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May 1st 2018

UW Faculty and Engineer Receives PMB Best Paper Award – The Roberts Prize

Congratulations Drs. Eric Ford, Jeff Schwartz, Ning Cao, Juergen Meyer, Ramesh Rengan, Jing Zeng, and George Sandison, and engineer Rob Emery for receiving the Roberts Prize for the Best Paper in 2018 of the journal Physics in Medicine & Biology 2018.

Dr. Ford and colleagues’ research publication: An Image-guided Precision Proton Radiation Platform for Preclinical in vivo Research was selected by the Physics in Medicine & Biology Journal as the Best Paper of 2018.  The research article presents for the first time, the creation of an experimental image-guided micro-beam proton therapy facility to test treatment proton treatment.  Until the Image-guided Precision Proton Radiation Platform for Preclinical in vivo Research at UW, such facilities have only been  available for conventional x-ray beam therapy, but not for the novel option of proton therapy,

The research lays out the development and capabilities of this one-of-a-kind facility, and explains the rationale why such research capabilities are urgently needed.  Proton beam radiation therapy is a specialized way of treating cancers, and in some cases, and often offers benefits over standard radiation therapy with X-ray therapy.  However, to this date, scientists have found it difficult to study the radiation biology of how proton beams work in the laboratory setting, due to the expensive equipment associated with the experiment, which is often inaccessible, and not designed for laboratory use.

Dr Ford has a long record of developing experimental radiation therapy platforms during his time at Hopkins, and was closely involved in the initial development of the X-ray-based system.

After joining UW, he has applied his extensive experience to the unique proton bean capabilities at UW. He led the team of researchers to develop the proton radiation therapy beam that is especially designed for laboratory experiments, and created the very first platform in the world to study proton radiation therapy.   The platform provides image-guidance with CT imaging alongside a specialized proton beam.  This combination of technologies allows scientists to study highly-localized proton therapy in a laboratory setting.  What is more is that this technology will allow more researchers to explore new treatment techniques; such as, novel drug agents in combination with proton radiation therapy, and refine treatment regimens, so that they may be brought into clinical use to improve the treatment of cancer patients.

Thanks to Dr. Ford and colleagues’ research and development, currently, there are more research projects underway to study the effects of proton beams on the immune system, the interaction of these beams with nanoparticles, and the spatial shaping of the beams into tiny beamlets to potentially spare normal organs from damage.

Dr. Ford’s research collaboration includes a team of medical physicists, our engineer, Rob Emery; UW faculty, Dr. Jing Zeng, Ramesh Rengan, Nina Mayr, George Laramore, Jeff Schwartz; and medical physics resident, Daniel Smith; also our current and former students from UW, Daniel Huff, Manisha Narayanan and others.

Dr. Eric Ford is a Professor and Medical Physicist in the Department of Radiation Oncology.  To learn more about Dr. Ford’s clinical work and research publications, please click here.