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Presenting the future of proton therapy

A leading scientist making major strides in medical imaging, which could make proton therapy a viable treatment for many more cancer sufferers, will present his latest findings – including a new type of proton imaging – at a prestigious conference next month.

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Professor Nigel Allinson MBE, Distinguished Professor of Image Engineering at the University of Lincoln, UK, will appear among other world-leading experts at the Proton Therapy Congress in London this September.

Proton therapy is a form of radiation treatment that uses protons rather than x-rays to treat cancer. It has several benefits, including less radiation damage to the normal healthy tissues around the tumour and potential to deliver a higher radiation dose to the tumour (increasing the chances of destroying tumour cells). Proton therapy is particularly important in treating children.

The Congress will bring together researchers, clinicians, manufacturers and many more in the proton therapy sector to examine the future of proton therapy. It will take place in London on 20th-21st September 2016.

Nigel AllinsonProfessor Allinson, based in the School of Computer Science at the University of Lincoln, leads the groundbreaking PRaVDA (Proton Radiotherapy Verification and Dosimetry Applications) project. He and his multinational team are developing one of the most complex medical instruments ever imagined to improve the delivery of proton therapy.

The PRaVDA instrument is being designed to produce detailed 3D images of a patient’s anatomy using protons rather than x-rays, which has never been done before. To produce these Proton CT images, the world-first technology will use the same high energy particles that are used to destroy a tumour during proton therapy treatment.

Using protons to form an image of the patient will greatly improve the accuracy of the treatment. Using current methods, there could be a discrepancy of up to 1cm in terms of where the protons release most of their energy after passing through 20cm of healthy tissue. By using Proton CT, this margin for error can be reduced to just a one or two millimetres.

The PRaVDA researchers believe that Proton CT will soon be used as part of the planning process for cancer patients, as well as during and after treatment.

Click here to read the full article

More information on the PRaVDA presentation and the wider Proton Therapy Congress is available online.

Computer Science Showcase Success

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School of Computer Science students show off their final projects to industry leaders and fellow classmates in an exciting annual showcase event.

A Smart Mirror, a ‘Swords of Turing’ fighting game and chess lessons with a twist played a big part of the day-long event with undergraduate and postgraduate students in the Minerva Building, Atrium.

Senior Lecturer Bruce Hargrave said: “The event was a huge success. We had some great student projects on show throughout the day including postgraduate research, presentations and demo’s and it was great to see some local industry leaders getting involved in the day and giving advice to students too.”

Students created chatbots, games and other artefacts intended to ‘pass’ the Turing Test, under the title ‘Man or Machine? Can You Tell The Difference?’

Computer Science student Keiran Lowe said: “It’s been a really good experience and really valuable, because even though our project is in development, people who try the game have given us responses we might not have thought about. And because we have to programme each response in, we can add their responses to increase the knowledge base.

“It’s been a good event to showcase our project at, but also to test it on what people think.”

Watch Keiran’s project here:

Even Gadget Show presenter and University of Lincoln guest lecturer Jason Bradbury came along to see the projects in action. Jason helped students with ideas, encouraging projects to go further and promoting team work from start to finish.

Organiser Dr Amr Ahmed said: “This is another success and expansion over the last 4 years events. More guests and interests, better projects and demos, all made public in the Atrium for internal and external visitors.

“We are proud of our students achievements and annually organise such events to make opportunities for them to interact with employers and visitors to show their work. The panel find it more and more difficult to choose the winners at the end of the event. And they are looking forward for the next year’s event already. Some job vacancies have already been sent to us, from guests and employers.”

University Vice Chancellor, Professor Mary Stuart enjoyed the day too, adding: “What a wonderful event and so good to see all the work.

Research Seminar 15/02/16 2pm, in MB1020: Dr Michael Mangan

After Dr Cuayahuitl and Dr Baxter, who gave research presentations recently, we are now happy to announce a research seminar by the third colleague to join the Lincoln Centre for Autonomous Systems soon as a Senior Lecturer.

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Dr Michael Mangan

On 15/02/16, at 2pm, in room MB1020 (1st floor, Minerva Building), Dr Michael Mangan, currently still at the University of Edinburgh, will be presenting his exciting research. Everybody is invited to join in.

 

 

Title

What can self-driving cars learn from the humble desert ant?  And how are those lessons learned?

Abstract

Desert ants are amongst the most impressive of the animal navigators: expertly piloting through complex environments despite possessing low-resolution eyes and tiny brains. As such they are an ideal model system for bio-roboticists that seek to understand these amazing animals, as well as those seeking novel solutions for engineering goals such as autonomous navigation.  In this talk I shall firstly introduce the animal of interest (the desert ant) describing their amazing navigational capabilities.  I will then briefly describe some recent examples for which our bio-robotic approach has lead to advances in understanding of the biological system and novel applications in autonomous systems (such as self-driving cars).  I shall close by looking ahead to the research I shall be pursuing after joining the University of Lincoln this spring.

 

‘Cancer seeing’ technology is one in a hundred innovations to change our world

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A groundbreaking piece of medical imaging technology that could revolutionise cancer treatment will be featured as part of a showcase of 100 engineering ideas that have changed our world.

A section of the PRaVDA instrument, developed at the University of Lincoln, UK, for enhancing the treatment of cancer using proton beam therapy, will be included in the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) new show wall at its Savoy Place headquarters in London.

The IET is the largest professional engineering institution in Europe and its show wall will be a celebration of engineering ideas that have had the biggest impact on humanity. Other items on show include an internal combustion engine, as designed by Karl Benz, and a mechanical television system, which was masterminded by Logie Baird.

The international consortium of researchers behind the PRaVDA (Proton Radiotherapy Verification and Dosimetry Applications) project is led by the University of Lincoln’s Distinguished Professor of Image Engineering Nigel Allinson MBE.

Funded by the Wellcome Trust, he and his multinational team are developing one of the most complex medical instruments ever imagined to improve the delivery of proton beam therapy in the treatment of cancer. The advances they have made in medical imaging technology could make this type of therapy a viable treatment for many more cancer sufferers.

The world-first technology developed by the team uses proton beams to localise treatment, causing less damage to healthy tissue.

Professor Allinson, from the University of Lincoln’s School of Computer Science, said: “It is an amazing honour for our work to be included on the IET’s show wall, and to be up there with some of the all-time greats of engineering innovation.”

The IET’s year-long show wall exhibition is part of a series of initiatives to celebrate the launch of the new Savoy Place venue in London, which officially opens in November 2015. The exhibition will include a layer of PRaVDA’s Proton Tracker Unit, which will feature alongside other pioneering innovations from across the globe.

The PRaVDA research consortium was also recognised by the institution in November 2014, when it won the Model-based Engineering category at the prestigious IET Innovation Awards, which recognise the best global innovations in engineering, science and technology.

Later this year, the PRaVDA team will continue its work by using coveted time on the South African National Cyclotron (a type of particle accelerator), near Cape Town, to try to produce a world-first clinical-quality Proton CT.