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PhD Defense | Anna Bianchi | Microdosimetry of therapeutic proton beams | UHasselt

29 September '21

Name: Anna Bianchi

Date: September 29, 2021 - 14h30 CET

Location: UHasselt, Diepenbeek campus, building D, room A102  or online at the link 

Microdosimetry of therapeutic proton beams

All kinds of radiotherapy treatments aim to deliver the maximum dose of radiation to the tumour cells while sparing the surrounding healthy tissues as much as possible. However, there are many cases of conventional radiotherapy where it is not possible to avoid the irradiation of critical organs surrounding the tumour. In order to overcome these physical limitations, the use of accelerated protons for treatments has increased enormously in the last few decades due to their more selective dose deposition (Bragg peak) and lesser lateral spread.

For clinical applications using proton beams, a fixed relative biological effectiveness (RBE) of 1.1 is used to account for differences in the efficiency in inducing lethal lesions to cells between protons and photons. However, due to the dependence of RBE on the linear energy transfer (LET) which increases with decreasing energy of the primary particles, the radiation quality of proton beams can vary within the depth of the irradiated volume. Therefore, a complete characterization of the proton beam radiation quality in terms of measurable physical properties is necessary for improving treatment plans.

It is also known that the biological damage is correlated to the energy imparted at the subcellular level. An indicated approach to measure the energy imparted at the cell level is microdosimetry. Microdosimetry consists of a systematic study of the spatial and temporal distributions of the single energy deposition events at the microscopic level. Variations of the radiation quality can be quantified with microdosimetric measurements performed with tissue­equivalent gas proportional counters (TEPC). TEPCs are the reference devices in experimental microdosimetry for characterizing the radiation quality in radiation protection and radiotherapy environments.

A novel microdosimeter optimized for the clinical environment will be constructed in collaboration with other laboratories. This new mini TEPC will be developed with the aim that it can be practically used in hospitals to characterize the radiation quality of proton beams


  • Brigitte Reniers (UHasselt)

SCK CEN mentors:

  • Filip Vanhavere (SCK CEN)

  • Alessio Parisi (SCK CEN)

Click here for a list of obtained PhD degrees.

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