PhD Studentship in Proton Radiotherapy Imaging Reconstruction

University of Surrey - Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing

A fully-funded PhD Studentship is available for a UK or EU student to join the Medical Imaging lab at the Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing, University of Surrey. Proton beam therapy (PBT) is rapidly gaining momentum compared to traditional x-ray/electron beams with more than 63 operating sites and 40 sites under construction worldwide. Protons have similar relative biological effectiveness (RBE) to photons, but an excellent depth-dose distribution profile allows better conformation of dose distribution to target compared to x-rays or electrons, thereby reducing the integral dose to the body and avoiding dose to normal tissue structures near the tumour. This is crucial when treating growing children, to avoid side effects such as developmental delays, hormone deficiencies, effects on bone and muscle tissue, and hearing loss or damage to salivary glands.

PBT can deliver treatments in sub-mm accuracy, but because of imaging limitations prior to treatment, upon which the treatment is planned it currently cannot achieve more than 7 mm accuracy. To maximise the potential of PBT it is crucial to accurately know the dose distribution and be able to shape and control it, making imaging the number one challenge for accurate treatment planning. Based on the reconstructed images, proton stopping power maps are calculated, which inform us about the dose distribution. Due to the proton Bragg peak characteristic a miscalculation in the proton stopping power map (distance from the 90% to the 10% dose level is only a few mm) can result in the proton beam missing its target and damaging healthy tissue, while the tumour receives much lower dose.

The PhD involves addressing this challenge using novel Bayesian reconstruction schemes that will incorporate prior information from other imaging modalities, and optimising the image quality when limited views of the patient are available to form the image.

Surrey is a member of the PRAVDA proton radiotherapy consortium: which aims to develop imaging methods for this exciting new approach to radiotherapy. At Surrey we lead on image reconstruction which aims to produce 3D images from measurement of protons that pass through the patient.

Entry Requirements

Candidates should hold a 1st or 2:1 Bachelor’s degree and preferably a Masters’ degree with distinction in an appropriate discipline (e.g., engineering, computer science, signal processing, applied mathematics, physics). They should be able to demonstrate excellent mathematical, analytic, and programming skills.


Funding is available for UK or EU nationals only and covers full tuition fees (home rate) and a stipend at the rate specified by the Research Council (rate for 2016-2017 is £14,296 p.a. tax-free). The award will be for a period of 3 years from the starting date.

How to Apply: send (i) cover letter, (ii) curriculum vitae, (iii) outline research proposal (max. 2 pages), (iv) details of two academic referees, and (v) copies of transcripts and certificates of qualification to Dr Nikolaos Dikaios For specific information about the PhD research project please contact Dr Nikolaos Dikaios.

Suitable candidates will be shortlisted and invited to complete the formal application process including an interview. The closing date for applications is open.

We acknowledge, understand and embrace diversity.

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