Giulia Aricò - I am and I will

I am Giulia Aricò, an Italian researcher working in the field of medical physics since several years. I obtained a Master in Experimental Physics, major in Biological and Medical Physics, at the University of Trento in 2012. I carried out my Master thesis at the Proton Therapy department of the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Switzerland, where I calibrated the new computed tomography (CT) on-rails scanner mounted in Gantry 2 for patient positioning and dose evaluation.

Being fascinated by the field of hadron therapy, and being eager to explore the state-of-the-art of such technique, in 2012 I applied for a PhD position at the Heidelberg University Hospital in Germany. During my PhD work, I investigated the fragmentation of helium and carbon ions in materials of interest for medical applications. I designed a new experimental setup and investigation method based on the Timepix detectors developed by the Medipix2 collaboration at CERN. With respect to the setups standardly used for ion fragmentation studies, based on time-of-flight measurements, the new experimental setup is much smaller and compact (about 25 cm instead of some meter) and allows analysis of single ion fragmentation. I was awarded a PhD degree (Dr. rer. nat) from the University of Heidelberg in 2016, after submission and defense of a thesis entitled: ‘Ion Spectroscopy for improvement of the Physical Beam Model for Therapy Planning in Ion Beam Therapy’.

I am a researcher and I will contribute to increase the quality of radiotherapy treatments

Due to my expertise on the FLUKA code and my background on ion beam therapy, in 2016 I joined the FLUKA development team at CERN, as a Marie Skolodowska-Curie Early Stage Research Associate, part of the Optimization for Medical Accelerators (OMA) project. FLUKA is a well-established multi-purpose tool for particle transport and interaction calculations, developed by an INFN-CERN collaboration. In my OMA project ‘Improvements on FLUKA for medical applications’, I am contributing to the development of the nuclear reaction and fragmentation models embedded in FLUKA for use for carbon and helium ion therapy. I have collected and acquired crucial data for the improvement of the FLUKA physics models. The achieved results have been implemented in the current FLUKA development version and will be included in the next FLUKA release.

For the future, I am very motivated to contribute further to the development of the FLUKA code for medical applications, especially hadron therapy and imaging techniques. My research can contribute to increase the quality and efficacy of radiotherapy treatments with hadrons, and aims at reducing the risks of side effects and secondary tumors in patients.