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Recent Press Releases:

FLASH Proton Therapy: Uncovering the Optimal Delivery Technique

(July 28, 2022) FLASH radiotherapy, which delivers therapeutic radiation at ultrahigh dose rates and offers the potential to vastly reduce normal tissue toxicity while maintaining anti-tumor activity, was the topic of a Best-in-Physics presentation at the American Association of Physicists in Medicine Annual Meeting. Eric Diffenderfer, MD, an assistant professor of Radiation Oncology, presented and compared four FLASH proton delivery techniques.

American Society for Radiation Oncology Awards Fellow Designations

(July 19, 2022) The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) fellow designation honors individuals who made significant contributions to the society and radiation oncology through research, patient care, education, or service to the field. Only 421 of ASTRO’s 10,000-plus members around the world have received this designation since 2006. Alexander Lin, MD, vice chair of Faculty Affairs and medical director of the Roberts Proton Therapy Center in the department of Radiation Oncology, received the honor this year.

Potential Target for Future Cancer Therapies Found in a Stress Protein

(June 13, 2022) A stress protein that is overactive in many types of tumor cells also has a key role in tumor-supporting cells called fibroblasts, and may be a good target for future cancer treatments, suggests a study published in Nature Cell Biology. According to senior author Constantinos Koumenis, PhD, the Richard H. Chamberlain Professor of Research Oncology in the department of Radiation Oncology, “Every tumor we’ve looked at upregulates ATF4 and that inhibiting ATF4 could work against many types of cancer, which we are now actively pursuing.” Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

NEJM Study on Four Decades of U.S. Medical Faculty Diversity

(April 14, 2022) Data in the New England Journal of Medicine points to an urgent need to achieve workforce diversity in academic medicine. The study’s author, Neha Vapiwala, MD, a professor of Radiation Oncology, conveyed the importance of addressing imbalances in representation to support all populations served, and that academic medical institutions must foster an inclusive environment and focus on retention and promotion of individuals from underrepresented communities.

Penn Medicine Awarded $12.3M NIH Grant to Study Ultra-Fast, High-Dose FLASH Radiation Therapy for Cancer

(March 1, 2022) The Department of Radiation Oncology will use the $12.3 million, five-year NIH grant to compare the ability of proton, carbon and electron radiotherapy to protect normal tissues from harmful effects while controlling or eradicating solid tumors of the gastrointestinal tract, lungs, soft tissues throughout the body, and bones. This research will include delving deep into the molecular mechanisms that cause toxicity and to help minimize these effects on normal tissue, so that the new technology—called FLASH, due to its incredible speed—can move toward clinical trials. Listen to Dr. Costas Koumenis here give an interview with Oncology Tube on March 14. 

Scientists Study Microbiome’s Role in CAR-T Outcomes in Cancer Patients

(January 10, 2022) As cancer-killing CAR-T cells course through the body, they make occasional pit stops at the gut. What they do there — and which gut microbes they meet up with — could potentially change the prospects of these engineered immune cells. Andrea Facciabene, PhD, a research associate professor of Radiation Oncology and Obstetrics/Gynecology, presented data during ASH 2021 on gut microbiota tuning in lymphoma. Preclinical research including murine-model work evaluated the potential benefit of gut microbiota tuning in patients with acute lymphoid leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Diversity Trends by Sex and Underrepresented in U.S. in Oncology and Radiation: Over 5 Decades

(January 4, 2022) Neha Vapiwala, MD, a professor of Radiation Oncology, spoke with Oncology Tube on data regarding diversity in oncology faculty being important to improve care and address disparities for the diverse U.S. population with cancer. Radiation and medical oncology faculty specifically have seen a rise of women in the field, yet more must be done to increase the underrepresented in medicine. Oncologic faculty diversity is a critical strategy for improving cancer care and addressing health inequities in an increasingly diverse U.S. cancer community.


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