Meet the Proton Therapy Network Investigators

Karen J Kirkby

Proton Therapy Network - Investigators - Karen J KirkbyKaren J Kirkby is Chair in Proton Therapy Physics, jointly funded by the University of Manchester and The Christie NHS Foundation Trust. In Manchester she is responsible for leading the proton therapy research. Karen was formerly at the University of Surrey where she was part of the management team of the EPSRC national Ion Beam Centre. She also led the activities on the biomedical applications, running a very successful EPSRC Network which with funding from The Wolfson Foundation (£800k) helped to build a community and develop the facilities and infrastructure to pave the way for proton therapy in the UK.

Karen also led Surrey’s successful application to EPSRC for a Knowledge Transfer Account (£3.85m) and its successor Impact Acceleration Account, which she ran while at Surrey. She was also involved in the development of the successful bid, between Surrey and Strathclyde universities, for the management of the National Physical Laboratory. Karen has over 180 publications in peer reviewed journals, including Nature, she has also written for popular science magazines (New Scientist and Physics World) and for broadsheet newspapers, her work has featured on both the TV and radio. She represents the UK on a number of international committees in PBT and is a partner and the coordinator on a number of EU grants in this field.

Gary Royle

Proton Therapy Network - Investigators - Gary RoyleGary Royle is Professor of Medical Radiation Physics at UCL and head of the Proton and Advanced RadioTherapy research centre, a team with over 40 people. He is also research lead for the new UCLH Proton Therapy centre. Research interests include: image directed therapies; outcome driven radiotherapy planning; clinical trials for new cancer sites, combined therapies and dose escalation; and novel technologies for treatment verification. He has published over 250 papers in the fields of medical imaging and radiotherapy and currently has over £5M of active grant income, with funding from EPSRC, STFC, European Union and industry.

Gillies McKenna

Proton Therapy Network - Investigators - Gillies McKennaProfessor Gillies McKenna graduated in Zoology in 1972 from the University of Edinburgh; he then studied in the US for an M.D. and a Ph.D. in Cell Biology from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. After postgraduate training at Johns Hopkins Hospital and the US National Cancer Institute, Professor McKenna joined the Faculty of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia in 1987, where he rose to become the Henry K. Pancoast Professor and Chairman of Radiation Oncology. His major research interest is the study of the molecular mechanisms underlying the resistance of some cancers to treatment with radiation or with chemotherapy. He is particularly interested in developing strategies to render some of the most resistant tumours more sensitive to treatment and is working to bring some of his research discoveries into clinical trial in our area.

Professor McKenna has received several awards and honours including a Scholar’s Award from the Radiological Society of North America, a Career Development Award from the American Cancer Society, the Weiss medal from the Association for Radiation Research, the Röntgen Medal from the Deutches Röntgen Museum, Germany and most recently the Gold Medal from the Royal College of Radiologists. He was a member of the Board of Scientific Advisors of the US National Cancer Institute. Professor McKenna moved to Oxford in 2005 and is currently the Director of the CRUK/MRC Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology and Head of the Department of Oncology. He works closely and serves on scientific boards with external funding bodies and partners. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Radiologists, the Academy of Medical Sciences and of the Institute of Biology.

Neil G Burnet

Proton Therapy Network - Investigators - Neil BurnetNeil Burnet is Professor of Radiation Oncology in the University of Cambridge Department of Oncology, and Honorary Consultant Oncologist in the Oncology Centre at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge. His first Consultant post was at Velindre Hospital in Cardiff, where he stayed for two years before moving to an academic post in Cambridge. Professor Burnet undertook his medical training at Clare College, Cambridge, and then at Westminster Medical School in London. He worked as a surgeon, attaining FRCS before turning to oncology. He undertook his clinical oncology training in London, including a period of research investigating individual variation in normal tissue radiosensitivity.

The majority of his clinical work is with patients with CNS tumours, and he considers himself very fortunate to work with an excellent multi-disciplinary group. His particular interests are in radiotherapy for pituitary tumours and chordoma of the skull base and spine, and the optimisation of treatment with image-guided IMRT. He was the lead clinician for TomoTherapy implementation at Addenbrooke’s in 2007.

Professor Burnet is Principle Investigator for the Cancer Research UK VoxTox research programme, in the area of Computational Radiotherapy. This is examining differences between planned and delivered radiotherapy dose, and between expected and observed toxicity, using automated dose calculation on image guidance scans. He is also Co-Principle Investigator of the RAPPER Radiogenomics project, with Prof Catharine West in Manchester, which is investigating genetic determinants of individual variation in normal tissue toxicity from radiotherapy. Professor Burnet was a member of CTRad, the national Clinical and Translational Radiotherapy Research Working Group, from its inception in 2009, becoming Chair in 2013. He stood down from the chairmanship in April 2016.

Michael J Taylor

Proton Therapy Network - Investigators - Michael J TaylorMichael J Taylor is a lecturer in Proton Therapy Physics at the University of Manchester. His research interests utilise radiation detection and measurement techniques to remove treatment uncertainties and improve proton beam therapy. Michael has over forty peer reviewed, high impact, journal articles which include 2 Nature articles, 7 Letters and 4 Instrumentation and Methods articles. He specialises in Monte-Carlo radiation transport simulations and is a member of the international Geant4 collaboration.