My Topol fellowship problem / project:

The aim of radiotherapy is to deliver a radiation dose to a tumour whilst sparing the surrounding organs and healthy tissue. Radiotherapy treatment planning requires accurate contouring of tumour volumes and organs at risk. In standard practice, contouring is performed manually by the clinician on the computer using the patient images which is very time-consuming and subjective. Furthermore, the time spent by clinicians on contouring reduces their availability for other tasks and can delay the start of patients’ treatments. In turn, this can lead to increased anxiety for patients and poorer tumour control probability. For some patients, this can lead to reduced survival. Thus, auto-contouring tools, which can be deployed in the existing workflow, are needed in order to improve contouring consistency, optimise patient treatment pathways and improve patient outcomes whilst enabling effective use of staff resources. Furthermore, due to anatomical changes and tumour volume shrinkage during the course of radiotherapy treatment, re-planning may be needed. This is particularly important in proton beam therapy which is very sensitive to anatomical changes in the beam path. Auto-contouring could potentially speed up the process of plan adaptation which would be a great asset. My proposed innovation project consists of the evaluation, adoption and implementation of an artificial intelligence-based auto-contouring tool for photon and proton treatment planning. Introducing auto-contouring into the clinical workflow could reduce the clinical workload, improving consistency, efficiency and potentially reducing delays in the patients’ pathway, increasing patient throughput. Faster turnaround times reduce waiting times across patients’ pathways and thus, anxiety to patients and increase survival rate. This project could have huge potential to increase productivity in radiotherapy in the wider NHS.

I achieved a degree in Physics from Complutense University of Madrid. After having completed my MSc in Medical Physics accredited by IPEM (Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine), which included practical experience at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, I worked as a Radiotherapy Research Physicist in the Medical Physics Department at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. At Addenbrooke’s, I successfully completed the NHS Scientist Training Programme in Medical Physics, specialising in Radiotherapy Physics and leading towards my UK state registration as a Clinical Scientist. I am currently a Proton Therapy Physicist at UCLH in London and NIHR (National Institute of Health and Care Research) Innovation Fellow. I undertake treatment planning, clinical trials, routine quality control of radiotherapy delivery machines, commissioning dosimetry and imaging equipment, commissioning and implementation of new radiotherapy techniques. In addition, I lead a variety of other research projects including auto-contouring. I was appointed in 2019 as Radiation Protection Supervisor for Proton Beam Therapy, and Physics Representative for the Radiotherapy Safety Group. I am an IPEM Full Member, BIR (British Institute of Radiology) Member and since 2019 I have been an Honorary Lecturer in the UCL Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering.