HITRIplus in BEYOND 2023 Exhibition in Thessaloniki, Greece

June 20, 2023

The HITRIplus project participated in the  BEYOND 2023 exhibition that took place at the HELEXPO exhibition centre in Thessaloniki, Greece, from 24 to 26 May 2023 as part of the booth highlighting benefits for society from fundamental research, designed by CERN ECO, Education Communication and Outreach, department. Additional panels presented the treatment of tumours with accelerated ion beams as a concrete example of accelerator technology, developed primarily for fundamental physics research, and applied to medicine.

This is the 2nd time that HITRIplus participated in the newly established BEYOND exhibition which aims at creating a forum for industry, focusing on IT innovation, from, primarily, South-East European and Mediterranean countries. The invitation came from the president of the HELEXPO exhibition centre and founder of BEYOND, Mr Tzikas, who supports efforts to enhance awareness of heavy ion therapy in Greece and beyond. As president of Technopolis he supports, in addition, initiatives that demonstrate the multidisciplinary aspects of the heavy ion therapy field and provide information to the young generation on interesting related career opportunities but also to entrepreneurs and investors. During a panel he organized and moderated the first day of the exhibition, with the participation of the minister of Development and Innovation Mr Georgiadis Adonis, Yiota Foka of GSI and SEEIIST deputy to the HITRIplus WP2 coordinator, was invited to participate in an intervention highlighting the importance of computing and in particular of Artificial Intelligence in the field of ion beam therapy. Developments of digital technologies play an important role not only in the design of an ion beam therapy facility or its accelerator controls, but also in the modelling of processes, or the creation of databases of anonymized patient data, and their analysis, aiming at a better understanding of the disease and the development of targeted therapy protocols. This attracted several visitors to the booth for further details on heavy ion beam therapy and the HITRIplus project.

The conceptual design of the heavy ion beam therapy panels was proposed by Yiota Foka and, after feedback from the CNAO communication team, they were realised by the office of Kaprinis Architects based on material provided by HITRIplus partners. The exhibition space and facilities, printing and setting up of the large, 5 m long panels, were offered by BEYOND. They were placed across the main stage of BEYOND, where its inauguration took place, with the participation of political and business/industry representatives. These panels highlighted the main aims of the HITRIplus project and in particular the offered opportunities for transnational access (TNA) to the four European heavy ion therapy centres and the GSI heavy-ion research centre.  In addition, via a QR code, interested visitors were directed to the dedicated web page set up by Papageorgiou Hospital providing detailed information and guidelines including necessary administrative steps for the TNA applications. While the HITRIplus banner attracted visitors with its general, well-visible information, the recently updated HITRIplus TNA leaflet, provided additional details on the TNA opportunities, to-take-home. A space in front of the panels, shaped like an “auditorium”, allowed visitors to watch the HITRIplus video dedicated to TNA access.

Dynamic young students of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki voluntarily participated as guides attracting attention and positive comments with their enthusiasm and clear popularized explanations. They also made sure to advertise the upcoming HITRIplus clinical school, as they are also voluntarily assisting with its organization. This led to invitations by journalists for interviews including a real-time discussion in a popular daily radio emission.

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