Radiotherapy is one of the three most important treatment modalities for cancer and forms part of the course of treatment for more than half of all cancer patients. It is the only local treatment method that kills tumour cells without affecting the normal tissue structure. However, radiotherapy is also responsible for the occurrence of toxicity. The best treatment involves a balance between the chance of recovery and an acceptable risk of side effects. Radiotherapy research has focused primarily on the individualisation of radiotherapy treatment for a number of years now. A number of methods currently being developed and tested will make it possible to include patient and tumour-specific characteristics and changes that occur during treatment in the treatment plan.
In his capacity as a professor by special appointment, Jan-Jakob Sonke will focus on the development, clinical translation and validation of adaptive radiotherapy in his research. This will involve the use of medical imaging to quantify the anatomical and functional changes ensuing from radiation therapy as well as the adjustment of the treatment plan to allow for these changes as much as possible.
Besides doing research, Sonke will also teach on the subject of biomedical physics. His education remit will include giving lectures on advanced imaging to Master's students and preparing trainee research assistants for roles as radiotherapists for the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, VUmc and AMC triangle.
Sonke has been the group leader of the Radiation Oncology Department at the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek hospital (AvL) since 2014. He joined the AvL as a postdoc in 2000, after obtaining his doctoral degree with the Sound Control department at TU Delft. Sonke is a member of the editorial board of Medical Physics and of the international advisory council of Physics, Medicine and Biology. He has published a large number of articles in academic journals like Medical Physics, Radiotherapy Oncology and the International Journal of Radiation Oncology • Biology • Physics. Sonke has been the recipient of various research grants, most of them from the Dutch Cancer Society (KWF Kankerbestrijding).