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Feasibility of a MRI guided proton radiotherapy

The Project
Radiotherapy aims to cure cancer patients by destroying the tumour tissue with ionising radiation. High precision irradiation requires daily, real-time imaging of the tumour. MRI offers the best available soft-tissue contrast imaging for treatment guidance. For external beam photon therapy the UMC Utrecht has, together with Elekta and Philips, constructed the world's first radiotherapy system integrated with a 1.5 T MRI scanner. This system can deliver radiation with mm accuracy while the target is visualised by MRI. In principle proton therapy may outperform photon therapy. However, only if proton therapy also has become MRI guided. We want to extent the application of MRI guidance to proton therapy. This project concerns the technical feasibility of such hybrid MRI proton therapy system.

For this project we are looking for an enthusiastic PhD-student with affinity for computational physics (e.g. Monte Carlo modeling) as well as radiotherapy physics (e.g. hardware and treatment planning).

MRI guided proton therapy system
Currently there exists no hybrid MRI proton therapy system. This project will address the technical options for such integration such as the mutual magnetic interference and beam transport, this will be done in collaboration with our industrial partners. Also the impact of the magnetic field on the dose distribution needs to be addressed as the proton therapy beam itself is already deflected by the magnetic field, this will involve Monte Carlo simulations. MRI sequences must be developed to quantify the exact depth of the Bragg peak in real time and investigate the impact of both intra- and inter-fraction anatomical motion.
Another more clinical topic is to quantify the potential benefit of MRI guided proton therapy by simulations of such treatment on a variety of patients within our MRI data base.
Together this should lead to a conceptual design of a hybrid MRI proton therapy system.

The Department
The Department of Radiotherapy of the University Medical Center Utrecht is part of the graduate school of Life Sciences of the Utrecht University and presents itself at

We are looking for a PhD student (biomedical) physics, computational physics, computer science or alike to work on this project. If you are interested, you are invited to send a resume and brief explanation about your interest. Also for more information please contact: Dr. B.W. Raaymakers