Derek D'Souza - Radiotherapy Physics 

I studied physics at university and did a master immediately after my degree. I decided to become a medical physicist at 23 and got my first role at the Royal London.

I then joined UCLH in 1995, where I have stayed ever since. Overtime I was promoted to lead the radiotherapy physics team. The team works with our doctors, radiotherapists and others to provide radiotherapy to patients. We get involved in treatment planning and quality assurance of our equipment.

As well as being part of the team that provides care to patients, I have been involved in a range of service development projects. For instance, in the early 2000s I was part of the team that helped to design and open the radiotherapy department in the new University College Hospital in 2005. I have also been involved in the development of radiotherapy techniques.

The most exciting project has of course been helping to secure a NHS proton beam therapy service and creating one of the two treatment centres at UCLH (the other centre is at The Christie in Manchester). I was involved right from the start, helping to make the clinical and economic case for PBT, and also to explain the benefits of building the centre at UCLH.

As we build the centre, I have been involved in the procurement of our PBT equipment and its delivery. We are now working hard on our plans to commission the equipment and developing our treatment planning systems. From a construction angle, I have also been involved in the shielding design – all radiotherapy leads to some level of radiation being created. To keep patients, public and staff safe, we have ensured our centre has thick walls with steel and concrete, this absorbs the radiation keeping us all safe.

It has been a really exciting project. I have been lucky to travel to PBT centres in the USA, Europe and Asia to learn from them and to meet lots of different people involved in proton therapy and patients who have benefited from PBT. I can’t wait till we open in 2020 and we are able to give patients this important treatment here in London.