Dr. Bankson earned his B.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University. As Professor in the Department of Imaging at MD Anderson, he leads the Magnetic Resonance Engineering Laboratory and serves as Deputy Director of the Small Animal Imaging Facility.
Dr. Bankson’s research interests are focused on the advancement of healthcare through technological innovations in magnetic resonance imaging involving detector design, RF and systems engineering, pulse sequences, signal encoding, and signal and imaging processing. Through SAIF, he has come to enjoy close collaboration with physician/scientists, radiologists, oncologists, and basic cancer researchers to explore new opportunities and identify critical needs to ensure that imaging science advances alongside novel therapeutic approaches to improve the next generation of clinical care. His academic focus is on quantitative imaging, including dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE)-MRI and the development and application of metabolic imaging using hyperpolarized (HP) substrates such as [1-13C]-pyruvate. His ultimate goal is to identify and address key technical limitations to these technologies and facilitate their translation into routine use for evaluating disease and response to therapy in clinical care for cancer.
Dr. Brock earned her B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences from the University of Michigan. She is the Executive Director for the Image Guided Cancer Therapy (IGCT) Research Program at MD Anderson, Director of the Morfeus Laboratory, and MPI of the IGCT T32 Training Program. She is board certified by the American Board of Radiology in Therapeutic Medical Physics.
Dr. Brock's primary research interest in the interaction of human modeling and radiation therapy. She has investigated the ability of biomechanical models to enhance the veracity of human deformable modeling, and has evaluated the accuracy of deformable alignment methods applied to radiation oncology problems such as contour propagation and dose accumulation. Dr. Brock developed MORFEUS, a comprehensive system for deformable modeling, and leads several investigations in its use on radiation therapy, interventional radiology, surgery, correlative pathology, and in other areas of interest. Over the past few years, Dr. Brock's work has expanded the biomechanical models to describe anatomical response to radiation, including volume changes and position within the human body.
Bruno C. Odisio, M.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Interventional Radiology
Co-Director of Research, Department of Interventional Radiology
Medical Director, Image Guided Cancer Therapy (IGCT) Research Program
Division of Diagnostic Imaging
Dr. Odisio serves as an Associate Professor and Co-Director of Research at the Department of Interventional Radiology, Division of Diagnostic Imaging and is a Medical Director for the Image Guided Cancer Therapy Research Program at MD Anderson. He earned his M.D. at the Federal University of Pernambuco (Recife, Brazil) and completed his Clinical Residency in Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging and a Clinical Fellowship in Non-Vascular Interventional and Emergency Radiology at the Hospital das Clinicas Sao Paolo University Medical School (Sao Paulo, Brazil). Dr. Odisio also completed a Clinical Fellowship in Advanced Interventional Radiology at MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is board certified in Diagnostic Radiology and Interventional Radiology.
Dr. Odisio’s main area of clinical and research interest is the use of loco-regional therapies for the treatment and palliation of primary and secondary liver malignancies. Additionally, Dr. Odisio investigates the use of advanced imaging technologies for improving and predicting outcomes after minimally invasive procedures such as chemoembolization and liver ablation, as well its potential use in combination with hepatobiliary surgical procedures. He is MPI on an NIH-funded R01 investigating the improvement in local control using advanced image guidance for focal ablation of malignancies in the liver.
Dr. Mark “Marty” Pagel directs the Contrast Agent Molecular Engineering Laboratory (CAMEL), which focuses on molecular imaging research at the pre-clinical and clinical levels to interrogate biomarkers of the tumor microenvironment. He received dual B.A. degrees in Chemistry and Biology from Washington University in St. Louis and his Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Pagel serves as Professor in the Department of Cancer Systems Imaging, Division of Diagnostic Imaging.
