Major Research Programs

Research in the department focuses on:

  • MR guided radiation therapy for external beam radiation therapy (MR-GRT) and brachytherapy (MR-GBT);


  • image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) and adaptive interventions for intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT); Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT) for photons and for intensity-modulated proton therapy (IMPT) for protons;
  • physical and clinical aspects of proton therapy using spot scanning;
  • radiation dose-response assessment, modeling and applications;
  • radiation effects on devices (Pacemakers, ICDs, etc.);
  • radiation dosimetry, including the use of advanced point and volumetric dosimeters for photon and proton quality assurance and real time in vivo dosimetry;
  • development of complex anthropomorphic QA Phantoms to  validate emerging treatment modalities, moving targets and tumor motion management techniques (4D CT, active breathing control, etc.);
  • application of Monte Carlo, pseudo Monte Carlo and deterministic methods to improve and enhance existing treatment and design novel treatment devices;
  • assessment of risks of radiation-induced secondary cancers for photon and proton radiation therapy; and
  • epidemiologic studies of radiation carcinogenesis.

In FY2014, sponsored research funding totaled $21.3 million; in FY 2013, sponsored research funding totaled $13.7 million; and in FY 2012, sponsored research funding totaled $14.4 million.  The department’s research is supported by internal and external sources.

Accolades and Accomplishments

Faculty and staff in the Department of Radiation Physics received accolades from their peers for several articles published in one of the profession’s most respected scientific journals, Physics in Medicine and Biology.  Topics include the following:

  • creating new methods for simplifying calculations of dose distribution from scanning proton beams;
  • developing a new-generation frameless stereotactic radiosurgery system;
  • evaluating spatial accuracy in deformable image registration for visualizing tumors and surrounding normal tissues;
  • estimating the risks of secondary cancers in children being treated with proton therapy for craniospinal tumors;
  • developing real-time in vivo dosimetry systems using miniature plastic scintillators for prostate cancer; and
  • developing 3D dose imaging detectors using volumetric liquid scintillators and polymer gels.

Funding for these and other applied research projects was received from a variety of external federal funding agencies (NIH, DOD, etc.), Industry (Varian Medical Systems, ELEKTA, etc.), the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas and the MD Anderson Sister Institution Network.