Networking against cancer

15 January 2018

ENLIGHT is focusing on education and training to promote hadron therapy in Europe.

The inaugural meeting of the European Network for Light Ion Hadron Therapy (ENLIGHT) took place at CERN in February 2002, with the aim of co-ordinating European efforts in innovative cancer treatment strategies using radiation. Specialists from different disciplines, including radiation biology, oncology, physics and engineering, with experience and interest in particle therapy have nurtured the network ever since.

Today, ENLIGHT can count on the contribution of more than 700 members from all continents. Together, they identify and tackle the technical challenges related to the use of highly sophisticated machines, train young and specialist researchers, and seek funding to ensure the sustainability and effectiveness of the organisation.

Started with the support of the European Commission (EC), ENLIGHT has coordinated four other EC projects in particle therapy: ULICE, PARTNER, ENVISION and ENTERVISION. In the past 15 years, the network has evolved into an open, collaborative and multidisciplinary platform to establish priorities and assess the effectiveness of various treatment modalities. Initially based on the three technologies and innovation pillars – accelerators, detectors and computing – of high-energy physics, the ENLIGHT initiative has evolved into a global effort.

Training essential

ENLIGHT has witnessed a large increase in dedicated particle therapy centres, and innovative medical imaging techniques are starting to make their way into hospitals. Skilled experts for high-tech cancer treatment are, therefore, in high demand. Thanks to the large number of scientists involved and its wide reach, ENLIGHT has enormous potential to offer education and training and, since 2015, has included training sessions in its annual meetings.

Education and training, in addition to pitching for research funding, are the main thrusts of ENLIGHT’s activities today. A project within the CERN & Society Foundation has just been approved, opening a new chapter for ENLIGHT and its community. The benefits lie, not only in reinforcing the hadron therapy field with qualified multidisciplinary groups of experts, but especially in helping young scientists flourish in the future.

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