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(MCRC Non-Clinical RadNet) Transforming Radiotherapy in a Flash

Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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Prof K Kirkby , Prof Neil Burnet , Dr M Merchant , Dr A Chadwick No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The success of radiotherapy (RT) in eradicating tumours depends chiefly on the total radiation dose, with higher doses curing more cancers. However, all RT treatments deliver some ‘collateral dose (damage)’ to normal tissues around the target. This results in every patient treated for cancer experiencing side-effects. These can be short term or can last indefinitely. As cancer has become much more treatable, helping patients to live with and beyond cancer is becoming increasingly important: and this means reducing the side-effects they experience due to their treatment.

Flash RT has the potential to provide a disruptive change in the way we deliver RT by significantly reducing these side-effects. By Flash we mean delivering the radiation dose in less than a tenth of a second. Worldwide interest in the transformative potential of Flash stems from experimental results, which show remarkable reductions in normal tissue damage without compromising the tumour kill. Because the normal tissue damage is significantly reduced we can potentially deliver more dose in each treatment, significantly reducing both the treatment time and the cost.

At the moment the way in which Flash works is largely unknown, some studies have linked it to local oxygen depletion during the radiation Flash. The Varian proton beam therapy (PBT) equipment installed in the Christie clinical PBT centre has the potential to deliver Flash. In addition, we have a dedicated research room in the Christie PBT centre. This gives us access to clinical proton Flash delivery. We also have a purpose built high-throughput hypoxia end-station which allows us explore the oxygen depletion hypotheses (and other mechanisms). This is the first time that anyone in the world has been able to do such experiments also offers the opportunity to undertake leading edge Flash research in a multidisciplinary team, using both wet lab and computational techniques.

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.

UK applicants interested in this project should make direct contact with the Primary Supervisor to arrange to discuss the project further as soon as possible. International applicants (including EU nationals) must ensure they meet the academic eligibility criteria (including English Language) as outlined before contacting potential supervisors to express an interest in their project. Eligibility can be checked via the University Country Specific information page (

If your country is not listed you must contact the Doctoral Academy Admissions Team providing a detailed CV (to include academic qualifications – stating degree classification(s) and dates awarded) and relevant transcripts.

Following the review of your qualifications and with support from potential supervisor(s), you will be informed whether you can submit a formal online application.

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 – 8 January 2021

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 in October 2021.
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