Marco Durante elected president of PTCOG


Professor Marco Durante, head of the Biophysics Research Department at GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt, has been elected president of the Particle Therapy Co-Operative Group (PTCOG). The international organization is active worldwide to promote particle therapy — tumor therapy with particle beams, as developed, among others, at GSI— and thus improve overall treatment options for cancer.

Durante was elected president by the PTCOG Steering Committee, to which each clinical particle therapy center in the world sends representatives. The handover of the presidency took place during the recent PTCOG60 conference in Miami, USA. With Durante, for the first time a representative from Germany and also from research is appointed as president, after the position was previously held mainly by physicians or clinical medical physicists. As president, he will chair the PTCOG Governing Board.

“The appointment is a great honor for me and I am very grateful to fill this position for the next three years,” Durante said on the occasion of the election. “During my term, I would like to advocate for more focus on research within PTCOG. It is essential in order to further optimize particle therapy, which is already very successful as a therapy method and also gentle to the patients, and to make it available for additional conditions.”

The goal of particle therapy is to destroy tumor cells while sparing surrounding healthy cells. Accelerated ions are better suited for this purpose than the conventionally used X-rays. They unfold their damaging effect at the end of their trajectory at a certain depth. This groundbreaking tumor therapy was developed at GSI's large accelerator facility. With great success, more than 440 people with tumors in the head and neck region have been treated with ion beams there in the past. At the existing research facility, as well as in the future with the FAIR (Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research) accelerator facility currently under construction in Darmstadt, researchers are working to improve the method through new technologies and treatment procedures.

PTCOG, founded in 1985, is a global non-profit organization of researchers and professionals in the field of radiation therapy with protons, light ions, and heavy charged particles. Its mission is to promote the science, technology, and practical clinical application of particle therapy with the goal of improving treatment of cancer methods to the highest possible standard in radiation therapy. To accomplish its objectives, PTCOG encourages education in the field and promotes other global activities, such as international conferences and meetings.

Marco Durante is head of the GSI Biophysics Research Department and professor at the TU Darmstadt Department of Physics, Institute of Condensed Matter of Physics. He studied physics and got his PhD at the University Federico II in Italy. His post doc positions took him to the NASA Johnson Space Center in Texas and to the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Japan. During his studies, he specialized in charged particle therapy, cosmic radiation, radiation cytogenetics and radiation biophysics. He has received numerous awards for his research, including the Galileo Galilei prize from the European Federation of Organizations for Medical Physics (EFOMP), the Timoffeeff-Ressovsky award of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), the Warren Sinclair award of the US National Council of Radiation Protection (NCRP), the IBA-­Europhysics Prize of the European Physical Society (EPS), the Bacq & Alexander award of the European Radiation Research Society (ERRS) and the Failla Award of the Radiation Research Society. Additionally, he has been awarded an ERC Advanced Grant of the European Union for the continuation of his research activities. (CP)

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