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Dr Kate Ricketts
Dr Kate Ricketts profile picture
  • Senior Lecturer
  • Department of Targeted Intervention
  • Div of Surgery & Interventional Sci
  • Faculty of Medical Sciences

Kate Ricketts is Associate Professor of Cancer Physics at the Division of Surgery and Interventional Science, University College London, and NHS clinically accredited Radiotherapy Physicist. She obtained a BA in Physical Natural Sciences from Cambridge University in 2004, IPEM NHS Part 1 Training in Medical Physics (Diagnostic Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Radiotherapy) at the Royal Berkshire Hospital and MSc in Radiation Physics from UCL in 2008, continuing with a PhD in Nanoparticles for Tumour Diagnostics from UCL awarded in 2011. After a postdoc in Big Data at UCLH Radiotherapy Department, she completed Part 2 NHS Training in Radiotherapy Physics, clinically accredited in 2014. She commenced a lectureship at UCL Division of Surgery and Interventional Science in 2013, making Associate Professor in 2016.  She currently works at the interface of radiation physics, AI and cancer biology towards improving patient response to radiotherapy treatment.

Research Groups
Research Themes
Research Summary

My career goal is a personalised framework incorporating patient biology into physics models to ensure each radiotherapy patient receives a treatment tailored to the radio-responsiveness of their tumour and surrounding healthy tissueThere is a current underuse of patient-specific biological information in planning radiation treatment, resulting in heterogeneity in treatment response.

Towards this, my research has focussed on the following three themes.

Patient biology-informed radiotherapy planning: How do patient cellular and environmental factors affect radiation induced cell death? My team are repurposing a cellular 3-dimensional model, invented by UCL colleagues initially for drugs testing, to start to answer this question. A collaboration with CERN has devised a method to improve accuracy in calculating radiation dose within these complex 3-dimensional samples. The eventual aim is to incorporate patient-derived cells for patient specific testing radiotherapy/drug options.

AI-enabled radiotherapy: Towards better patient outcomes: How can we feedback patient outcomes into the treatment planning process? My team are exploring the use of a population library of planned vs delivered dose maps to train machine-learning algorithms to inform planning strategies: predicting which patients/tumour sites/plan parameters are most likely to result in dose delivery errors. We are concurrently developing a framework for algorithmic automated outcomes data interpretation in order to feedback outcomes to the planning process for radiotherapy patients.

Nanoparticle-guided and -enhanced radiotherapy: Can we further enhance biological damage for more resistant tumours? Tumour-targeted nanoparticles can increase radiation interaction and biological sensitivity offering a localised tumour dose boost. We are developing methods to quantify the enhancement of radiation damage of nanoparticles, and quantitative nanoparticle imaging platforms based on pre-clinical MRI and x-ray fluorescence (in collaboration with the Electronic Engineering Department, Politecnico di Milano), towards clinical translation.

Teaching Summary

Teaching roles include engagement with research degrees: I am Director of Studies for the UKRI CDT in AI-enabled Healthcare, and Graduate Tutor for Research at the Division of Surgery which involves overseeing the academic progression of the 130 research degree students in the department. I have supervised 10 PhD students in projects spanning the above. I am module lead of two taught modules: MSc Nanotechnology in Medicine (MSc Nanotechnology and Regenerative Medicine course) and BSc Nanomedicine (BSc Applied Medical Sciences course), including design, delivery and assessment of approx. 60-70 students per year. Internationally, I am developing two radiotherapy skills development programmes for Ghana and China, a mixture of distance learning, skills training and didactic teaching. I am UK clinical physics lead of a UCL-China oncology development programme led by Professor Gary Royle. I co-founded the paRTner programme with colleagues at UCL, Royal Berkshire Hospital and UCL Hospital to utilise UK resources and expertise to train radiotherapy physicists in developing countries by distance learning. To date paRTner have trained 40 clinical trainees. I am currently working with the Ghanaian Ministry of Health to deliver a training scheme to prepare for Ghana’s first public linear accelerator. 

Academic Background
2011   Doctor of Philosophy University College London
2008   Master of Science University College London
2004   Bachelor of Arts University of Cambridge
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