PARTNER'S Farewell

PARTNER, the Particle Training Network for European Radiotherapy, was launched in 2008 with the support of the European Commission. Its scope was to train young researchers in hadron therapy and, in doing so, aid the battle against cancer. Last week, a meeting in Pavia (Italy) celebrated the end of the project and its numerous accomplishments.

PARTNER was funded by the European Commission (within the FP7 framework) with a budget of 5.6 million euros, and involved ten institutes and two private companies from around Europe. The project has helped to train a new generation of highly specialised professionals in hadron therapy, a field that is truly multidisciplinary. The 29 Marie Curie researchers, who all came from different backgrounds, had the opportunity to be trained in a wide range of subjects, such as physics, medicine, radiobiology and information technology. The latest results from some of their research projects will be collected and published in a special issue of the Journal of Radiation Research later this year.

Between training courses, scientific conferences and general meetings, the PARTNER researchers had a travel-intensive life. Some of them calculated that they had accumulated over 80,000 km of globetrotting over their years with the project. “PARTNER was truly a huge success for training,” says Manjit Dosanjh, life sciences advisor at CERN and PARTNER Co-ordinator. “Several of our young researchers have received prizes and awards for their outstanding research. The PhD theses and publications that they produced while with PARTNER will be very important for their future careers.” Indeed, for many of them a bright career has already started in various institutes and hospitals involved in hadron therapy around the world.

PARTNER had a further positive, but unexpected, outcome: not only have the researchers become highly educated professionals, but also close friends. “The ties they built during the project will live on. This network will be an invaluable asset for their own future as well as that of the community of hadron therapy experts,” says Manjit Dosanjh. “Emotions were running high at this last meeting in Pavia. These young people have been spending weeks together in full-immersion courses and networking events, so it is no wonder that they feel part of a large multicultural, multilingual and multidisciplinary family.”

The PARTNER farewell event was followed by another celebration, the 10th anniversary meeting of the European Network for Light Ion Hadron Therapy (ENLIGHT). “ At our request, the inaugural meeting of the network was held at CERN in February 2002,” recalls Ugo Amaldi, one of the founding fathers of ENLIGHT. “It was supported by Hans Hoffmann, CERN’s Director for Technology transfer and scientific computing, and Luciano Maiani, CERN’s Director General.” In a few weeks, the ENLIGHT community will come back to CERN for a commemorative symposium open to everyone.

While PARTNER reaches a very successful end-of-project, the other EC-funded projects under the umbrella of ENLIGHT are continuing their activities. The researchers who recently joined the ENTERVISION project were both inspired and motivated by hearing the outcome of PARTNER.

The annual ULICE meeting was also held in Pavia, where a new video was screened that focussed on the beam-time offered at CNAO in Pavia and HIT in Heidelberg under the Transnational Access Pillar. “The access to the facilities’ beam-time, made possible by EC funding for the ENLIGHT community, is of key importance for hadrontherapy research,” comments Piero Fossati, medical doctor at CNAO.

by Antonella Del Rosso

Copyright CERN 2012 - CERN Publications, DG-CO

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