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The Canadian Organization of Medical Physicists Announces the Recipient of the 2022 Gold Medal Award

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The Canadian Organization of Medical Physicists (COMP) is pleased to announce that the recipient of the 2022 Gold Medal is Dr. Joanna Cygler.  The Gold Medal is the highest award given by COMP and recognizes an active or retired member who has worked mainly in Canada, has had an outstanding career, and has made a significant contribution to the field of medical physics in Canada. 
 
A significant contribution is defined as one or more of the following:
 
  • A body of work which has added to the knowledge base of medical physics in such a way as to fundamentally alter the practice of medical physics.
  • Leadership positions in medical physics organizations which have led to improvements in the status and public image of medical physicists in Canada
  • Significant influence on the professional development of the careers of medical physicists in Canada through educational activities or mentorship
Over a career that has spanned nearly 5 decades, Dr. Cygler has provided global leadership in radiation physics and has tirelessly trained a future generation of professionals to her exacting standards. Today she is considered a pioneer of critical medical physics technologies and a driving force behind efforts to enhance the recognition of medical physicists in the radiation oncology workplace. 
 
After starting her career as a research scientist in Poland, Dr. Cygler moved to Canada, and in 1984 became a research associate in the Medical Physics Department at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton. Since then, she has held increasingly senior positions in both research and academia and is currently the Senior Medical Physicist at the Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre.
 
As a lead of the radiation oncology physics residency program at Ottawa University, Dr. Cygler cultivated a reputation as an inspirational educator who worked tirelessly to ensure her students were armed with the knowledge required to excel in their careers.  With high standards for success, Dr. Cygler demanded excellence from her students, and provided excellent guidance in return. Her nurturing of the next generation didn’t end in the classroom; Dr. Cygler’s CV is full of the names of former residents that she has mentored, co-authored publications with and who have moved on to successful careers in medical physics.
 
While a distinguished teacher, Dr. Cygler is perhaps best known for her academic clinical practice which bridged the gap between clinical need and the development of technology and processes. Following the discovery of a serious error in computer generated dose distributions Dr. Cygler spearheaded an Ontario task force to create guidelines for the safe implementation of computer-based treatment planning systems. The work of this task force served as the provincial quality standard and was long recognized as international best practice. She has also developed and pioneered the use of many devices and software that are in regular use by medical physicists worldwide, including MOSFET detectors, OSL dosimetry systems, and electron MC. 
 
Dr. Cygler has been an active contributor to the international medical physics landscape, and through her leadership in IAEA, AAPM and ESTRO committees, training initiatives and task groups, has been impactful in improving the status and public image of Canadian medical physicists. In recognition of her accomplishments, she is one of only a very small number of Canadian physicists who have been appointed both as a fellow of COMP and a fellow of AAPM.
 
A ceremony recognizing Joanna Cygler, her achievements, and this honour, will be held at the COMP ASM on Friday June 24, 2022.

Published on June 6, 2022

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