As Director of CAMEL, Dr. Pagel leads several multidisciplinary research studies spanning chemistry, biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, cancer biology, immunology, biomedical engineering, medical physics, and radiology. CAMEL seeks to develop molecular imaging methods for the evaluation of biomarkers of the tumor microenvironment, including extracellular acidosis, hypoxia, enzyme activity, and vascular perfusion. The lab specializes in the synthesis and characterization of chemical contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), PET/MRI, and MultiSpectral Optoacoustic Tomography (MSOT). They develop advanced acquisition and analysis methods that are tailored for each contrast agent and tumor biomarker. Their research spans “bench to bedside,” including basic science investigations, small animal imaging studies, and clinical translation.
Given to these multidisciplinary activities, CAMEL provides a great environment for collaborations and for training researchers who are interested in molecular imaging of cancer. The CAMEL group includes trainees from a variety of backgrounds who are developing careers as independent, collaborative principal investigators. Dr. Pagel provides strong coaching and guidance for career development. Finally, Dr. Pagel supports the molecular imaging research community by organizing meetings and conferences, reviewing grant applications and manuscripts, and facilitating academia-industry relationships.
Dr. Erik Cressman is an Associate Professor of Interventional Radiology at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Cressman received his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Utah in 1989 and his Doctorate in Medicine from Indiana University School of Medicine in 1999. He completed his residency in diagnostic radiology as well, and was the inaugural B. Leonard Holman Scholar. Dr. Cressman did his fellowship training in interventional radiology, also at Indiana University, after which he began his career at the University of Minnesota as an Assistant Professor in 2005 where he served as Fellowship Program Director. In 2013, he joined MD Anderson Cancer Center and currently serves as a Research Advisor for the MD Anderson UTHealth Houston GSBS Ph.D. Advisory Committee. He is Chair for the Society of Interventional Radiology Grants and Research Division, was elected a Fellow for the Society of Interventional Radiology, and is the President of the Society of Thermal Medicine. Dr. Cressman also served as the scientific program chair for the 2015 Society of Thermal Medicine annual meeting. His clinical interests are in Embolization and Ablation, focused on primary liver cancer and metastatic disease. His research interests are in Tumor Heterogeneity and Metabolism, Thermochemistry, Cell Stress, Cancer Immunology, Thermal Imaging, and Mass Spectrometry Imaging. His goal is to improve patient care and outcomes by developing new approaches to minimally invasive, image-guided oncologic interventions based on the basic science of cancer and cell stress.
Dr. Cressman uses minimally invasive image-guided techniques for diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. His background as a chemist with industrial experience prior to becoming an interventional radiologist provides a unique perspective to see opportunities not otherwise apparent. He views the body as a flask in which to perform reactions in situ with diagnostic and therapeutic purpose. He invented the concept of in vivo thermochemistry, a means to deliver the therapy using image guidance, and seeks to understand and exploit the full potential of picotechnology. He established the Image-Guided Chemistry Lab (ICGL) and has built a group with collaborations in essential areas such as thermal imaging and stress responses. His work in thermochemical ablation and thermoembolization opens new frontiers in minimally invasive therapies with multiple simultaneous angles of attack against solid tumors. He has established the new field of convergent orthogonal stress biology. Key to this effort is quantifying the quality of drug delivery with image-guidance and evaluating the impact of interventions. Imaging by CT, fluoroscopy and MRI for both guidance and monitoring is essential. Knowledge of the biological ramifications of these interventions will enable the optimization of the long-term therapeutic benefit. Since few drugs are fluorescent, mass spectrometry imaging is now also an essential component of his work.
