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(MCRC Non-Clincal RadNet) Hypoxia Driven Adaptive Proton Therapy (HD-APT)

   Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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  Dr M Merchant, Dr Andrew McPartlin, Prof K Kirkby, Prof R Mackay  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Tumour hypoxia is recognised as one key factor influencing clinical outcomes following Radiotherapy (RT). Hypoxic cells are 2.5 to 3 times more resistant to radiation than oxygenated cells. There is currently no established methodology in RT for specific treatment of tumours with hypoxia.

Spot-scanning proton beam therapy (PBT) has the technological capability to precisely target dose to hypoxic tumour regions, however, the imaging technologies required to provide spatial information, “hypoxia maps” of the tumour, have not been realised in the proton therapy planning process, and no current strategy exists for adaptive PBT planning driven by hypoxia imaging.

There is currently an unmet clinical need for a spatially accurate method of hypoxia identification which can be performed using widely available imaging technology.

 FMISO-PET is demonstrated to have the capability to provide functional spatial imaging of the patient which correlates with tumour hypoxia. Several retrospective in silico planning studies in conventional radiotherapy have demonstrated the potential for dose escalation to hypoxic subvolumes based on PET imaging, and phase 2 clinical trials for dose escalation have reported improved loco-regional control in a small number of patients. However cost and limited imaging capacity have prevented the use of FMISO-PET outside small research studies in larger academic centres. Oxygen-enhanced and Intravoxel Incoherent Motion (IVIM) assessment MRI sequences are exciting possibilities that may fulfil these requirements. Early clinical work has suggested an ability to identify hypoxia accurately but validation studies are required.

This project will pursue a multimodal approach, alongside standard CT and MR imaging to provide this validation and evaluate the integration of spatial hypoxia imaging technologies with proton therapy planning in head and neck cancer.

Dr Michael Merchant

Entry Requirements

Candidates must hold, or be about to obtain, a minimum upper second class (or equivalent) undergraduate degree in a relevant subject. A related master’s degree would be an advantage.

Applicants interested in this project should make direct contact with the Primary Supervisor to arrange to discuss the project further as soon as possible. 

How to Apply

To be considered for this project you MUST submit a formal online application form - full details on how to apply can be found on the CRUK Manchester Centre PhD Training Scheme (MCRC) website

General enquiries can be directed to [Email Address Removed].

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website

The CRUK RadNet Manchester Unit was one of only three major units awarded. It builds on the 10-year history of an external collaborating “One Manchester” approach to cancer team science in radiotherapy-related research (RRR). This has been achieved by our multi-disciplinary expertise in biology, clinical oncology, physics, software development, engineering and imaging. Manchester is recognised nationally as a Clinical and Translational Radiotherapy Research Working Group (CTRad) Centre of Excellence in Radiotherapy Research and the only centre in the UK with strength across all disciplines (biology, clinical, physics, technology).

The CRUK RadNet Manchester Unit Vision statement is: “As an integrated world-leading translational radiation oncology programme, we address the challenges of diverse patient characteristics to achieve individualised physical and biological targeting based on real-time outcomes and a deep mechanistic understanding of immune response, comorbidity and genomics.” This Vision aligns with CRUK’s research strategy through Collaborative Hubs and new science.

Interview date – WB 4 April 2022

Funding Notes

This project is funded via CRUK RadNet Manchester. Funding will cover UK tuition fees/stipend only (currently at £19,000 per annum) and running expenses. The University of Manchester aims to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK. We are able to offer a limited number of bursaries that will enable a limited number of full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme.
The duration of this project is four years to commence on 1 October 2022.


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