ENLIGHT envisions its future

Last week, the European Network for LIGht-ion Hadron Therapy (ENLIGHT) met in Cracow to discuss how to best imagine its future. Over its 13 years of life, the network has succeeded in blending traditionally separate scientific communities with the common goal of more effective treatments against cancer and improving patient outcome.


Group photo of the ENLIGHT members participating in the network's annual meeting, held in Cracow on 18-19 September, 2015.

Today, ENLIGHT includes over 300 members from more than 20 countries. Clinicians, physicists, biologists and engineers with experience and interest in particle therapy are working in unison under the network’s umbrella. ENLIGHT has run four EU-funded projects – ULICE, PARTNER, ENVISION and ENTERVISION – and has managed to gather experts from the various fields to design common strategies to fight cancer with particles. “ENLIGHT has worked as an open collaborative network and has served as a common multidisciplinary platform for all the communities involved,” says Manjit Dosanjh, deputy head of CERN’s Medical Applications office and ENLIGHT coordinator. “The network has identified and tackled the technical challenges, trained young researchers, supported innovation and lobbied for funding.”

The annual 2015 ENLIGHT meeting was held in Cracow and was hosted by Paweł Olko, the Scientific Director of the Polish Institute of Nuclear Physics and Director of the Bronowice Cyclotron Centre, Poland's proton-therapy centre. The meeting featured several presentations and even a poster session. The speakers reported on the status of research (in hadron therapy, imaging, radiobiology and data sharing), as well as on the current medical trials using ions.

With two new dual-ion therapy centres – in Marburg (Germany) and in Wiener Neustadt (Austria) – and the proton-therapy centre in Cracow that will start treating patients in the coming months, the members of ENLIGHT have many reasons to celebrate. However, many challenges still lie ahead, including securing funding and succeeding in harmonising data, which is key to sharing information and best practices within the various communities. Focussed discussions took place at the final round table where the various speakers tackled the issue of the future of ENLIGHT and its vital role for the hadron therapy community. “We discussed various scenarios for ensuring the continuity of ENLIGHT and enhancing its role in education and training in particular, which, together with fundraising actions, is a key aspect,” concludes Dosanjh. “The first step will be the creation of a small working group that will help me establish the future structure of ENLIGHT, which will include a scientific committee – a core group of members covering various disciplines and nationalities. The hope is to drive and guide ENLIGHT towards a bright future.”

ENLIGHT suppports the ICTR-PHE conference that will be held from 15 to 19 February, 2016. The deadline for submitting abstracts has been postponed to 30 October. Registration is open.

by Antonella Del Rosso