Our faculty investigators and researchers in Radiation Oncology focus on some of the most innovative discoveries and impactful areas in oncology to help bring quality treatment care options to our patients.
We have a broad-ranging clinical research portfolio of approximately 90 therapeutic trials, many that are supported by federal and state sponsors, industry partners, philanthropy and institutional awards.
Our research areas align with our clinical priorities and expertise, including but not limited to:
- Proton Therapy
- Stereotactic Body Radiation Treatment (SBRT)
- Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation
- Stereotactic Radiosurgery
- Immuno-Radiation Therapy
- Chemo-Radiation Therapy
Radiation Oncology Strategic Initiatives
The MD Anderson Radiation Oncology division faculty leadership have prioritized several key discovery and educational areas to focus, guide and advance translational research toward improving radiation therapies. This vision is represented in the Radiation Oncology Strategic Initiatives (ROSI), which comprises six pillars: Advanced Imaging, Global Radiation Treatment Access, Immuno-Radiation Therapy, Particle Therapy, Predictive Biomarkers, and FLASH Radiation Therapy. These priority pillars are supported by five cross-cutting infrastructure platforms, including: Data science, clinical trials and radiation oncology network research, education, health services research, and quality and safety.
Radiation Oncology Clinical Research Council
Our clinical research portfolio management and study prioritization for the division is guided by the specialty sections’ leadership and the Clinical Research Council (CRC), co-chaired by Zhongxing Liao, M.D., Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology and Sam Beddar, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Radiation Physics.
Access to Clinical Trials
Our experienced and compassionate clinical research teams support Radiation Oncology trials at the Main campus, as well as in the Houston Area Locations (HALs) including West Houston, Sugar Land, Woodlands and League City. Patients who are interested in participating in a clinical trial should contact their provider for guidance and additional information.
Physician Scientists Group
The Radiation Oncology division's Research Physician-Scientist Program (PSP) serves to facilitate synergy and collaboration among the lab groups, and enables their success at bridging translational research and clinical practice. The PSP significantly contributes to the growth of Radiation Oncology research and also further supports the goals of the organization.
Physicians Scientists Group Interests
Investigators are exploring how the microbiome may influence the ability of the body’s own immune system to attack HPV-laden cancer cells. Our physician scientists are assessing how changes in the microbiome affect patient outcomes to cancer therapy, such as radiation therapy. Their findings raise the possibility of manipulating the microbiome to “engineer” health and to improve responses to cancer therapies.
Radiation therapy has been shown to negatively affect the immune system. Conversely, radiation therapy has also been shown to enhance positive responses to immunotherapy. Research on the immune-modulating effects of radiation therapy on tumors will ultimately lead to new combinations of cancer treatments and treatment regimens.
Standard and emerging treatment modalities of radiation therapy delivery, including particle therapy (e.g., proton therapy), Gamma Knife®, brachytherapy, stereotactic body radiation treatment (SBRT), which was pioneered by our physician scientist Albert Koong, M.D., Ph.D. for treating pancreatic cancer; intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT), and FLASH radiation therapy. This research will help overcome significant hurdles for cancer patient’s well-being and life-extending treatment options.
One of the latest advances in radiation therapy, FLASH delivers radiation at ultra-high dose rates, which are approximately 100 times faster than conventional radiation therapy delivery methods. FLASH radiation therapy may be one of the greatest breakthroughs in radiation therapy in decades. FLASH radiation therapy research will facilitate the translation of this paradigm-shift radiation therapy delivery method to the clinic.
Using high-energy charged particles, such as protons, in radiation therapy is considered cutting-edge due to its healthy tissue-sparing effects. It is an attractive therapeutic option for many cancer patients. A wide variety of cancers can be treated with proton therapy. MD Anderson Cancer Center was the first institution in the United States and second in the world to implement intensity modulated proton therapy (IMPT).
Biomarkers can be used to diagnose cancer as well as to predict cancer patient outcomes. Research on biomarkers will help identify which type of radiation therapy is best for each patient. Biomarker research in the division will lead to planning safer and more efficacious radiation therapy for cancer patients and more precisely diagnose cancer subtypes.
The Department of Radiation Oncology Research Physician Scientist Program is comprised of the following faculty members:
Radiation Oncology Wet Labs
- Lauren E. Colbert, M.D.
- Steven J. Frank, M.D.
- David Grosshans M.D., Ph.D.
- Ann Klopp, M.D.
- Simona Shaitelman, M.D., Ed.M.
- Cullen Taniguchi, M.D., Ph.D.
- James Welsh, M.D.
- Wendy A. Woodward, M.D., Ph.D.
- Albert C. Koong, M.D., Ph.D.
- Michael Spiotto, M.D.
- Steven H. Lin, M.D., Ph.D.
- Zhongxing Liao, M.D.
- Kevin Nead, M.D.
- Devarati Mitra, M.D., Ph.D.
- Chad Tang, M.D.
Radiation Oncology Dry Labs
Radiation Physics Labs
Annual Research & Education Newsletter
Explore some of the highlighted initiatives and achievements led by our faculty, staff and trainees, as well as major events throughout the fiscal year 2020 (FY20).