NCI P20 Grant

The NCI P20 grant supports the planning stage of a National Particle Therapy Research Center (NPTRC). UT Southwestern submitted an application in response to the NCI’s funding announcement (PAR-13-371) and in early 2015 was awarded the grant with a near perfect score of 11 (scale of 10 to 100). With the establishment of the NPTRC, researchers across the nation will have access to the resources to conduct basic, translational, and clinical research within the field of heavy ion therapy.

The first goal of the project is to identify research questions and directions associated with the use of heavy particles in radiotherapy, and to design the infrastructure to pursue those directions. This goal will be achieved through the completion of three objectives:

  • Commission two task groups to develop a comprehensive analysis of research questions on charged particle therapy, and design specifications for beam line and infrastructure;
  • Determine the potential research scope of the NPTRC
  • Develop specifications related to beam line, facility, and infrastructure.

The second goal of the project is to develop and validate an accurate and efficient Monte Carlo (MC) dose engine using novel graphics-processing unit (GPU) and cloud-computing technologies. The MC system has been used successfully in radiotherapy, especially in particle beam radiation therapy (PBRT). Once validated, the system will be essential in the planning of the NPTRC by offering realistic virtual simulations of clinical, physical, and technical scenarios. The objectives of the project are as follows:

  • Develop a web interface, a physics database and core GPU-based MC simulation codes
  • Validate the computational accuracy of the MC system and test its efficiency.

The organizational chart of the NPTRC is shown below and is composed of an executive committee, an external advisory board and research working groups (biology, physics, clinical and educational).

UT Southwestern is creating a tri-modal Texas Center for Advanced Radiation Therapy (TCART) that will include a proton therapy facility (phase 1, under construction), a photon therapy expansion (phase 2, under construction) and a heavy ion therapy facility (phase 3, in planning).