Focus Areas of the Radiation Physics Department
Our team in the radiation physics department studies many types of imaging to provide our patients with the most advanced radiation treatment available. Imaging within our research includes MR guided radiation therapy for external beam radiation therapy (MR-GRT) and brachytherapy (MR-GBT), proton radiography and proton CT imaging, image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) and adaptive interventions for intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).
We also focus on the different forms of advanced radiation therapy that deliver radiation beams of different intensities such as Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT) for photons and intensity-modulated proton therapy (IMPT) for protons.
Our team studies the use of advanced point and volumetric dosimeters for photon and proton quality assurance and real-time in vivo dosimetry, including microdosimetry, for photon, proton, and heavy ion radiotherapy.
Other areas within radiation dosimetry we focus on include the development of complex anthropomorphic QA Phantoms to validate emerging treatment modalities, moving targets and tumor motion management techniques. We also ensure the evaluation and optimization of all the quality assurance processes within the radiation oncology division.
Biological Effectiveness of Radiation
Our experts study the biological effects of radiation, including modeling and model assessment, for protons and heavy ions. This includes understanding the physical, biological and immunological characteristics and effects of protons versus photons and their impact on normal tissue toxicity, tumor response and survival outcomes. This enables our experts to make predictions of the tumor and normal tissue responses to radiation using genomic biomarkers which help in the advancement of our cancer research to enhance patient treatments for more complex diseases.
We look at the combination of immunotherapies with radiation to amplify antitumor immune stimulation. This includes metal nanoparticle-mediated radiosensitization and molecular imaging, as well as the assessment of risks of radiation-induced secondary cancers for photon and proton radiation therapy, and epidemiologic studies of radiation carcinogenesis.
We study the application of AI to radiation oncology, including target and normal tissue contouring and treatment planning, and other advanced challenges, as well as the development of automation tools for our own clinic and for clinics with limited resources across the world through MD Anderson’s Radiation Planning Assistant (RPA). This also includes technical and dosimetric solutions for ultra-high FLASH irradiation.
We investigate the radiobiology and the mechanisms of FLASH ultra-high dose rate irradiation and clinical translation of FLASH radiation therapy. We are also engaged in finding technical and dosimetric solutions for ultra-high FLASH irradiation
MD Anderson’s research is supported by internal and external sources. Funding for these and other applied research projects was received from a variety of external federal funding agencies and industry agencies including Varian Medical Systems, ELEKTA, the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) and the MD Anderson Sister Institution Network Fund (SINF).
- In FY2018, sponsored research funding totaled $12.1 million.
- In FY 2019, sponsored research funding totaled $11.2 million.
- In FY 2020, sponsored research funding totaled $14.4 million.