Dr Mike Merchant is a senior lecturer in Proton Therapy Physics in the PRECISE group (Proton Research at the Christie and Division of Cancer Sciences) at the Division of Cancer Sciences, University of Manchester.
My primary research interest is the development of biologically augmented treatment planning for proton therapy based on nanodosimetry and mechanistic modelling of DNA repair.
I am proud to have been a key part of the design team for the Christie Proton Research Beamline, a 250 MeV beamline in a dedicated research space at the new Christie proton therapy centre.
I received a Ph.D. in Electronic Engineering from the University of Surrey, on the topic of the beam optics of magnetic quadrupole probe forming systems for focussing of MeV ions to sub-micron spot sizes. During this time, I developed an interest in the use of ion microbeams to investigate the radiation response of living cells.
The Christie Proton Research Beamline:
The Christie proton beam therapy centre hosts three clinical treatment rooms featuring a ProBeam proton therapy system supplied by Varian Medical Systems. Joint investment by Department of Health and the Christie Charity into the Manchester Proton Therapy Centre has allowed the development of a dedicated proton therapy research space in a fourth room at the Christie proton therapy centre. The research beamline features a Varian engineering scanning nozzle, and has the capability for pencil beam spot-scanning.
We have worked with Don Whitley Scientific Ltd to develop a highly automated high-throughput hypoxia end-station, compatible with proton beam scanning for proton radiobiology.
- The development of in-silico models for proton-induced DNA damage and repair in cells, with the aim of modelling cell fate in response to radiation. The Christie Proton Research beamline will be a valuable tool for validating such models.
- Development of new technologies for proton therapy, including proton arc therapy.