David Piwnica-Worms, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Department of Cancer Systems Imaging
Executive Director, Quantitative Imaging Analysis Core (QIAC)
Gerald Dewey Dodd, Jr., Endowed Distinguished Chair in Diagnostic Imaging
Division of Diagnostic Imaging
D. Piwnica-Worms Laboratory Webpage
The tools of molecular imaging can provide spatially- and temporally-resolved information on biological structures and functions. Because investigators have increasingly recognized the importance of context in the study of gene expression and protein function as well as understanding regulatory mechanisms within cellular micro-environments, many have turned to non-invasive imaging technologies to advance research on human health and disease. These non-invasive imaging strategies can interrogate protein processing, protein-protein interactions, gene expression and flux through metabolic pathways in real-time in cells and live animals, and are increasingly useful in understanding signal transduction and pathobiology of human diseases, including cancer, to facilitate development of effective therapies. His group has used these approaches to investigate mechanisms of regulation of IkB/NFkB signaling, b -catenin processing, multidrug resistance, EGFR signaling, and innate immunity. They have developed high fidelity molecular-specific pharmacodynamic reporters of several anti-cancer drugs useful in whole animal models. They have created a widely-used luciferase protein fragment complementation platform, dual-color protein interaction switches, and fusion reporters for bioluminescent analysis of protein processing in living animals, each with broad applications in biotechnology and biomedicine. By making these constructs and methods freely available, the team helped catalyze the application of genetically-encoded molecular imaging approaches to diverse medical and basic biological questions in a variety of fields. On other fronts, Piwnica-Worm’s group has moved several of their scientific discoveries from bench to bedside, facilitating the goals of precision medicine by translating novel PET tracers and cell-penetrating activatable peptides toward clinical imaging applications.
Dr. Piwinica-Worms develops tools of molecular imaging that can provide spatially- and temporally resolved information on biological structures and functions. His work focuses on the importance of context in the study of gene expression and protein function, as well as understanding regulatory mechanisms within cellular micro-environments, by developing non-invasive imaging technologies to advance research on human health and disease. These non-invasive imaging strategies can interrogate protein processing, protein-protein interactions, gene expression and flux through metabolic pathways in real-time in cells and live animals and are increasingly useful in understanding signal transduction and pathobiology of human diseases, including cancer, to facilitate development of effective therapies. He has been involved in biochemistry and molecular imaging research for over 25 years and has successfully administered research projects and center grants, trained fellows and students, collaborated with a broad cohort of researchers, and produced many peer-reviewed publications directly relevant to this field.
Dr. Court’s original training and employment were in medical imaging, after which he trained in radiation oncology. He developed CT-guided radiotherapy techniques, and image-registration software and was responsible for the clinical introduction of intensity- modulated radiotherapy, and many image-guided treatment setup techniques. He was also responsible for many clinical physics tasks, including quality assurance and coordination of network clinics. He moved back to MD Anderson in 2010 and is currently leading a research group with 8+ PhD students and several faculty and computational scientists, focusing on two research areas: the applications of image analysis in oncology, including creation of models to predict overall survival based on clinical and imaging factors, and the development of tools to support access to radiation therapy in low-resource settings (including automated treatment planning). Dr. Court also chairs the Medical Physics Graduate Program Admissions Committee, which focuses on recruiting for diversity and holistic admissions review.
Dr. Sawakuchi focuses on the study of DNA damage response induced by x-ray, proton and carbon-ion therapeutic radiations. His goal is to find weak links in the chain of events of radiation-induced DNA damage response that could be leveraged to radiosensitize tumors as well as stimulate the immune system to combat tumors while minimizing toxicity to healthy tissue. His lab works at the interface of radiation biology and translational radiation oncology. Particularly, his lab has been studying how therapeutic proton and carbon-ion beams damage DNA and how cells repair those damages. He has developed and utilized time-lapse fluorescence microscopy to image biochemical processes in live cells. Additionally, he has developed novel experimental techniques to measure radiation at the sub-structure cell level. He utilizes Monte Carlo simulations of radiation transport to understand the response of biological systems
Dr. Chung’s clinical practice includes the treatment of primary and secondary CNS neoplasms. Her primary research interests have focused on personalized image-guided approaches for the management of brain tumors and metastases. Specifically, this includes the investigation of novel combinations of systemic therapy and radiosurgery for brain metastases and the evaluation of imaging biomarkers of both response and toxicity following treatment. With a translational approach, her preclinical work has included the investigation of conformal radiation in combination with targeted anti-angiogenic therapy in a murine intracranial brain tumor model with serial multiparametric MRI and biofluid measures to discover promising biomarkers of response to guide personalized treatment of brain tumors. The findings from this preclinical work has led to several ongoing clinical trials evaluating serial MRI biomarkers in patients treated with radiosurgery as well as a Phase I dose-escalation trial of anti-angiogenic agent (Sunitinib) in concurrently with radiosurgery. In terms of image-guided therapy, Dr. Chung has also lead the early clinical evaluation of a novel image-guided Gamma Knife radiosurgery unit that incorporates cone-beam CT and infrared intrafraction motion-monitoring. In addition to tumor directed therapy, Dr. Chung is investigating imaging measures and potential treatments of radiation injury in the brain through her translational research and as the principal investigator of a multi-centre Phase II randomized clinical trial of bevacizumab + steroids vs. placebo + steroids through the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology collaborative group.
