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(MRC DTP) Closing the loop: pathway to biologically optimised proton therapy  

   Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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  Prof K Kirkby, Dr M Merchant, Dr A Chadwick, Prof Norman Kirkby  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Proton Beam Therapy (PBT) is a radically new type of radiotherapy that has the potential to improve the precision and targeting of RT leading to fewer side effects, faster recovery and better outcomes for patients. It also has the potential to target radio-resistant hypoxic tumours and other tumours that are difficult to treat by more conventional means.

NHS England are investing £250M in two new PBT treatment centres (in London and Manchester), the first of which (at the Christie) will open in August 2018. The Christie Clinical PBT Centre has three state of the art 360 gantry rooms, with pencil beam spot scanning, for clinical PBT treatment and the fourth room, of equal size, for research. The infrastructure and equipment in the PBT research room is funded by The Christie Charity (~£6.4M).

This study is aimed at using this new research capability in combination with existing simulation techniques to answer one of the key challenges for proton therapy namely: what is the biological effect of protons and how can this information be used clinically? The project will involve identification of key experimental end-points, design, execution and analysis of experiments to validate mathematical models of proton biological effect. Through analysis of experimental data, the student will contribute to the conceptual development of these models. This will enable the direct determination and validation of fundamental unique nano-dosimetric parameters, which are directly linked to the underlying biology of proton-tissue interactions. The study could ultimately lead to an international standard of biological effectiveness that could be used clinically worldwide.

Funding Notes

This project is to be funded under the MRC Doctoral Training Partnership. If you are interested in this project, please make direct contact with the Principal Supervisor to arrange to discuss the project further as soon as possible. You MUST also submit an online application form - full details on how to apply can be found on the MRC DTP website

Applications are invited from UK/EU nationals only. Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject.


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3. Powell, J. J. et al. An endogenous nanomineral chaperones luminal antigen and peptidoglycan to intestinal immune cells. Nat Nano 10, 361–369 (2015).
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