Christoph Schmelzer Award 2019 for two young researchers


This year, the Christoph Schmelzer Prize was awarded for two doctoral theses: Dr. Sonja Schellhammer from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf and Dr. Sebastian Meyer from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich were awarded on November 21 at GSI and FAIR. This prize is awarded annually by the Association for the Promotion of Tumor Therapy with Heavy Ions e.V. for outstanding master's and doctoral theses in the field of tumor therapy with ion beams.

The welcoming addresses for the 21st Christoph Schmelzer Award were given by Professor Paolo Giubellino, Scientific Managing Director of GSI and FAIR, and Professor Gerhard Kraft, founder and former division head of GSI Biophysics, and Dr. Hartmut Eickhoff, Chairman of the Board of the Association, welcomed the participants. Prof. Dr. Dr. Jürgen Debus, Director of the Department of Radiology at the University Hospital of Heidelberg gave the keynote speech. He reported on long-term experiences in radiation therapy with heavy ions and on current study results.

In her dissertation at the TU Dresden, Dr. Sonja Schellhammer studied imaging using magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) during treatment with proton beams. The long-term goal of this combination is a more precise localization of the tumor volume. At the Institute for Radiooncology (OncoRay) of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, the world's first magnetic resonance scanner integrated into a proton beam guidance was constructed in 2017. Schellhammer's work entitled "Technical Feasibility of MR-Integrated Proton Therapy: Beam Deflection and Image Quality" analyzes both the effect of the MRT magnetic fields on the proton beam and the effect of the proton beam guidance on the quality of the resulting MRT image.

Dr. Sebastian Meyer studied for his dissertation whether ion beam computed tomography instead of X-ray computed tomography has potential for clinical use and which different detector systems and ion species would be suitable. For this purpose, he simulated CT images that can be obtained using protons, helium and carbon ion beams. In his doctoral thesis entitled "On the Clinical Potential of Ion Computed Tomography with Different Detector Systems and Ion Species", he also evaluated the integration of these images into tumor treatment planning and the resulting improvement in irradiation accuracy.

The prize money is 1500 Euro each. This award, now in its 21st year, represents a long-term continuity in the promotion of young talents in the field of ion beam tumor therapy. The topics of the scientific work are of fundamental importance for the further development of ion beam therapy, since the results of the award-winning work often find their way into clinical application. The award is named after Professor Christoph Schmelzer, co-founder and first Scientific Managing Director of GSI. The GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung where heavy ion therapy was developed to clinical maturity in Germany in the 1990s traditionally provides the appropriate setting for the annual ceremony.

The Association for the Promotion of Tumor Therapy supports research activities in the field of tumor therapy with heavy ions with the aim of improving the treatment of tumors and providing general patient care. At the accelerator facility at GSI, more than 400 patients with tumors in the head and neck area were treated with ion beams as part of a pilot project from 1997 to 2008. The cure rates of this method are in some cases over 90 percent and the side effects are very low. The success of the pilot project led to the establishment of clinical ion beam therapy centers in Heidelberg and Marburg, where patients are now routinely treated with heavy ions. (LW)

Further information:

Association for the Promotion of Tumor Therapy with Heavy Ions e.V.