PhD Position - Adaptive Cost Effective Proton Therapy (Accept) for the Treatment of Lung Tumors KU Leuven Laboratory of Experimental Radiotherapy Belgium



The Laboratory of Experimental Radiotherapy, together with the clinical Department of Radiation Oncology, has a long standing tradition and established track record in both translational and clinical research. This fits perfectly with the mission of the Leuven Cancer Institute (LKI), in which these entities are imbedded. In LKI, cancer researchers, cancer specialists and care providers unite their expertise and experience in the fight against cancer. LKI combines and integrates research, therapy and care to boost interaction between these domains. Hence, advances in basic science can easily be translated into innovative approaches in clinical practice. In September 2016 the construction of the Particle Therapy Interuniversity Center Leuven (ParTICLe) was initiated. The center, which will be equipped with one clinical vault and one experimental vault, will be operational autumn 2019 and will be the first proton therapy center in Belgium.



External beam radiotherapy aims at delivering a curative dose to tumours while safeguarding surrounding healthy tissues. In the lung, this objective is challenged by the close presence of critical organs and breathing motion. Protons display appealing features to help reaching that goal: they show a reduced dose before a steep rise immediately followed by a sharp fall-off (the so-called “Bragg-peak”). However, the precision of the Bragg peak yields its major challenge: any uncertainty on its position may cause dramatic tumour/organs-at-risk under/over-exposure. This concerns particularly the tumours of the thorax because of the motion and the density variations. Treatment plans can be made robust to these uncertainties, inevitably with an increase of high-dose volumes. Treatment plans can also be continuously adapted to the actual anatomy, i.e. online adaptation. Unfortunately, online adaptation is workflow demanding and has a cost. This project aims at optimizing the trade-off between both aspects.

The adaptation rate strongly depends on the degree of robustness of the treatment plan (the more robust the plan, the less the number of adaptations needed). The project will aim at studying the link between robustness parameters and the adaptation rate, and find the best compromise between both aspects depending on scenarios reflecting varying technological status (i.e. level of automation and speed of adaptive workflows) and practical considerations (i.e. what is the cost of the time lost to perform an adaptation). At the end of the PhD, the candidate will have a comprehensive conceptual and technical understanding of the most relevant issues related to proton therapy.

Patients treated in the first Belgian proton therapy centre ParTICLe will benefit from the adaptive strategy that is being developed by KU Leuven and its partners. The results of the project AcCEPT are indispensable to rationalize this adaptive workflow for lung tumours, in ParTICLe and other proton therapy centers adopting it. 
The funding of the PhD is secured for a duration of 4 years through the Foundation against Cancer


  • Enjoy scientific programming
  • Average to good skills in oral and written English.
  • Medical physicists and engineers are preferred



  • An enthusiastic multidisciplinary environment on the KU Leuven Gasthuisberg campus, in a state-of-the-art technological platform that includes a PT treatment unit (Proteus-One IBA) associated with multiple imaging modalities in the treatment room (on-board CBCT and CT on rails).
  • A forefront research project linked to the first Belgian proton therapy center (first patient expected in 2019)
  • A project in a hot topic that will ultimately lead to publications with high impact.
  • Technical and administrative support for performing several routine calculations expected in the project.



If you are interested, please send your CV, a motivation letter and a recommendation letter using the application website. 

Information can also be directly asked to the promoter of the present project,Professor Edmond Sterpin. (

You can apply for this job no later than May 01, 2019 via the online application tool

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

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