On 16–17 October members of a new four-year, EU-funded project met at CERN for the kick-off meeting of the Particle Training Network for European Radiotherapy (PARTNER). co-ordinated by CERN, the project received €5.6 m as part of the European Commission’s Marie Curie funding scheme.

The aim of PARTNER is to train researchers in the rapidly emerging field of hadron therapy, thus paving the way for improved cancer treatments. Hadron therapy uses beams of protons or carbon ions instead of X-rays to target malignant tumours. The technique penetrates deeper and more precisely into the body, creating minimal harm to surrounding tissue (CERN Courier December 2006 p17).

The project brings together 10 participating academic institutes, research centres, and leading European companies in particle therapy, and it has funding for 25 doctoral and postdoctoral researchers. In this way the network institutes enrich international co-operation and contribute to the quantity, quality and mobility of European researchers, while benefiting from the efforts and new ideas that the young people bring to the research programmes.

In turn the researchers receive excellent training opportunities, through formal programmes and hands-on experience of state-of-the-art equipment, under the supervision of world-class experts.

The start of the project is particularly timely, because two new hadron-therapy facilities are about to open in Europe: HIT in Heidelberg and CNAO in Pavia. These will be the first centres of this kind to be built in Europe, and they will benefit hugely from PARTNER as it trains a new generation of researchers.