A Particle Training Network for European Radiotherapy (PARTNER) will be established in response to the critical need for reinforcing research in ion therapy and the training of professionals in the rapidly emerging field of hadron therapy. This is an interdisciplinary, multinational initiative, which has the primary goal of training researchers who will help to improve the overall efficiency of ion therapy in cancer treatment, and promote clinical, biological and technical developments at a pan-European level, for the benefit of all European inhabitants. This need has particular urgency since two particle therapy facilities will soon become operational in Heidelberg (HIT, Germany) in early 2008, and in Pavia (CNAO, Italy) later in 2008. These are the first dual particle therapy centres to be built in Europe but others have been recently approved in Austria, France, and Germany, and there are longer-term plans for advanced accelerator systems in Spain and UK. PARTNER brings together ten academic institutes and research centres of excellence, the two leading European companies in particle therapy, IBA and Siemens, and a recently established SME enterprise specialised in the area of radiation treatment planning solutions. All partners are known world-wide in the diverse but complementary fields associated with particle therapy: clinical, radiobiological and technological. Thus the network covers a unique set of competencies, expertise, infrastructures and training possibilities. The ultimate goal of hadron therapy is to deliver more effective treatment to the cancer patient. Potentially hadron therapy can have a very major impact on health of citizens. The context of a new technique and a dynamic research program in an area of great societal demand offers outstanding training opportunities for future careers of the young researchers.
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