Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering


World Cancer Day 2024 – My experience speaking at ESTRO 23

3 February 2024

Three women standing in a conference centre smiling at the camera

This World Cancer Day, we are showcasing a year of ground-breaking research conducted by the UCL Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering community and sharing insights into our cutting-edge advancements as we work towards a cancer-free world.

I was thrilled to be invited to attend and give a talk at my very first conference, ESTRO 2023, which took place on 12th - 16th May in the beautiful city of Vienna, Austria. My abstract titled “Dosimetric impact of bowel filling during proton therapy for paediatric abdominal neuroblastoma” (co-authored by A.C. Ghica, D.Botnariuc, M. Hussein, V. Rompokos, D. D’Souza, M. Gaze, J. Gains, P. Lim, and C. Veiga), was chosen for a 4-minute mini-oral presentation, followed by an engaging 3-minute discussion. The work I presented was part of the research project I conducted during my MSci Medical Physics degree in the 2021/22 academic year.

ESTRO surpassed all my expectations! The level of collaboration and interdisciplinary exchange was astounding, and the depth of knowledge presented in the various sessions was truly remarkable. I was particularly drawn to the sessions showcasing the potential of automation and AI to revolutionise patient care and the insights into how these technologies are being integrated into clinical workflows.

Delivering a talk at ESTRO was a blend of excitement, nervousness, and a profound sense of accomplishment. The engagement of the audience and the positive feedback I received filled me with immense gratitude and validated the efforts I had put into my research. It was truly inspiring to witness a community that recognised and appreciated the contributions of young women in science like myself. In addition, seeing my work recognised by a wider audience despite only having an undergraduate background, is the greatest accomplishment I have gained so far, both academic and personal.

ESTRO offered various networking opportunities, ranging from poster discussions to informal exchanges at industry exhibits. However, the standout event for me was the Young ESTRO dinner, which was a great occasion to interact with fellow young professionals in a relaxed and informal setting. I found it inspiring and humbling to meet individuals who shared the same passion for radiotherapy and oncology as me, as well as to exchange ideas and experiences with them.

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the MPBE Athena SWAN committee, whose generous sponsorship made my attendance at the conference possible. I am profoundly thankful for my supervisor, Dr Catarina Veiga, whose encouragement played an important role in my participation in the event. I truly believe their support allowed me to break down barriers in a male-dominated field, and that I was able to make a difference in my career as a young female researcher.

Meet the Expert

Ana-Cristina Ghica, PhD Student

a profile picture of a female student
Ana-Cristina is a current doctoral candidate on the EPSRC i4Health CDT programme and studied on the MSci Medical Physics programme during 2018-2022.

With a long history of major breakthroughs, UCL is home to one of the largest concentrations of cancer specialists to be found anywhere in the world. On World Cancer Day 2024, find out more about UCL’s world-leading research on cancer at the UCL Cancer Institute