Dr. Chung was recruited to join MD Anderson in 2016 as an Assistant Professor and Director of MR Research to build a program that would facilitate collaborative research studies of MRI guided radiotherapy including the use of MRI for target delineation, real-time MR image guidance of radiation delivery and imaging biomarkers of treatment response and normal tissue toxicity. She is the lead PI for the Tumor Measurement Initiative, a multi-million dollar institutionally funded priority project. As the Director of the Advanced Imaging Initiative within the Radiation Oncology Strategic Initiative, she has established a standardized, clinically operational MR simulation program within Radiation Oncology that enables MR imaging in treatment position across all major tumor sites. This has been complemented with an MR-guided therapy program utilizing the MR-linac.
Dr. Fuller's research focus remains development of evidence-based "personalized radiotherapy" techniques by incorporation of novel imaging methodologies. To date, the bulk of his work has focused on improving multimodality (e.g. PET-CT, MRI, US) imaging for target delineation in the multi-institutional setting. He has had specific and singular expertise in imaging physics and human imaging trial design, analysis and execution, acquired as part of his Ph.D. and post-doctoral training. As a formal component of the MD Anderson K12 Paul Calabresi Clinical Trial training program, in addition to direct instruction in clinical trial design and imaging informatics, he has completed ABME board subspecialty certification in Clinical Informatics in addition to primary ABR certification in Radiation Oncology. As a radiation oncologist with informatics certification and formal medical physics training, and is uniquely positioned to execute image-guided radiotherapy clinical trials.
Steven H. Lin, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology
Division of Radiation Oncology
Dr. Lin is a Physician-Scientist and Radiation Oncologist who specializes in thoracic malignancies. His laboratory is committed to developing approaches that will enhance traditional cancer therapies. They have developed a novel radiation sensitizer screen approach to identify in a high throughput manner targeted therapies that could immediately be translated to the clinical setting. Through this effort, two phase I clinical trials have been launched and accruing as a direct result of this research. Dr. Lin continues to apply novel approaches to identify other drivers of treatment resistance, and seek innovative strategies to counterbalance the resistance mechanisms. He is applying candidate gene knockdown or knockout screens to identify immunomodulators or radiation sensitivity modulators. The focus is on clinical translation, taking potential drug candidates and testing them in preclinical studies to validate the utility of combining radiation sensitizers or immunomodulators with standard of care chemoradiotherapy or radiotherapy alone approaches for the management of lung and esophageal cancer. Promising agents are brought to the clinic as investigator-initiated trials.
Dr. Lin’s primary research interest focused on ways to enhance radiotherapy cure rates in thoracic cancers, particularly lung and esophageal cancers. One approach is through identifying and developing predictive biomarkers for therapy responsiveness. This could come in the form of functional imaging or blood/tissue-based biomarkers. His lab has discovered a strong association of high-grade lymphopenia and poor clinical outcomes in patients that appears to be related to certain patient, tumor, and treatment characteristics. Efforts are underway to identify strategies to mitigate this treatment related toxicities. Recently they have completed a trial in esophageal cancer that evaluated the utility of Diffusion Weighted MRI on CRT responsiveness. His long-term goal is to develop and validate the aforementioned advanced imaging techniques and translational biomarkers early on in therapy to target non-responders early on in therapy using either radiation enhancing drugs or dose escalated radiation schedules to enhance local control rates.
