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Introduction

There are five major research themes at the department of Radiation Oncology including Radiobiology, Intervention Radiotherapy, Medical Physics, High Precision Radiotherapy, and Clinical Outcome.

  • The Radiobiology theme is shared with the Genetic Department and two professors are doing research on DNA repair mechanism inhibition using targeted therapies or hyperthermia, Professor R. Kanaar and Professor C. Wyman. This group has discovered a unique mechanism of action of hyperthermia involving the inhibition of BRCA mediated homologous recombination, which could be further amplified using PARP inhibitors.
      
  • The Intervention Radiotherapy is a result of the fusion between the Hyperthermia and the Brachytherapy Units. Professor G. van Rhoon leads the research and M. Franckena-Schouten, MD, PhD, leads the clinical aspects. This program aims at developing real-time image guided minimally invasive Cancer Ablation Therapies (CATs), enabling treatment of the patient in a single session with minimal side effects. CATs includes brachytherapy, interstitial or external hyperthermia and radio-frequency ablations.
       
  • The Medical Physics department as several world-class scientists including Professor B. Heijmen, PhD, and M. Hoogeman, PhD. This department has developed several automated planning programs including iCycle, which generates objectively and automatically the best plan possible based on a wish-list of dosimetry objectives. Innovations in the field of adaptive radiotherapy include the plan of the day based on daily anatomy variation. New developments include 4D biology MR image guidance for several tumor sites and massive research efforts toward adaptive intensity modulated protontherapy (IMPT).
       
  • High Precision Radiotherapy includes several research programs, like the use of robotic radiosurgery for lung metastasis SBRT, or the treatment of liver metastasis and primary cancers. This program is currently expanding towards the treatment of oligometastasis and long-surviving palliative patients. This group includes a mix of clinicians investigators (J. Nuyttens, MD, PhD, A. Mendes-Romero, MD, PhD, I. de Pree, MD) and Medical Physicists (Professor B. Heijmen, PhD, M. Hoogeman, PhD, M. Dirkx, PhD).
      
  • The Clinical Research Unit is currently being formed. This unit will enable the collections of prospective patient's data using cohort including well-defined pathology, various treatment modalities and collecting highly specific endpoints (breast cardio-toxicity, head and neck oropharynx and vocal chord radiation toxicities, prostate patients reported quality of life outcome). The unit will also enable clinical trials, from Phase I to III, and prospective cohort multiple randomized trials. RenĂ© Vernhout is the manager of the Clinical Research Unit, and several staffs, therapists and nurses will work part-time for the unit.
      

The research supervision of the Department is provided by the Professors (Prs. Heijmen, Kanaar, van Rhoon, Wyman, Incrocci and Pignol). They form the Academic Advisory Board that meets quarterly and reviews the achievements, opportunities and potential barriers for research. They advise the department Chair on policies and actions to be taken. Research is mainly done by Master or PhD students, and post-doctoral fellows. Departmental guidelines for PhDs are available here