DIMENSIONAL OUTCOME ANALYSIS

CARRINGTON Rhys

Completed

PhD

Full time

Co supervisor

OPTIMISATION OF POSITRON EMISSION TOMOGRAPHY BASED TARGET VOLUME DELINEATION IN HEAD AND NECK RADIOTHERAPY

BERTHON Beatrice

Completed

PhD

Full time

Co supervisor