Christoph Schmelzer Prize awarded to three young researchers


Three young researchers have been awarded this year’s Christoph Schmelzer Prize: Dr. Veronika Flatten from the University Marburg and Dr. Timo Steinsberger from the Technical University Darmstadt receive the award in recognition of their dissertations, Christopher Cortes Garcia from the TU Darmstadt for his master’s thesis. With this award, the Association for the Promotion of Tumor Therapy with Heavy Ions e.V. annually honors outstanding master’s and doctoral theses in the field of tumor therapy with ion beams. The researchers received the award on November 24 at a ceremony on the GSI/FAIR campus in Darmstadt.

The opening address was given by Prof. Dr. Dr. Gerhard Kraft, the founder and former head of biophysics department at GSI. Dr. Hartmut Eickhoff, chairman of the board of the association, welcomed the participants. The keynote speech was given by the physicist and former Christoph Schmelzer Prize awardee Prof. Dr. Katia Parodi from the Ludwig-Maximilian-University Munich on the topic “New prospects in precision image-guided radiation therapy “.

In her PhD thesis entitled „Estimating the effects on the dose distribution through the Bragg Peak degradation of lung tissue in proton therapy of thoracic tumors“ award winner Dr. Veronika Flatten has investigated the influence of density inhomogeneities in lung tissue on the accuracy of the dose distribution. In her work, she has shown that the relevant information about density inhomogeneities can be extracted from routine diagnostic computed tomography images. Their influence can thus be taken into account in radiation planning without additional measurements on the patient.

For his work with the dissertation topic “Development and experimental validation of adaptive conformal particle therapy”, Dr. Timo Steinsberger has developed methods to compensate the movement of the tumor during irradiation; for this purpose, he has extended existing concepts for regular movement. Instead of assuming respiratory movements with always the same amplitude and frequency, he allows for more realistic, irregular tumor movements in radiation planning and has implemented the corresponding compensation algorithms in the radiation control system.

The master’s thesis of Christopher Cortes Garcia, entitled “Investigation of RF-signals for the slow extraction at HIT’s medical synchrotron” deals with improvements in the time structure of the ion beam extracted by the accelerator. Through a combination of theoretical and experimental work, he was able to establish a method that allows a significant reduction in the irradiation time while improving the irradiation accuracy.

The prize money for the dissertations is 1500 Euro each, for master's theses 750 euros. The award is named after Professor Christoph Schmelzer, co-founder and first Scientific Managing Director of GSI. The promotion of young scientists in the field of tumor therapy with ion beams has meanwhile been continuing for many years, and the award was presented for the 24th time. The topics of the award-winning theses are of fundamental importance for the further development of ion beam therapy and often find their way into clinical application. (BP)

About the Association

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 making it available to 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 sometimes 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 regularly treated with heavy ions.

Further information

Association for the Promotion of Tumor Therapy with Heavy Ions

Philipps University Marburg

Technical University Darmstadt