THERADNET: EU funding for excellent young researchers

Prof. Dr. Beate Timmermann is convinced that “the well-founded, modern training of our young scientists is essential if we want to continue to optimize the possibilities of radiation therapy in the future”. Accordingly, the Medical Director of the West German Proton Therapy Centre (WPE) and Director of the Clinic for Particle Therapy was delighted that the European career network THERADNET at the University Medicine Essen will support three PhD students in Experimental Radiation Research over the next three years. The WPE and Prof. Verena Jendrossek’s research group, Institute of Cell Biology (tumour research), University Medicine Essen, will receive 1.5 million euros for the training of three young scientists, so-called Early Stage Researchers (ESR). THERADNET is one of the Marie-Sklodowska Curie Actions with which the EU supports excellent young scientists. One ESR position will be allocated at WPE and two more at the Institute of Cell Biology.

THERADNET stands for “International NETwork for Training and Innovation in THErapeutic RADiation” and supports the multidisciplinary training of 15 PhD students in the field of experimental radiooncology at various locations in Europe with four million euros. In addition to the WPE and the University Medicine Essen, the universities of Zurich, Oxford, Leuven, and Maastricht, the Technical University Dresden with OncoRay and the Institute Curie in Paris are involved – all of them outstanding European institutions in radiation research. The aim of the network: To connect radiation biologists, clinical scientists, physicians, and non-academic partners and to conduct joint research on interdisciplinary projects. The respective ESRs work for up to three months in so-called “secondments” at the respective THERADNET locations, using both the technical expertise and the ultra-modern technical equipment on site for their doctoral theses. These secondments also serve to build up strong professional networks and the general transfer of knowledge between the locations. Preparation for a non-academic career after the doctorate will also be promoted through the integration of non-academic partners withinTHERADNET.

“The scientific questions that we at WPE will address within the framework of THERADNET are clearly defined,” summarizes radiation biologist Prof. Dr. Cläre von Neubeck, who is in charge of the project at WPE. To what extent does the effect of photons and protons differ at the cellular level, i.e. with regard to the consequences of irradiation for tumor cells and “normal” tissue cells, and what are the fundamental effects of both types of radiation on DNA? “If we generate reliable results within THERADNET, this will be of great clinical relevance. The more we know about the processes at the cellular level during irradiation, the more specifically can we identify those patients who could particularly benefit from proton or photon therapy. And if we understand how the DNA is repaired after irradiation by the cell, we can specifically combine protons and drugs in order to optimize or even intensify the radiation effect.” According to Prof. von Neubeck, the funding of a research centre via THERADNET “takes us an important step further towards this goal”. The same applies to the planned secondments with the Curie Institute, the University of Oxford and OncoRay Dresden.

This link will take you to the WPE job advertisement for a research associate.