AUSTIN, Texas, July 15, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Over 140 medical technology researchers from nine countries are slated to participate in the second annual Varian Medical Systems Developer Workshop, taking place here July 17-18, prior to the 2014 annual meeting of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM). Modeled after developers' conferences commonly associated with software technology companies, the Varian Developer Workshop will support a group of highly engaged researchers who use nonclinical research tools from Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR) for projects that have the potential to become the next generation of cancer treatment technologies.
Important innovations that are currently in the development pipeline for Varian's TrueBeam™ and Edge™ technology platforms have already resulted from projects by members of the community leveraging these research tools.
"We designed this event for our research community to share knowledge and help each other become more productive in our Research Ecosystem, or the Varian Nonclinical Environment to Empower Research (NEER)," says Michelle Svatos, senior manager of translational research. "The goal is to get people inspired, help them take existing research projects to a new level, and facilitate alliances between researchers interested in similar projects."
Varian has created several non-clinical development tools for researchers, including TrueBeam™ developer mode, Eclipse API and developer toolkit, cloud-based Monte Carlo simulation tools, and iTools image reconstruction toolkit. Collaborators can customize the tools while they pioneer new treatment techniques in a non-clinical setting. A powerful graphical user interface (GUI) called Veritas™ is available for creating novel deliveries with TrueBeam Developer Mode, and the resulting doses can be computed using a cloud-based virtual linear accelerator (linac) to see the effects of changes in various machine parameters.
"The beauty of using Veritas is that researchers don't have to write any code to interact with the linac. They can see the code being generated as they give the machine specific instructions," Svatos says. "People with a great clinical idea should not be hampered by not knowing the language we use to speak to our machines."
Varian has set up several cloud-based online resources, including a repository of tools and technical information that participants will interact with during the workshop. The company will release several new open source research tools at this year's workshop, and plans to conduct a good-naturedly competitive "hack-a-thon" among participants to solve common research problems. The resulting code will be made available to the developer community for non-clinical research.
"This is really about facilitating translational research in an 'open source' environment," Svatos says. "The processes and techniques being worked out using our non-clinical research tools are by definition not FDA cleared and cannot be used clinically. However, if a project really opens up a new horizon, Varian can work from the prototype to quickly put the concept into product development and seek regulatory clearance. At the same time, we do have one research tool in the Eclipse toolkit that is cleared to operate on a clinical database. Experts will focus in a panel discussion this year on best practices for using this research tool to mine data that can improve clinical practice."
Translational Research Group to Make Three Presentations at AAPM
Presentations by Svatos, other Varian colleagues, and research partners during the official AAPM meeting, Svatos and several of her colleagues from Varian's translational research group will cover:
- How the Veritas open source tool facilitates collaboration among users who are interested in pioneering new treatment and imaging techniques (with researchers from Brigham & Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts)
- Ways of using Varian's virtual linac (VirtuaLinac) to model "what if" scenarios, and then perform Monte Carlo dose simulations in the cloud to see what kinds of dose distributions would be obtained (with researchers from the British Columbia Cancer Agency, Vancouver, Canada)
- A novel, statistical approach to optimizing intensity in treatment plans (with researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison).
"We feel that our developer tools, and the developer workshop, have the potential to open up new horizons in technology development," Svatos says. "We've enrolled twice as many people in this year's workshop as we did last year. We realize that the next revolution in radiotherapy treatment might come from any one of our collaborators. We hope that, by facilitating collaboration, we are helping to advance the science of radiation oncology, to everyone's mutual benefit."
About Varian Medical Systems
Varian Medical Systems, Inc., of Palo Alto, California, is the world's leading manufacturer of medical devices and software for treating cancer and other medical conditions with radiotherapy, radiosurgery, and brachytherapy. The company supplies informatics software for managing comprehensive cancer clinics, radiotherapy centers and medical oncology practices. Varian is a premier supplier of tubes, digital detectors, and image processing software and workstations for X-ray imaging in medical, scientific, and industrial applications and also supplies high-energy X-ray devices for cargo screening and non-destructive testing applications. Varian Medical Systems employs approximately 6,500 people who are located at manufacturing sites in North America, Europe, and China and approximately 70 sales and support offices around the world. For more information, visit http://www.varian.com or follow us on Twitter.
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SOURCE Varian Medical Systems