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Allocation

One post-doc researcher (physics)

University faculty : Sciences
Department : Physics
Grade : researcher
Contract : renewable one year fixed term contract
Category : scientific personnel
Allocation : External funds

Responsabilities

Context:

Proton therapy (PT) is a therapeutic modality for treating cancer, with a specific capacity to deliver radiation dose into the tumor while maximally sparing surrounding healthy organs, therefore leading to a better quality of treatments, a reduction of the side effects and globally an enhanced quality of life for the patients. While radiotherapy (RT) is involved today in about 50% of cancer treatments, less than 1% of these treatments are delivered through PT. Although it offers clinical advantages through superior dose distribution, reducing the risk of normal tissue damage and increasing the chances of cure thanks to dose escalation, PT is a costly new technology that comes with a high initial capital cost and operating expense. Today, PT is considered 5 times more expensive than conventional RT. Flash and Grid therapy may help to reduce, if not erase, the cost difference between PT and conventional RT. In addition to enhance cancer cell killing PT may also tune tumor microenvironment, for example by reprogramming tumor-associated macrophages. Flash therapy is based on the delivery of ultra-high dose rates requiring beam intensities that are several orders of magnitude higher than in conventional treatments. Grid therapy, on the other hand, consists in splitting the original clinical beam (photon or proton), using an engineered device or a devised method, to a set of smaller beams (“Beamlets”) equally spaced by a couple of mm. Both aim at sparing the upstream healthy tissues and open the doors towards hypofractionation. By adding Grid and Flash therapy to the current treatment modalities, Proton Therapy treatment room owners could treat up to 3000 patients year, 7 times more than with conventional radiation therapy machines (LINACS). This would result in making PT more affordable than RT while improving the treatment quality as sparing healthy tissues is further enhanced.

Work environment:

In this context, one position is available at Namur Research Institute for Life Sciences (NARILIS, LARN-URBC, UNamur) to work on proton irradiation as well as FLASH and GRID irradiations in close collaborations with IBA (worldwide leader in proton therapy technology, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium). Since 15 years, the NARILIS Radiobiology Team develops research projects focussed on the improvement of radiotherapeutic processes. The laboratory has a 2MV particle accelerator and a 225 kV X-ray irradiator as well as a full access to the NARILIS Institute's molecular and cellular biology laboratories.

Job position:

For this job position, we are looking for highly motivated researchers who can work in transdisciplinary team composed of biologists, physicists, chemists and engineers. These works are funded by the Walloon Region and have the potential to revolutionise the fight against cancer using radiotherapy.

Profile

Skills/Qualifications:

  • Holder of a PhD degree in physics,
  • Good knowledge of cell bioassays and experience in cell culture,
  • Experienced on other irradiation facilities,
  • Good knowledge in programming (C ++, Geant4, Geant4-DNA, Fortran, Matlab),
  • Fluent in English or French,
  • Rigorous, analytical, pragmatic, results-oriented, autonomous, quickly adaptable with a strong organizational and relational capacity,
  • Good knowledge of radiation interaction with matter.

Specific requirements:

Will participate in the accelerator development in close collaboration with the scientists and engineers on the project. The impact of various physical parameters on the beam quality will be studied in the context of flash irradiation. Will perform radiobiological experiments to investigate the potential benefit of flash compared to conventional irradiation on carcinoma cell lines. This part will be performed in close collaboration with biology department. Will perform simulations to unravel the mechanisms responsible for the in vitro observed effects.

Additional information

Prof. Anne-Catherine Heuskin, LARN laboratory Tel: 081 / 72.54.77 - Email: anne-catherine.heuskin@unamur.be.

Remarks

Contract: 1 year contract, renewable (2 years total).

The application, consisting of a CV, a motivation letter and the contact details of two reference persons, must be sent to Prof. Anne-Catherine Heuskin, e-mail: anne-catherine.heuskin@unamur.be by September 30th 2021 at the latest.