Radiotherapy physics research in the UK: challenges and proposed solutions.
AffiliationChristie Medical Physics and Engineering, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester, UK.
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AbstractIn 2011, the Clinical and Translational Radiotherapy Research Working Group (CTRad) of the National Cancer Research Institute brought together UK radiotherapy physics leaders for a think tank meeting. Following a format that CTRad had previously and successfully used with clinical oncologists, 23 departments were asked to complete a pre-meeting evaluation of their radiotherapy physics research infrastructure and the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats within their own centre. These departments were brought together with the CTRad Executive Group and research funders to discuss the current state of radiotherapy physics research, perceived barriers and possible solutions. In this Commentary, we summarise the submitted materials, presentations and discussions from the meeting and propose an action plan. It is clear that there are challenges in both funding and staffing of radiotherapy physics research. Programme and project funding streams sometimes struggle to cater for physics-led work, and increased representation on research funding bodies would be valuable. Career paths for academic radiotherapy physicists need to be examined and an academic training route identified within Modernising Scientific Careers; the introduction of formal job plans may allow greater protection of research time, and should be considered. Improved access to research facilities, including research linear accelerators, would enhance research activity and pass on developments to patients more quickly; research infrastructure could be benchmarked against centres in the UK and abroad. UK National Health Service departments wishing to undertake radiotherapy research, with its attendant added value for patients, need to develop a strategy with their partner higher education institution, and collaboration between departments may provide enhanced opportunities for funded research.
CitationRadiotherapy physics research in the UK: challenges and proposed solutions. 2012, 85 (1018):1354-62 Br J Radiol
JournalBritish Journal of Radiology