Head: Thomas Bortfeld, PhD
Our overarching goal is to optimize cancer treatment by addressing some of the key challenges in Radiation Oncology. We aim to make a direct clinical and societal impact with our work. As a group of physicists and mathematicians we are not tied to the use of a particular method, but we identify and apply the right methods to address clinical challenges. We collaborate closely with the world’s leading experts in mathematical optimization, analytics and robotics.
Our current work focusses on three primary areas:
- Defining the clinical tumor target volume (CTV). With today’s high precision of treatment delivery thanks to advanced treatment techniques and image guidance, the definition of the CTV including its invisible microscopic extensions is becoming the weakest link of the radiotherapy chain. We are addressing this problem through auto segmentation of anatomic barrier structures, modeling the spread of the disease, and implementation of consensus guidelines.
- Optimized personalized treatment delivery. While there has been a long history of optimized individualized shaping of radiation dose distributions in radiation oncology, the individualization of the dose level has long been neglected. We are working on the mathematical aspects of identifying the right dose level and the right type of treatment for each patient, while respecting modeling and data uncertainty. The current focus is on the dynamic uncertainty-aware response assessment during the treatment course and optimal stopping or optimal switching to other treatment modalities.
- Democratizing proton therapy. Even though more than 15% of all radiotherapy patients are expected to benefit from the physical advantages of proton therapy, less than 1% actually receive this more expensive form of treatment. We are working on the science and engineering challenges to shrink its size and the cost, with the ultimate goal of making proton therapy fit into conventional treatment rooms at a cost similar to conventional treatments with linear accelerators.
We gratefully acknowledge support from RaySearch AB, Koninklijke Philips N.V. (Diagnosis and Treatment Division), the MGH Therapy Imaging Program (TIP), the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions of the European Commission, and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG (German Research Foundation).