Masterclass on tumor therapy — High-school students learn treatment planning


On site at GSI/FAIR, 24 interested high-school students were given the opportunity to learn more about tumor therapy with ion beams during a Masterclass in March. The event was hosted by scientists of the Biophysics research department at GSI/FAIR. All Particle Therapy Masterclasses (PTMCs) are coordinated by GSI/FAIR in the framework of the International Masterclasses of the IPPOG (International Particle Physics Outreach Group), of which GSI is an associate member.

The students gained insight into innovative methods for tumor therapy using ion beams via introductions to particle therapy and a review of the carbon therapy pilot project that took place at GSI, where over 440 people were treated on campus from 1997 to 2008. During a tour of the research facilities, they visited the former treatment site and received information about the current state of research.

During a subsequent hands-on exercise, they had the opportunity to create treatment plans for therapy using the professional software MatRad, developed by Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum in Heidelberg, and got to know more about the benefits of different methods. In a final video conference in English with participants from other research institutions in Germany, Georgia and Slovenia, they exchanged their experiences.

The PTMCs have been set up by GSI/FAIR and are organized internationally by coordinator Yiota Foka. Since its first pilot at GSI/FAIR, six PTMCs sessions have been organized per year reaching about 1500 each year in 2021 and 2022, in online mode. In 2023, nine sessions of PTMC took place mostly in-person or in hybrid mode, in 35 institutes from 20 countries. Further yearly events at GSI/FAIR and others around the world are planned for the future.

Each year, more than 13,000 students from 60 countries take part in all IPPOG Masterclass events of about 225 universities or research centers for a day to unlock the mysteries of particle physics. The events in Germany are held in collaboration with the Netzwerk Teilchenwelt, of which GSI/FAIR is a member. The goal of the nationwide network for communicating particle physics to young people and teachers is to make particle physics accessible to a broader public. In addition, the new PTMC demonstrates benefits of fundamental research for society and the role of particle physics for tumor therapy. (CP)