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FLASH VHEE Radiotherapy Machine System Design


   Cockcroft Institute

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  Prof Roger M. Jones  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

FLASH-RT entails delivering a high dose over a sub-second timescale and there have been experiments on animals which indicate cancerous regions suffer lethal damage whereas healthy tissues show little impairment. There has also been a recent publication on the first patient receiving such treatment with a dose rate of 15 Gy per 90 ms. FLASH-RT was shown to reproducibly spare normal tissues, while preserving the anti-tumor activity. This marked increase of the differential effect between normal tissues and tumors prompted its clinical translation. To achieve these dose rates conventional machines have been modified –and of course the delivery is far from optimal. We plan to investigate an optimised overall system design to achieve high dose rate within a large tissue field. This work will build on the VHEE machine design and make the substantial modifications necessary for FLASH delivery of radiotherapy.

Focusing, scanning and delivery of high dose rates with electrons will be the aim of this project –with an emphasis on beam dynamics and RF design of the linac through to the overall system. We have already shown electrons to be readily focused, steered, and to be insensitive to inhomogeneities and hence they are ideal for FLASH-RT. This research, will entail assessing the prospects for a robust machine design –entailing a moderate (with a view to a conservative reliable operation) gradient linac, RF source, magnets, and overall controls. 

The CLARA facility at Daresbury Laboratory (DL) provides a unique facility to provide groundbreaking experiments in this area. We anticipate experiments on VELA/CLARA to verify the feasibility of the machine design. In addition to the work at DL, strong connections have been established with CERN’s CLEAR team (on the 250 MeV user facility), and we will investigate further experiments on high dose rate.

Initially, the student will work with ASTeC staff on VELA/CLARA Phase 1 and beyond which provides a 50 MeV beam. This will serve as a guide, and will be essential to later work on the 250 MeV beam of CLARA (expected in 2024 and is well-aligned with the studentship).  

This Ph.D. project will have analytical, simulation, and experimental aspects. It necessarily entails both mathematical physics and RF accelerator physics. Some key points of FLASH VHEE include: an energy range of 50 – 250 MeV with doses of 20 – 100 Gy delivered over sub-second timescales. Simulations will be conducted with RF codes such as HFSS/CST, and with particle tracking codes such as GPT, and dose delivery with Topas/Geant IV–in order to fully explore the practicalities of a robust FLASH-RT VHEE system design. It has been postulated by clinicians that FLASH-RT may be employed treat patients in the near future and it is of course essential to have a robust machine for this. Strong collaborative aspects are also anticipated.

Contact: Prof. R.M. Jones ([Email Address Removed]) to discuss informally.

The applicant will be expected to have a first or upper second class degree in physics or other appropriate qualification. Experience in radio frequency accelerators is desirable but not essential, as is experience in accelerator and computational physics. A full graduate programme of training and development is provided by the Cockcroft Institute. The student will be based either at the Cockcroft Institute or at the University of Manchester. It is anticipated that there will be analytical, simulation and experimental aspects to this work.

Potential applicants are encouraged to contact: Prof. R.M. Jones ([Email Address Removed]) for more information and for an informal discussion. This position will remain open until filled.

 Funding and eligibility: Upon acceptance of a student, this project will be funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) for 3.5 years; UK and other EU citizens are eligible to apply. A full package of training and support will be provided by the Cockcroft Institute, and the student will take part in a vibrant accelerator research and education community of over 150 people. An IELTS score of at least 6.5 is required.

Contact for further information: [Email Address Removed]

How to apply: http://www.cockcroft.ac.uk/join-us

Anticipated Start Date: October 2022 for 3.5 Years

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