Particle Beam Therapy

John Eley, Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Maryland School of Medicine
Matthias K. Gobbert, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, UMBC

Radiation treatment for cancer has changed rapidly in the past decades, with some of the greatest breakthroughs occurring in digital imaging, robotic beam-delivery systems, and high-energy particle accelerators, all of which rely heavily on parallel computing to plan radiation beams for millimeter-precision cancer treatment. Virtual studies are an effective way to screen and test ideas that could not be tested directly in patients and also to minimize the use of animals in early stage research.  Accurate radiation-transport simulations that realistically consider the fundamental interactions of particles in matter and consider the anatomy of patients or animals can be extremely computationally expensive and, thus, benefit from large-scale, parallel computing architectures. The newly constructed Maryland Proton Treatment Center in Baltimore will be one of the first centers in the US to offer scanned-beam proton beam therapy, using magnetic fields to sweep particle beams pre cisely across cancer targets and to deliver cancer-sterilizing doses of radiation.  The overall scope of our research focuses on the design and development of new treatment strategies for cancer using scanned particle beams.  One major objective is to develop irradiation schemes appropriate for moving lung tumors, where the beam must be optimized to mitigate tissue-motion effects.  Another major objective is to better understand the microscopic properties of energy deposition from protons and light ions and their relation to observed biological effects on irradiate tissue, such as cell inactivation or transformation.