Jacinta Yap - Welcome to the QUASAR Group!
Another new face here with the QUASAR group is Jacinta, a fellow who has joined the OMA project training network and is based at the Cockcroft Institute. Hailing from Perth in Western Australia, she obtained a BSc majoring in Mechanical Engineering. Following this, she decided to pursue a Masters in Medical Radiation Physics and has recently graduated from the University of Wollongong. For her thesis project, Jacinta studied the relative biological effectiveness (RBE) of a proton therapy beam given a microdosimetric approach, by application of a novel silicon microdosimeter alongside Monte Carlo (Geant4) simulations. Jacinta will also be working towards a PhD during her time with us and her research will be focused on investigating the halo dose of a proton therapy treatment beam.
Proton therapy is soon to become a more accessible option for cancer treatment in many places around the world, including the United Kingdom. In comparison to conventional radiotherapy, the rationale for using a charged particle beam is due to greater benefits made possible by advantageous dosimetric characteristics. As protons interact with tissue they slow down and deposit large amounts of energy at the end of their path and by positioning this event specifically at the site of the tumour, the dose delivered by a proton beam can be feasibly conformed to the target site while sparing healthy tissue. However, as consequence of the nature of the interactions which occur, nuclear and secondary products result in additional dose which emerge as a surrounding halo. As such, the characterization and understanding of this extra dose is important when considering treatment plans, verification and quality assurance. From previous studies, the QUASAR group has upgraded the LHCb VELO detector to a standalone design, which will be utilised for halo dose measurements at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre.
In addition to the halo studies, Jacinta will be looking at the application and optimisation of VELO as a non-interceptive online beam monitor for potential treatment and quality assurance applications. Her project is just one of the 15 projects proposed by the Optimization of Medical Accelerators (OMA) network to address the challenges presented by proton therapy through research and development of advanced treatment optimisation, imaging and diagnostics systems.
It’s now nearing the one month mark since Jacinta arrived and so far she has spent her first few weeks going through the introductory motions of inductions, paperwork, lectures, meetings, not as exciting news but important nonetheless! It has been a nice beginning and a much appreciated first few weeks of getting acclimatised to faces, work (and particularly the extended cold weather as she’s just come straight from winter break, Aussie winters seemingly transition well with Autumn here…) and getting back up to speed with background reading.