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(MCRC Non-Clinical) Range verification in proton beam therapy through prompt gamma-ray imaging

Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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Dr M Taylor , Prof R Mackay No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

High-energy proton beam therapy (PBT) has the potential to increase survival and reduce late effects in cancers where there is a substantial unmet need. The beauty of protons over conventional X-rays is that they “stop” within the body, however, to within a good degree of accuracy we don’t know where! As protons deposit most of their energy, doing maximum damage, at the end of their range, where there is also the greatest uncertainty in the biological effect, any uncertainty in the proton beam range can have serious clinical consequences. The full potential of proton beam therapy, particularly when there are organs-at-risk in the vicinity of the tumour, cannot be exploited unless these uncertainties are reduced or mitigated. Making treatment plans robust against range uncertainty has a major clinical impact due to the compromises imposed, which can result in additional dose to the patient. Reducing the range uncertainty in proton beam therapy is, therefore, highly desirable, even more so as we possibly move towards high-dose and high-dose-rate (FLASH) therapy.

One possible method of determining proton range is through the detection of the prompt gamma-rays that are emitted naturally during therapy. It has been shown experimentally that the intensity of the gamma-rays emitted during proton beam therapy correlate well with the Bragg peak and end-of-range. Thus, by detecting these prompt gamma-rays and determining their origin the proton beam range could be established. This project aims to develop a clinical prompt gamma-ray detection system based on LaBr3 scintillation detector technology. Building on the novel 3D gamma-ray reconstruction algorithm, developed in-house, a prototype multi-detector system will be built and tested in the Manchester proton beam therapy research facility. The performance of the system will be investigated in a near-to clinical environment.

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

Interview date – 8 January 2021

Funding Notes

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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