Stephen Y. Lai, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Head & Neck Surgery
Medical Director, Image Guided Cancer Therapy (IGCT) Program
Division of Surgery
Stephen Y. Lai, M.D., Ph.D., is a Professor of Head and Neck Surgery at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and board-certified head and neck cancer surgeon. He serves as the Quality Officer for the Department of Head and Neck Surgery. Dr. Lai received his undergraduate degree from Stanford University and his medical and doctorate degrees from The University of California, San Francisco. He performed his residency at The University of Pennsylvania and completed his fellowship in oncologic head and neck/cranial base surgery at The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. His clinical expertise is in head and neck cancers with a special emphasis on oral cavity cancer, thyroid and parathyroid disease, salivary gland neoplasms, conservation laryngeal surgery and stereotactic radiosurgery. Dr. Lai takes a multidisciplinary approach to the management of head and neck cancer patients with active participation in cutting-edge treatment protocols.
Dr. Lai’s clinical expertise is in head and neck cancers with as special emphasis on oral cavity, thyroid and parathyroid disease, salivary gland neoplasms and conservation laryngeal surgery. He takes a multidisciplinary approach to the management of head and neck cancer patients with active participation in cutting edge treatment protocols. He has developed a research program focused on developing more effective treatment options for head and neck cancers, including ATC and HNSCC. In that effort, he has been working to employ a variety of imaging modalities to assess the effectiveness of targeted therapies in a preclinical platform utilizing xenograft murine models of thyroid and head and neck cancer. His lab has been using this system to identify quantifiable imaging-based biomarkers that may serve to predict tumor response to a specific treatment regimen, resulting in multiple clinical and technical publications. His work has often times required the assembly of a team of co-investigators across a number of scientific and clinical disciplines to complement our scientific knowledge and skills to advance this research directly in the clinical setting. He has also worked closely with trainees and other faculty members to develop researchers focused on head and neck cancers. In his educational role, he has mentored and educated many trainees and fellow in both the clinical and laboratory setting across the entire spectrum of basic, translational and clinical research.
Andrew G. Sikora, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Head & Neck Surgery
Director of Research, Department of Head & Neck Surgery
Division of Surgery
Dr. Andrew Sikora is a Professor of Head and Neck Surgery at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. He also serves as Director of Research for Head and Neck Surgery. Dr. Sikora’s clinical expertise is in oropharyngeal (throat) cancer and human papillomavirus (HPV)-related head and neck cancer. His research is focused on tumor immunology, and cancer immunotherapy. Dr. Sikora serves as a member of the National Institute of Health (NIH) National Cancer Institute’s Head and Neck Cancer Core Committee, and Immuno-Oncology Translational Network (IOTN) Steering Committee.
Dr. Sikora’s clinical expertise is in head and neck cancers with a special emphasis on oropharyngeal (throat) cancer and human papillomavirus (HPV)-related head and neck cancer. He has dedicated much of his professional career to understanding the immunology of HPV-associated oropharynx cancer (HPVOPC) and leveraging this knowledge to develop innovative therapeutic approaches. As a cancer immunologist, his laboratory-based research is focused on identifying and reversing mechanisms of tumor-associated immune suppression, often using preclinical models of HPVOPC. His clinical research efforts are similarly directed towards understanding the interactions of the immune system with standard of care therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation in HPVOPC patients; and testing novel immune-based therapeutic approaches. He serves on the NCI Head and Neck Cancer Steering Committee and the NRG Cooperative Clinical Trial Group Head and Neck Cancer Core Committees.
