Willeke Danckaert

CRIG member

Doctoral fellow – Department of Human Structure and Repair, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University 
Principal investigators: prof. Piet Ost (MD, PhD) and em. prof. dr. ir. Carlos De Wagter

Research focus

Radiotherapy (RT) remains a cornerstone of cancer treatment, either as primary therapy or in combination with surgery and/or systemic therapy. Recent technological advances in the RT-field have allowed for a more precise dose delivery to the tumor, but the off-target doses beyond a few centimeters outside the primary radiation field are rarely known adequately. This unintended dose may not be neglected as it offers no therapeutic benefit and is often spread out over nearby healthy tissues, potentially causing harmful effects to the patient. In addition, treatment planning systems (TPS) do not calculate the doses outside of the main radiation field (lower than 50% of the prescription dose) truthfully due to the limited modeling of scattered radiation.

Accurate knowledge of this unintended dose and its impact is required to correctly interpret clinical results and unravel underlying mechanisms, which is a critical step further than just minimizing the unintended doses to normal tissues. Our aim is (1) to investigate the accuracy of these out-of-field dose calculations by the TPS and (2) to scrutinize how these unintended doses may impact systems and organs – such as the immune system and the gastrointestinal microbiota – that are hypothesized to modulate the clinical response to ionizing radiation.


  • PhD student – Department of Human Structure and Repair (Ghent University) and Department of Radiation Oncology (Ghent University Hospital) (2019 – present).
  • Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences – Major Radiation Sciences, Ghent University (2017 – 2019). Magna Cum Laude
  • Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences, Ghent University (2014 – 2017). Cum Laude

Key publications

  • Impact of radiotherapy parameters on the risk of lymphopenia in urological tumors: a systematic review of the literature. Radiotherapy and Oncology, 2022 (PMID: 35257847)

Contact & links