Elly Castellano is a BIR trustee. Find out more about her role and her motivation for her work in these ten questions.
1. Tell us about your role at the Royal Marsden Hospital and what it involves
I am Head of the diagnostic radiology physics group, leading a fantastic team of physics and admin staff. We provide medical physics services: equipment quality assurance, patient dosimetry, radiation dose optimisation, radiation safety and research ethics support to several departments in our own hospital and in the Royal Brompton Hospital next door, amongst others.
2. Why did you embark on a career in healthcare?
I wanted to study medicine as a child but I don’t function well without sleep. As a teenager I was fascinated by physics and decided to study it at degree level. As I approached finals I discovered medical physics and enrolled in a medical physics MSc course. I was instantly hooked.
3. You have been a BIR member since 1991. Why did you join and how has the BIR supported you?
It’s a long time ago! I suspect I joined to get a discount on the fee for a scientific conference. BIR has given me the opportunity to present my scientific work to multidisciplinary audiences both through conferences and publishing inBJR. I have also had the chance to hone my skills as a teacher of radiology physics to non-physicists. I have enjoyed many multi-disciplinary meetings and picked up a lot of the clinical know-how that is essential today for my role as a medical physics expert.
4. How would you describe the BIR (in one sentence)?
A society that promotes best practice in radiology and oncology by bringing together radiation specialists in healthcare.
5. What skills and qualities will you bring to the BIR Council?
I was a trustee for my professional body for 2 years, so I have some understanding of what the BIR Council and the BIR membership expect from me. I am a problem solver, and I am not afraid to question accepted wisdoms in order to find the best possible solution. I am able to listen objectively to different viewpoints and find a common way forward even though it may not be my preferred option.
6. What would you like to see achieved by the BIR in the next 10 years?
I would like the BIR to have online educational programmes for radiologists, oncologists, radiographers and physicists which are used throughout the world. I would also like the BIR to help bring together academic and clinical scientists, clinicians, radiographers and industrial partners so that effective, sustainable research collaborations can be set up.
7. What is your proudest achievement at: a) work and b) outside of work?
At work: optimising CT scan protocols with my radiology colleagues. Sometimes it takes 10 minutes, sometimes 2 years, but it is always immensely rewarding.
Outside work: cycling up Mont Ventoux in Provence carrying a picnic lunch (to the horror of all serious road cyclists).
8. Who has been the biggest influence on you during your career?
I have the privilege to work with amazing people, so it’s hard to pin it down to one person. I will instead suggest a multidisciplinary team! A radiographer, Dee Mears, for her awe-inspiring insight into CT imaging physics and her generosity in sharing it. A radiologist, Mike Rubens, for making a junior physicist welcome despite there being a good chance she would break the one CT scanner, and for chairing fun radiation protection committee meetings. Finally, two physicists: David Dance and Phil Evans, two seriously clever people that I learnt never to argue physics with.
9. What is the most difficult part of your job?
Persuading interventionalists to wear their PPE.
10. What might we be surprised to know about you?
I had my first chest X-ray when I was 1 day old – direct exposure film, autographed by the radiographer, no collimation marks in sight.