University of Newcastle launches Global Centre for Research and Training in Radiation Oncology.

MN Report 12:24 PM, 2 Nov, 2022
University of Newcastle launches Global Centre for Research and Training in Radiation Oncology.

Collaboration key to elevating cancer care globally

Australia: The Hunter is poised to elevate the standard of cancer care around the world with the establishment of a specialised radiation oncology centre at the University of Newcastle.

The Global Centre for Research and Training in Radiation Oncology (GC-RTRO) is the first of its kind to bring radiation oncology research and training activities together to support Medical Technology (MedTech) industry and clinician needs; and train the next generation of radiation therapists.

International and Australian MedTech partners and donors to the Centre provided significant industry-grade equipment for training undergraduate and postgraduate students and to provide advanced training for international and local clinicians in the latest radiation therapy technologies.

Designed to emulate a functioning radiation oncology facility, the Centre’s state-of-the-art teaching spaces feature access to the latest cancer treatment planning software, a simulation laboratory with eight individual bays, a virtual reality training teaching space with three-dimensional technology, a linear accelerator and computed tomography (CT) scanner.

Global Centre Director Associate Professor Yolanda Surjan said the facility’s focus on bringing together radiation oncology research and training to support clinician and student needs, provided important opportunities to improve cancer patient outcomes worldwide.

“We know that cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. In 2020, it accounted for nearly 10 million deaths around the world, equating to nearly one in six deaths,” Associate Professor Surjan said.

“One in two people with cancer could benefit from radiation therapy. Research consistently informs best practice to treat different types of cancers, therefore it is essential clinicians are trained in the most current and safe use of the recommended radiation therapy technologies for cancer treatment.”

To support this industry need, Associate Professor Surjan said the Centre’s laboratories, incorporating 'outreach cameras', would deliver CIFAL/United Nations accredited virtual short courses and demonstration workshops to upskill clinicians across the world, with a special focus on those based in developing countries in the Asia Pacific and Africa.

In tandem, the cutting-edge research and training hub will give the University’s students direct access and links to international and national partners through research and training opportunities.

The University of Newcastle is the leading Australian provider of radiation therapy graduates with its Bachelor of Medical Radiation Science (Radiation Therapy) graduates sought after worldwide.

Associate Professor Surjan said the Centre provided a safe environment for students to gain clinical skills in an academic setting, supported by the most experienced educators.

“Through access to the Centre’s radiation oncology equipment and software, they develop confidence in their abilities by undertaking practical training before entering the clinical world,” she said.

“Our students will benefit from this valuable hands-on experience and be prepared to hit the ground running as they begin their career in radiation therapy, ultimately advancing the delivery of cancer care and the patient experience.”

University of Newcastle Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alex Zelinsky, AO, said the establishment of the Global Centre for Research and Training in Radiation Oncology placed Newcastle at the forefront of the global drive to advance cancer care.

“The University of Newcastle is proud to be educating the next generation of radiation therapists, who through this Global Centre have access to industry-grade equipment and the field’s leading educators.

“With the support of our valued partners and collaborations with leading global and national radiation oncology cancer care companies, philanthropic contributors and community advocacy groups, we will help deliver better health outcomes for communities throughout our regions,” Professor Zelinsky said.

The Global Centre for Research and Training in Radiation Oncology (GC-RTRO) is located at the ICT Building on the University’s Callaghan campus.

What is radiation therapy?

Also known as radiotherapy, radiation therapy uses sophisticated radiation technology to target and destroy cancer cells and shrink tumours – allowing cancer to be treated, managed and cured or palliated. University of Newcastle students learn to use radiation therapy as the primary treatment, or used alongside other treatments such as surgery or chemotherapy.

Computed Tomography (CT)

A CT scan combines a series of X-ray images taken from different angles around the body and uses computer processing to create cross-sectional images (slices) of the bones, blood vessels and soft tissues inside the body. CT scan images provide more-detailed information than plain X-rays.

Linear accelerator

A medical linear accelerator (LINAC) is the device most commonly used for external beam radiation treatments for patients with cancer. It delivers high-energy x-rays or electrons to the region of the patient's tumour.

Accredited short courses

The Centre will deliver CIFAL*/United Nations Accredited Short Courses to clinicians across the world to provide training and education in radiation oncology. The courses align with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals ‘Good Health and Wellbeing’ and ‘Quality Education’.

The Sustainable Development Goals are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a "shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future". The SDGs were set up by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 and are intended to be achieved by 2030.

The CIFAL Global Network is part of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research.

The team

The Global Centre for Research and Training in Radiation Oncology is driven by a proud team of radiation therapists and academics. With a passion for elevating cancer care, the all-female team is dedicated to delivering exceptional education, research and training in radiation oncology.