Frederick Lang, M.D., is the chair and director of clinical research of Neurosurgery at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He joined the faculty in 1996 after completing the Neurosurgical Oncology Fellowship with the department. He is an NIH-funded, translational researcher who has published extensively on gene, viral, and cellular therapies for brain tumors, and is principal investigator on multiple clinical trials that investigate these new approaches. He is a past president of the Society of Neuro-Oncology and past chair of the AANS/CNS Section on Tumors. He has published more than 150 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and has served on the editorial board of several prominent journals. Currently, he serves as the PI for MD Anderson’s Brain Cancer SPORE grant, one of only five such federally funded grants in the country, and co-leader of MD Anderson’s Glioblastoma Moon Shot™.
Dr. Lang’s research focuses on developing novel biological agents (genes, viruses, stem cells, exosomes, siRNA) for the treatment of brain tumors with the goal of translating these new therapeutic approaches to the clinic. Initial work with adenoviral-mediated p53 gene therapy culminated in a unique phase I trial exploiting histological analyses of post-treatment specimens that demonstrated the need to improve delivery methods for these types of biological therapies. Subsequent work led to the “bench to bedside” development of a novel replication-competent, tumor-selective, tropism-enhanced oncolytic adenovirus, Delta-24-RGD, which is currently being tested in several clinical trials. A clinical trial of MSCs carrying Delta-24-RGD is planned to commence in the next quarter. Most recently, Dr. Lang extended the clinical application of MSCs to include exosomes derived from MSCs as novel biological nanoparticles. He has shown that ex vivo-cultured MSCs can be engineered to package microRNA into exosomes and that these engineered exosomes home to gliomas and can deliver anti-glioma microRNA to brain tumors after systemic infusion, leading to clinical efficacy. Defining the ideal microRNA/siRNA cargoes to be loaded into these exosomes, developing strategies for combining anti-glioma exosomes with Delta-24-RGD, and translating these approaches to the clinic are current goals.
Anirban Maitra, M.B.B.S.
Professor, Department of Neurosurgery
Deputy Division Head for Academic Science, Division of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Scientific Director, Shiekh Ahmed Bin Zayed Al Nahay Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research
Co-Leader, MD Anderson Pancreatic Cancer Moon Shot ®
Division of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Maitra Laboratory Webpage
Dr. Maitra is a Professor of Pathology and Translational Molecular Pathology, and Scientific Director of the Sheikh Ahmed Pancreatic Cancer Research Center at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston (since August 2013). Dr. Maitra is the Principal Investigator of an NCI-funded laboratory dedicated to pancreatic cancer research. Dr. Maitra has trained over three dozen postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, many of whom are now in independent faculty positions in the United States or worldwide.
The arc of his research career has been defined by contributions made in the spheres of genetics and molecular pathology of pancreatic cancer and its precursor lesions, in both human and cognate mouse models of pancreatic neoplasia. Dr. Maitra is deeply committed towards identifying and implementing translational research opportunities in pancreatic cancer that can improve the survival of patients stricken with this disease, with a particular focus on early detection and cancer interception. Dr. Maitra has been a leader on numerous programmatic efforts in pancreatic cancer, funded through both the NCI and foundations such as Stand-Up-To-Cancer/AACR.
He is the Principal Investigator of a NIH-funded laboratory dedicated to pancreatic cancer research, and also the Leader of the Stand Up 2 Cancer - Lustgarten Pancreatic Interception Dream Team. Thus, he has extensive familiarity of working with, and leading, large diverse teams of investigators engaged in a focused area of research. He is the Program Co-Leader of the NCI designated Cancer Center Support Grant (CCGD) where he oversees the integration and direction of Institutional pancreatic cancer basic research and clinical translational efforts. He is also the Co-Leader of the Pancreatic Cancer Moonshot project, a multi-disciplinary effort to improve the survival of this disease beyond incremental advances. The arc of his career has been defined by contributions made in the spheres of genetics and molecular pathology of pancreatic cancer and its precursor lesions, mouse models of pancreatic neoplasia, and experimental therapeutics in pancreatic cancer. He has trained close to 40 postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, many of whom are now in independent faculty positions.