PhD in Robust Proton Therapy Treatment Planning

Research / Academic


Radiotherapy (RT) is a key treatment modality for cancer, but side-effects can have significant negative impact on patients' quality-of-life. Intensity-Modulated Proton Therapy (IMPT) is a new type of RT, holding the promise of better preserving normal tissues surrounding the tumor, due to the finite range of protons. However, IMPT's advantage also comes at the cost of increased sensitivity to uncertainties in patient alignment, changes in patient anatomy, or dose calculation, which can never be completely eliminated. To account for uncertainties in IMPT, robust treatment planning has been proposed, where possible errors are directly incorporated in the optimization to make treatments robust. However, while sufficient robustness in IMPT treatments is crucially important, practical guidelines for robust treatment planning, evaluation, and reporting are currently missing. This hinders optimal use of IMPT, prevents exploiting its full tissue-sparing potential, and could even nullify its advantage compared to conventional RT.

To provide a solution, the KWF funded PEARL project aims to increase the precision of IMPT by providing physicians the currently missing tools to optimally balance tumor control probability and dose conformity in the presence of treatment errors. This is a collaborative project between TU Delft, Erasmus MC and HollandPTC, in which 2 PhDs will work closely together with the 3 institutes and their staff. All clinical IMPT plans from the three Dutch proton therapy centers will be evaluated for uncertainties, and practical guidelines and methods for robustness evaluation and robust treatment planning will be derived, enabling optimal clinical use of robust IMPT.


We at TU Delft are looking for an enthusiastic PhD student with a keen interest in developing numerical methods and software algorithms for robust IMPT planning. The candidate should meet the following requirements:

  • Solid background in applied mathematics and computational physics, especially in probability theorey, numerical analysis, and model and algorithm development.
  • MSc degree in Applied Physics, Applied Mathematics, Medical Physics, Biomedical Engineering or equivalent.
  • Programming experience in at least one current language (e.g. Matlab, Python, C/C++).
  • Excellent communication skills in English, both in writing and speaking.
  • Good team-player, ability to work in a collaborative environment with the Erasmus MC PhD and the project partners.
  • A background in radiotherapy or medical physics is a plus, but not necessary.

Salary Benefits:

TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount for health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. An International Children’s Centre offers childcare and an international primary school. Dual Career Services offers support to accompanying partners. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.

As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment; an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor; and a Doctoral Education Programme aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills. Please visit for more information.

For more information about this vacancy, you can contact Dr. Zoltan Perko, Assistant Professor, email: or +31 15 27 86821.

To apply for this PhD position, please send a detailed CV, a 1 page motivation letter and the contact information of 2 references via email to Anouk Nieuwesteeg at Applications will be evaluated on a first come, first served basis. Preference will be given for candidates who can start by 1 January, 2019.
When applying for this position, please refer to vacancy number TNWRST18-069.  

Work Hours:

38 hours per week


Mekelweg 15