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Medical physics of radiotherapy

Over the past 20 years, research and development in medical physics has improved the accuracy and conformity of radiotherapy tremendously. This includes the development of intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT and VMAT), which allows the delivery of highly conformal dose distributions to complex shaped tumors.

More recently, the development of image guided adaptive radiotherapy has provided means to correct for geometric changes and organ motion over the course of therapy. The medical physics group contributes to these technological advances of radiotherapy through both clinically applied and fundamental research projects. In collaboration with industry and radiation oncologists in our department, we work on the integration of new technologies into clinical practice.

In fundamental research we focus on two areas:

The use of radiological images to improve outcome prediction and target delineation in radiotherapy. We work on methods to automate and improve target delineation based on advanced imaging techniques such as MRI. In addition, we work on Radiomics, i.e. computational methods to derive imaging biomarkers that predict patient outcome and response to therapy.

Optimal fractionation in radiotherapy. In most cases, the total radiation dose is not delivered at once. Instead the total dose is divided into many fractions that are delivered over several days or weeks, which allows healthy tissues to recover and tolerate much higher doses. This concept is called fractionation. We work on computational methods to support fractionation decisions and optimize the delivery of radiation over time.