For this spotlight, we contacted Dr. Robin De Kruijff from Delft University of Technology to talk about her article, FLASH radiotherapy: ultra-high dose rates to spare healthy tissue.
How and/or when did you get into this field of study?
I was actually planning to major in quantum mechanics, when I decided to take one nuclear chemistry course. I enjoyed that so much that I ended up switching to studying nuclear science and engineering, obtained my PhD in radiochemistry at the reactor institute in Delft, the Netherlands, and am currently still very much enjoying working in this field.
Why is this article important?
Only a few years ago, the first FLASH radiotherapy experiments have been performed, and since then has gained a lot of interest from both scientists and doctors worldwide. The great promise of this type of radiotherapy, where ultra-high dose rates are used in external radiotherapy treatment of tumors, lies in the large difference in response between tumor and healthy tissue. FLASH therapy destroys tumors with a very similar efficiency as with normal radiotherapy dose rates, but healthy tissue can cope much better with this ultra-high dose rates. This article reviews the advances made to date, and shows how FLASH therapy is capable of sparing of healthy tissue while still effectively destroying the tumors.
Where do you see your field in the next 10 years?
Currently, the focus is shifting to the development of personalized medicine, where the treatment is tailored to individual patient characteristics to improve treatment outcome. Both internal as well as external radiotherapy can be great assets in the development of personalized medicine, and I like to think that 10 years from now we will be able to quickly assess which specific treatment works for which patient, and thus greatly improve the quality of care.
Is there any particular article you published that launched your career?
I believe that all of my articles combined have helped me get to the point where I am now. However, one recent publication that I’m rather proud of is the following:
Elucidating the Influence of Tumor Presence on the Polymersome Circulation Time in Mice, where we discovered that the presence of a tumor leads to a different nanoparticle circulation and uptake behavior in mice.
Do you have any advice for Postdoctoral Researchers?
Make sure to make the most of this amazing time in your career, where you get to live abroad, and explore both different scientific environments as well as different cultures. A postdoc gives you the opportunity to spend a lot of time in the lab, which is usually harder to do once you take the next step in your academic journey.
- What is the one job you’d love doing if you weren’t in your current occupation?
I would have enjoyed being an anthropologist, being able to travel and understand more about different human societies and associated cultures.
- What’s the most unusual item you have in your office?
A collection of scintillation vials containing the different elements of the periodic table.
- Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Wars, the original series before Leia became a Disney Princess J
- Wine or Beer?
Being from the Netherlands, with Belgium just around the corner, I’d definitely have to go for beer.
- Favorite food?
Spicy dry rub grilled chicken wings!