Peter Ferguson was already a qualified doctor when he undertook his a PhD with Dr Richard Tilley’s Nanoparticle and Quantum Dot Research Group. He studied at Otago University’s Dunedin School of Medicine and had been working for three years towards becoming a physician, when a talk about quantum dots caught his attention.
The talk, about silicon quantum dots, was given by Dr Tilley at the 1st annual Quantum Dot meeting in 2006. Peter was inspired to get involved with the exciting research he saw Dr Tilley doing – studying the various uses nanoparticles can have in biological systems - and working with The Malaghan Institute on its potential applications.
Dr Ferguson has since used magnetic nanoparticles, which were developed by Assoc Prof Richard Tilley and colleagues from SCPS using technologies such as NMR imaging and electron microscopy, to improve the contrast of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
MRI uses a powerful magnetic field and radio frequency pulses to provide an unparalleled view inside the human body. However, the technology does have its limitations, particularly when it comes to visualising very small tumours. Working in collaboration with Wellington Hospital, Dr Ferguson was able to show that the superior magnetic properties of the nanoparticles developed by Dr Tilley's team, significantly enhanced the utility of using MRI for a number of medical applications.
Dr Ferguson now works at Wellington Hospital. He continues to support the Malaghan Institute's cancer research programme in an advisory role as a Research Consultant.