ESR 6: Advanced optimisation strategies for hyperthermia combined with radiotherapy

PhD research

Host: Dr. H. Petra Kok

Recruiting organisation: Amsterdam University Medical centers, location AMC, Department of Radiation Oncology, Meibergdreef 9, 1105AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Duration: 48 months

Background

Hyperthermia is heating of tumors to 40-43°C and is applied clinically to improve the effectiveness of radiotherapy. Hyperthermia of deep seated tumors is performed using an array of radiofrequent antennas positioned around the patient directing heating onto the location of the tumor target region. Presently, separate treatment plans are used for both hyperthermia and radiotherapy. Hyperthermia treatment planning aims at predicting the absorbed power and resulting temperature distributions, and recently also on arriving at clinical effectiveness predictions by incorporating the complex sensitizing interactions with radiotherapy. Achieving optimal hyperthermia treatment prescriptions is challenging due to the heterogeneous RF absorption distributions in patient anatomies, as well as the heterogeneous heat removal associated with blood flow and tissue perfusion which may change significantly during the 60 minute hyperthermia treatment sessions.

Approach 

The PhD candidate will develop reliable multi-objective optimization strategies for the combined treatment to achieve optimal tumor response while sparing normal tissue. This starts with a basic approach and then moving to increasing complexity to fully exploit the direct, the synergistic and the complementary actions of hyperthermia combined with radiotherapy based on the mathematical relations describing this complex dynamic interaction. The approach will start with idealized homogeneous and realistic heterogeneous anatomies and end with dynamic online re-optimization during HT treatment where different forms and amounts of temperature feedback data during treatment will be available. The PhD candidate will gain profound knowledge of the physics of state-of-the-art phased array radiofrequent hyperthermia systems and treatment planning, and will have access to clinical treatment data at our hospital and other hospitals in the Hyperboost network, and finally integrate these in sophisticated clinical treatment optimization strategies.

Our research team

The AMC is a leading institute on clinical, pre-clinical and technical research on hyperthermia combined with radiotherapy or chemotherapy. The PI for this project is widely acknowledged as leading expert in advanced hyperthermia treatment planning. The multidisciplinary research team further includes experts on clinical radiotherapy and hyperthermia, hyperthermia and radiotherapy physics and biology. The department has a hyperthermia unit for deep-seated tumors as well as units for other tumor locations, part of which were in-house developed and constructed. Sophisticated in-house developed hyperthermia treatment planning software includes Plan2Heat for HT planning and X-Term for integrated RT+HT treatment planning. The department of Radiotherapy of Amsterdam UMC also includes 15 linear accelerators, including six Varian Ethos linacs and two MR-guided Viewray linacs, CT, PET-CT, MR and radiobiology facilities housed at the four different Radiotherapy locations of Amsterdam UMC.

Your experience

  • Candidates should have a Master’s degree in physics or a related background. 
  • Excellent analytical and communicative skills
  • Ability to work within a multidisciplinary research group
  • Excellent higher education track record and strong scientific curiosity.
  • Fluent spoken and written English skills

In addition, the following experience would be helpful, but not essential:

  • Practical experience with mathematical and numerical models in computer simulations and advanced programming in C/C++

We seek a highly motivated scientist who enjoys an interdisciplinary environment and an interdisciplinary project, able to work independently but also as part of a team. The research project should result in a PhD thesis.

Our offer

This 4-year PhD position is funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions of the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 955625.  You will be appointed as fulltime PhD for 4 years with Amsterdam University Medical Centers, location AMC, and part of the University of Amsterdam. The Marie Skłodowska-Curie (MSCA) programme offers a highly competitive and attractive salary and working conditions. The successful candidates will receive a salary in accordance with the MSCA regulations for early stage researchers. Exact salary will be confirmed upon appointment [Living Allowance = €37.320/year (correction factor to be applied per country) + Monthly mobility allowance = €600. An additional monthly allowance of €500 is applicable depending on family situation. In addition to their individual scientific projects, all fellows will benefit from further continuing education, which includes internships and secondments, a variety of training modules as well as transferable skills courses and active participation in workshops and conferences.

Your application

See recruitment procedure. You can apply using the online application form. For more information about the position you can contact the PI Dr. Petra Kok (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or the mentor Dr. Hans Crezee (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) at +31 (0)20 56 64231. [name PI incl link hyperboost website] (email, phone).

Amsterdam University Medical centers, location AMC

The AMC is one of the largest hospitals and foremost research institutions in the Netherlands with over 8000 employees, and part of the University of Amsterdam. Some 1500 staff members are fully or partially employed in medical research. Oncology, one of the 8 research themes of AMC, is embedded in the Cancer Center Amsterdam, one of the largest European cancer research institutes, established jointly by AMC and Free University Medical Center in 2016. The AMC houses high quality core facilities including an animal house, lab for Genome Analysis and Oncogenomics, Cell sorting, Van Leeuwenhoek Center for Advanced Microscopy, In vivo optical imaging, Proteomics facility, Metabolomics facility, Biobanking.