Proton therapy is the most rapidly-expanding method of radiotherapy, with a number of new proton treatment centres being established around world that are primarily based on high-intensity isochronous cyclotrons; an example of this is the recently-installed 250 MeV Varian cyclotron at which a research beamline has been installed where Dr. Owen and Dr. Appleby are carrying out research into rapid beam delivery.
Although proton therapy is now well-established clinically with over 100 treatment rooms presently in operation, their beam delivery systems are limited in terms of the speed they can vary the treatment depth in the patient. Future rapid treatments will need a full range of depths to be achieved ideally in less than a second, faster than conventional magnet systems can vary. New magnetic focusing schemes pioneered by Drs. Sheehy, Owen and Appleby have shown the potential of so-called FFA (Fixed-Field Accelerator); a carefully-tailored magnet array can avoid the need to vary the magnetic field during treatment delivery whilst maintaining a large depth range that can be delivered at the patient. Coupled to new, more intense particle sources this technology is needed to deliver the next generation of fast proton treatments; moreover, there are recent indications that these rapid (so-called FLASH) treatments may also deliver groundbreaking treatment advantages for the patient.
Our design will be informed by the significant experience of the supervisors, who have all worked extensively on FFA systems that include the PAMELA medical FFA project. Our current work with the CBETA FFA project gives us hands-on experience with an operating FFA system, and we are working with several commercial partners to develop their technologies in other areas too.
Travel funds will be used to facilitate visits to the UK to gain experience at existing proton therapy centres, and to augment the student’s experience through working with other researchers in the Cockcroft Institute and our collaborating partners, who carry out a large programme of related projects in medical accelerators.
A minimum of a 2i class UK Masters honours degree or international equivalent is required. Or a first degree with an additional Masters degree or international equivalent.