Galileo Galilei prize awarded to STFC co-authored publication
27 Jul 2021



STFC's Dr Hywel Owen is recognised for his contributions to FLASH proton therapy paper


​We are delighted that a recent publication co-authored by one of our staff – Hywel Owen – has been recently been recognised through the award of the prestigious Galileo Galilei prize.

The Galileo Galilei prize is awarded each year to the research paper selected as the best publication in the European Journal of Medical Physics, a leading journal in that field. This year the award has been given to the paper 'Technical challenges for FLASH proton therapy', led by Simon Jolly (University College London) and co-authored by Hywel Owen (Accelerator Physics), our Cockcroft collaborator Carsten Welsch (Liverpool University), and Marco Schippers (Paul Scherrer Institute), the last of whom was a research partner on the recently completed EU-funded OMA (Optimisation of Medical Accelerators) research network.

Carsten has led the OMA network from its conception, which brings together the leading European centres developing particle accelerators for medical applications through over a dozen projects and which includes ASTeC as a partner on several developments. OMA funded the work leading to the award publication, which addresses the accelerator requirements for FLASH therapy with protons and which builds upon the advanced dosimetry developed at UCL to be applied at their proton treatment centre, and the compact cyclotron project funded through the STFC ASHE network of which ASTeC is a partner.

FLASH therapy is seen by many as a potential paradigm shift that can transform the quality of patient treatment during radiotherapy, and Dr Owen previously worked closely with the Christie Hospital during their setting up of the UK's first NHS centre offering modern proton therapy, and the design and procurement of the unique research beamline that is a focus for a collaboration with Varian Medical Systems – the leading provider of proton therapy systems – on FLASH therapy technology and methods. Dr Jolly's work funded through OMA was also recently shortlisted for Physics World's 'Breakthrough of the Year'.

ASTeC and Cockcroft are closely engaged in several studies on FLASH therapy. Cockcroft researcher Prof Karen Kirkby (Manchester University) leads the Christie research team studying proton therapy and its radiobiology, and ASTeC are working with Prof Roger Jones (also in Cockcroft and at Manchester University) to develop the realm of very high energy electron therapy using CLARA to perform dosimetry and cell biology studies.

Jolly S, Owen H, Schippers M, Welsch C. Technical challenges for FLASH proton therapy. Physica Medica. 2020;78:71–82. doi:10.1016/j.ejmp.2020.08.005

Contact: Diakun, Joseph (STFC,DL,AST)