Global Challenge Network+ in Advanced Radiotherapy

The "Global Challenge Network+ in Advanced Radiotherapy" has been awarded to the University of Manchester, funded as an STFC Futures award.

Principal Investigator:

  • Professor Karen Kirkby; The University of Manchester Medical and Human Sciences


  • Dr Hywel Owen; The University of Manchester Physics and Astronomy
  • Dr Martin Turner; The University of Manchester Research Computing Services / SCD STFC
  • Dr Ranald Iain MacKay; Christie NHS Foundation Trust North Western Medical Physics
  • Professor Neil Burnet; University of Cambridge Oncology
  • Professor Philip Allport; University of Birmingham School of Physics and Astronomy
  • Dr Spyros Manolopoulos; University of Birmingham School of Physics and Astronomy
  • Dr John Lees; University of Leicester Physics and Astronomy
  • Dr Michael Merchant; The University of Manchester Medical and Human Sciences


In the UK one in two people are diagnosed with cancer during their lifetimes and of those who survive 40% can attribute their cure to treatment including radiotherapy. After surgery, radiotherapy is the most effective cure for cancer in the UK. The basic tenet of radiotherapy is to maximise the damage to the tumour (to sterilise it) while minimising the damage to the surrounding healthy tissue (to reduce side effects). In recent years radiotherapy has developed rapidly with the development of new machines and methodologies. These in turn, have resulted in better imaging, treatment planning and dosimetry, which enable the dose to be more accurately delivered and conformed to the tumour. They have also thrown up a range of interesting new challenges and issues all of which require innovation and solutions. This is exactly where the STFC community could make an enormous impact as they have exactly the skill set which is needed to effectively tackle the new challenges as they arise. This also brings in the expertise from CERN, which could prove invaluable for overcoming some of the imaging challenges in radiotherapy. In addition, the latest developments in radiotherapy - such as MR-linacs and proton therapy - evidence the need for the community to work together with commercial partners. If the UK is to remain competitive and deliver even better treatments for patients, and produce income and impact for the UK economy, it can no longer rely on serendipitous partnerships. This is what this Global Challenge Network+ in Advanced Radiotherapy seeks to address. This Network is aimed at creating a paradigm shift in the way in which radiotherapy research is undertaken and will create a pipeline, which directly translates into patient benefit and quality of life. It will catalyse new multidisciplinary partnerships between the clinical and STFC communities and provide radical and innovative solutions, which draw on the strengths and knowledge of the individual disciplines and weave them together to transcend traditional discipline boundaries, with the sum being greater than the constituent parts.

This is a particularly exciting time to launch this network, with the NHS investment of 250m into two new centres for proton therapy at the Christie Hospital in Manchester and University College London Hospital in London and the recent funding by HEFCE of the Institute for Precision Cancer Medicine in Oxford. These clinical developments should act as a launch pad for multidisciplinary research collaborations in radiotherapy and develop strong links between the clinical and academic communities in STFC laboratories and universities.

This Network will bring together cancer clinicians, clinical scientists and researchers from the biosciences with researchers from the STFC community in areas as diverse as particle and astrophysics, nuclear science, accelerator science, imaging, computational science and detectors to develop a research pipeline and contribute to a coordinated national plan and roadmap for advanced radiotherapy research across the UK. This is particularly timely and will strengthen the links between clinical radiotherapy and STFC scientists in both national laboratories and universities and is aligned with STFC Futures Programme, in particular the Healthcare Theme.

This Global Challenge Network+ in Advanced Radiotherapy aims to work in partnership with the National Cancer Research Institute CTRad (Clinical and Translational Radiotherapy Research Working Group) engage the wider STFC funded capability (to encompass nuclear physics, particle physics and astronomy) in both the STFC national laboratories (ALICE, DIAMOND, ISIS, VELA/CLARA) and universities and to draw on the STFC experience and expertise within them. In doing so it aims to engage across the remit of STFC activities and aid their translation into the clinical environment

News Items

Guardian article:

Tweet on CTRad:


Kickoff Meeting: Wednesday 23 September 2015

-- MartinTurner - 27 Jul 2015

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Topic revision: r5 - 23 Sep 2015 - MartinTurner
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