Provision software developer wins international award


Before the Provision Healthcare’s Pronova SC360 sees official action, the work of its developers is receiving national recognition.

A case study submitted by Jacob McCulley, software engineer in research & development at ProNova, won two “Engineering Impact” Awards from National Instruments as part of the international company’s NIWeek 2017 convention. McCulley presented his poster at the event in Austin, Texas, at the end of May.

ProNova was recognized in the “Industrial Machinery and Control” category and as “Humanitarian Award Winner” among 160 entrants.

The case study focused on the proton delivery system, which uses National Instruments products controlled by four different software components that McCulley helped design. As a result, the proton therapy machine is able to delivery intensity modulated pencil beam scanning, providing the most up-to-date precision in this advanced form of proton therapy.

Because protons deliver all their potency at the tumor site, patients don’t suffer the same collateral damage to healthy surrounding tissue as with conventional radiation therapy.

Provision’s system combines intensity modulated radiation therapy, the precise delivery method used in conventional radiation treatment, with pencil beam scanning, technology in which protons are painted across the tumor in a customized array of spots to deliver the optimum dose proton therapy, into one highly focused treatment system.

“With intensity modulated therapy we vary the intensity of the beam to try to minimize how long it takes to deliver in one location,” McCulley said. “This level of precise control makes it possible to deliver a radiological dose within 1 percent of the prescribed dose. It takes pencil beam scanning one step further.”

The case study was based on simulated treatment. The first live patient will be treated using Provision’s system and equipment later this year.

McCulley has worked for ProNova for more than three years and been part of building the new proton therapy equipment from the ground up.

“We have come a long way in a short time. I remember foldout tables and chairs and nothing in this building,” he said, referring to ProNova’s first SC360 installment at the Provision CARES Proton Therapy Center in Knoxville. .

“There were many technical challenges and a lot of hard work put into this application”, McCulley said. “It’s always nice to get acknowledged for you work, but even more rewarding is seeing how excited other people are about what we are doing here.”