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Physik-Institut Group of Jan Unkelbach

Medical Physics


Over the past 20 years, research and development in medical physics has improved the accuracy and conformity of radiotherapy tremendously. This includes the development of intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), which allows the delivery of highly conformal dose distributions to complex shaped tumors. More recently, the development of image guided adaptive radiotherapy has provided means to correct for geometric changes and organ motion over the course of therapy. The medical physics group contributes to these technological advances of radiotherapy through both clinically applied and fundamental research projects.

For a general introduction to the technology of modern precision radiotherapy, you may watch this presentation given at the Scientifica 2019 (in german).

We focus on 3 areas of research:

  1. Radiotherapy treatment planning: We conduct research on mathematical optimization methods for radiotherapy planning to further improve treatment planning systems. This includes both X-ray therapy and proton therapy, and the combination of protons and X-rays.
  2. Target delineation and outcome prediction: Here, we focus on quantitative analysis of medical images such as MRI, CT and PET, with the goal of precisely defining the region to be irradiated and predicting the patient's response to treatment. Work in this domain is integrated into the UZH Clinical Research Priority Program  Artificial intelligence in oncological imaging
  3. Radiotherapy technology: We work on the development and clinical translation of state-of-the-art radiotherapy technology. Our department is the first in Switzerland to install a MRI-Linac, a combination of MRI scanner and radiotherapy device. In addition, we recently converted a clinically decommissioned linac to 16 MeV electron-FLASH modality. The achievable average dose rates up to 800 Gy/s will be employed to investigate novel detectors and the flash sparing effect in (pre)clinical studies.