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Diamond Beam Monitors Key to More Precise Radiation Therapy
Stony Brook researcher Erik Muller Receives DOE grant to develop a technology for the next generation of radiation treatment for cancer

Erik Muller

Erik Muller holds one of the diamond monitor devices that could potentially be adapted to newer radiation beam systems that Dr. Samuel Ryu has incorporated into treatment protocols at Stony Brook University Cancer Center.

Stony Brook, NY, July 5, 2016 – A national team of researchers led by Erik Muller, PhD, Senior Research Scientist and Adjunct Professor, Department of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Stony Brook University, is developing high-speed synthetic diamond beam monitors that detect proton and carbon ion beams used for cancer radiation therapy. The technology, supported by a two-year $500,000 grant from the High Energy Physics Section of the Department of Energy, is designed to provide much higher precision of radiation therapy and could form the basis for the next generation of radiation beam therapy for cancer.

Proton/ion beam therapy remains an emerging area of cancer treatment, with the growing potential for specific targeting of tumors without significant damage to surrounding tissue. One of the most challenging areas for the development of this technology is with the beam delivery system, which ensures that the patient receives the required dose while minimizing the risk of exposure to healthy tissue.

“We believe that diamond is a remarkable material for the beam delivery system because it is radiation hard, tissue equivalent, and has a huge linear dynamic range for delivery,” said Dr. Muller. “By using this technology, our team is developing new beam monitors that will provide three orders of magnitude improvement in speed and precision, and has more durability over current technology.”

The team is focusing its research on the diamond beam detector technology in relation to the dose, timing and shape of the beams.

Dr. Muller is also working with Samuel Ryu, MD, Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology and Deputy Director for Clinical Affairs at Stony Brook University Cancer Center, to adapt the diamond detectors for use in radiation monitoring for cancer therapy. Dr. Ryu is incorporating the latest high-energy photon radiation systems into the Department, and the diamond detectors could potentially be used to enhance these systems even more once commercialized.

The research team includes scientists from Stony Brook University, Brookhaven National Laboratory, the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory, Case Western Reserve University and Best Medical International.

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About Stony Brook University 

Part of the State University of New York system, Stony Brook University encompasses 200 buildings on 1,450 acres. Since welcoming its first incoming class in 1957, the University has grown tremendously, now with more than 25,000 students and 2,500 faculty. Its membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. U.S. News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 100 universities in the nation and top 40 public universities, and Kiplinger names it one of the 35 best values in public colleges. One of four University Center campuses in the SUNY system, Stony Brook co-manages Brookhaven National Laboratory, putting it in an elite group of universities that run federal research and development laboratories. A global ranking by U.S. News & World Report places Stony Brook in the top 1 percent of institutions worldwide.  It is one of only 10 universities nationwide recognized by the National Science Foundation for combining research with undergraduate education. As the largest single-site employer on Long Island, Stony Brook is a driving force of the regional economy, with an annual economic impact of $4.65 billion, generating nearly 60,000 jobs, and accounts for nearly 4 percent of all economic activity in Nassau and Suffolk counties, and roughly 7.5 percent of total jobs in Suffolk County.

Greg Filiano
Media Relations Manager, School of Medicine, Stony Brook University
Office: 631.444.9343
gregory.filiano@stonybrookmedicine.edu