Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Radiation Biology Division

The long-term goal of the Radiation Biology Research Program in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania is to improve the outcome of cancer patients through an improved understanding of how ionizing and non-ionizing radiation interacts with biological tissues, as well as the fundamental processes that dictate the pathogenesis, survival and death of cancer cells in the context of the tumor microenvironment. Multiple investigators are brought together in this program to identify the molecular and physiological pathways influencing the response to treatment of tumors and normal tissues. Ongoing efforts are targeted at developing treatments combining radiotherapy with immunotherapy, optimizing precision (personalized) Radiotherapy and Photodynamic Therapy, and applying innovative imaging approaches to target radiotherapy for improving patient outcome. Our program is unique in the breadth and depth of the research available and in the wealth of collaborative activities, from molecular studies of how the tumor microenvironment influences tumor response to radio/chemotherapy, to translational projects involving animal models, as well as clinical trials. The research in the Radiation Biology Division is truly "bench-to-bedside". Current support for our research and educational goals to Division PIs includes 2  Program Project grants (P01s)  in Photodynamic Therapy and the Unfolded Protein Response & Cancer, a PCORI grant to perform pragmatic trials at the National Level on the use of Protons to treat Breast Cancer, 6 R01s and 3 DoD grants. Multiple investigators in the Division and the Department are further supported by industry and foundation grants. Moreover, a NIH R25 Summer Undergraduate training grant to train new generation of scientists in Radiation and Imaging Sciences (SUPERS) is currently in its 6th year of funding. Our preclinical research efforts are enhanced with an advanced photon small animal treatment core facility (SARRP) and a dedicated Proton animal treatment room. In all, the aggregate annual budget for research support totals over 7 million dollars. The Division has a dedicated administrative staff that manages these grants, as well as several lecture series that feature collaborators and renowned scientists from across the globe. In recent years the Division has ranked number 1 or 2 in National Institutes of Health grant funding among comparable programs in the country. We welcome you to click on any of the investigators below for more details of our ongoing research.

Research Updates

Press, Awards, Funding News, and Recent Publications


James M. Metz, M.D.



Name: Costas Koumenis, PhD, Vice-Chair and Director of Research and Professor
Research Areas: Delineation of mechanisms of resistance to tumor microenvironmental stress, with emphasis on the Unfolded Protein Response in cancer; Development of small molecule agents to target these mechanisms as novel targeted modalities; Development of novel radiosensitizers.
Email | Phone: (215) 898-0076 | View Faculty Profile | View Lab Website | PPG UPR in Cancer


Name: Theresa M. Busch, PhD, Associate Director of Research and Professor
Research Areas: Investigation of photodynamic therapy (PDT) for the treatment of solid malignancies; Study of tumor blood vessel structure and function as determinants of tumor response to therapy; Modulation of vascular microenvironment and survival signaling toward sensitization of tumors to PDT.
Email | Phone: (215) 573-3168 | View Faculty Profile | View Lab Website | PDT P01 page


Name: Keith Cengel, MD, PhD, Associate Professor
Research Areas: Investigating interactions between dose heterogeneity and growth factor/cytokines signaling in determining the therapeutic index of radiation therapy (RT) and photodynamic therapy (PDT).
Email | Phone: (215) 615-5312 | View Faculty Profile | View Lab Website| PDT P01 page


Name: Jay F. Dorsey, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor
Research Areas: Radiation theranostics; Circulating Tumor Biomarkers; Therapeutic Death Receptor/ISR modulation in glioma.
Email | Phone: (215) 898-1080 | View Faculty Profile | View Lab Website


Name: Sydney M. Evans, VMD, Professor
Research Areas: Biomarkers including circulating tumor vesicles (microvesicles) and hypoxia; Mechanisms of tumor therapy resistance; Effects of tumor hypoxia on the radiation response of tumors.
Email | Phone: (215) 898-0074 | View Faculty Profile | View Lab Website

Image result for andrea facciabene

Name: Andrea Facciabene, PhD, Assistant Professor
Research Areas: Immunotherapy and investigation of the network of immune responses to tumors; Basic research including the development of two new vaccination strategies using mitochondria isolated from tumors and tumor vasculature antigen; Study of regulation of immune surveillance and the tumor microenvironment by the gut microbiome; Clinic research including the development of new preclinical immunotherapies.
Email | Phone: (215)746-7071 | View Faculty Profile | View Lab Website


Name: Yi Fan, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor
Research Areas: Endothelial cells; Cancer stem cells; Angiogenesis; Endothelial-mesenchymal transition; Macrophage transition; Metabolic dysfunction; Translational control; Brain tumor; Lung cancer; The role of tumor microenvironment in tumor progression and therapeutic resistance with a focus on vascular niche.
Email | Phone: (215) 898-9291 | View Faculty Profile | View Lab Website


Name: Gary D. Kao, MD, PhD, Associate Professor
Research Areas: Assays and animal models for investigating novel strategies for improving the efficacy of radiation therapy;  Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and molecular profiling of CTCs for personalizing precision medicine.
Email | Phone: (215) 573-2285 | View Faculty Profile | View Lab Website


Name: Ann R. Kennedy, D.Sc., Richard Chamberlain Professor
Research Areas: Elucidation of mechanisms by which significant doses of ionizing radiation can result in adverse health effects, with particular focus on radiation induced carcinogenesis and acute effects; Development of agents that can prevent or mitigate the adverse effects caused by radiation exposure in normal cells and tissues.
Email | Phone: (215) 898-0079 | View Faculty Profile | View Lab Website


Name: Cameron Koch, Professor
Research Areas:
Email | Phone: (215) 898-0073 | View Faculty Profile | View Lab Website


Name: Amit Maity, MD, PhD, Professor and Vice Chair of Clinical Division
Research Areas: Identification of  drugs that increase the radiation response through modification of the tumor microenvironment and/or tumor metabolism (including oxygen metabolism) and understanding their mechanisms;  Combine radiotherapy with immune checkpoint inhibition.
Email | Phone: (215) 662-2712 | View Faculty Profile | View Lab Website


Name: Andy Minn, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor
Research Areas: Gene programs and signaling pathways discovered through unbiased genomic approaches that regulate cancer metastasis and its resistance to either conventional treatment or immune therapies; Study how cancer cells acquire metastatic and treatment resistant phenotypes.
Email | Phone: (215) 746-2694 | View Faculty Profile


Name: Tim Zhu, PhD, Professor
Research Areas: PDT physics and external beam treatment planning; Development of explicit and implicit dosimetry of PDT and light fluence rate calculation; Development of benchmark database for external beams (electron, photon, and proton) and image co-registrations; Development of real-time treatment planning system for interstitial PDT and intracavitory PDT utilizing an IR navigation system.
Email | Phone: (215) 662-4043 | View Faculty Profile | View Lab Website

List of Full Division Staff and Personnel (Pennkey required)

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