- News and Events
Recent Press Releases:
Interactive Mobile Cancer Apps: Promising, But Formative
(March 17, 2023)
Mobile apps that allow cancer patients to self-report symptoms and outcome data have the potential to help improve care. Justin Bekelman, MD, a professor of Radiation Oncology and director of the Penn Center for Cancer Care Innovation, shared key questions researchers should address to find the best way to incorporate digital health care tools into cancer care.
How One Doctor-Patient Relationship Could Change How Women Are Treated for Gynecologic Cancers
(February 2, 2023)
Retired chemist Dalia Jakas credits radiation oncologist Neil Taunk with curing her uterine cancer without harming her quality of life. Now, she’s empowering his research into how treatment can be improved for future patients.
Penn Medicine Expands Proton Therapy Reach
(February 1, 2023)
News coverage details Penn Medicine’s proton therapy expansion to Lancaster General Health and Virtua Voorhees in South Jersey, explains the differences between proton and photon radiation therapy, and shares one patient’s experience with a radiation therapy clinical trial for breast cancer. As a global leader in proton therapy, Penn Medicine has trained medical professionals around the world and is leading scientific research on the technology, including a nationwide, randomized clinical trial to compare proton and photon therapy for breast cancer treatment. James Metz, MD, the Henry K. Pancoast Professor and chair of Radiation Oncology, and Justin Bekelman, MD, a professor of Radiation Oncology and director of the Penn Center for Cancer Care Innovation, were quoted.
Philadelphia Inquirer • Philadelphia Inquirer (2) • Philadelphia Inquirer (3)
Dogs Paving Way for Potential New Cancer Treatment for Humans
(December 8, 2022) A new study led by Keith A. Cengel, MD, PhD, an associate professor of Radiation Oncology, and Brian Flesner, DVM, an associate professor of Clinical Oncology in the School of Veterinary Medicine, is evaluating the safety and efficacy of treating oral cancer in dogs with a palliative radiation in just two clinic visits. If the treatment, known as FLASH radiotherapy, is successful for animals, it's expected to pave the way for clinical trials in human patients.
A FLASH of radiation may lead to new cancer care for people and pets alike
(November 10, 2022) Palliative radiation therapy for cancer may slow or stop tumor growth and alleviate pain, but in veterinary medicine it is traditionally delivered over the course of several weeks. A new study led by Keith Cengel of the Perelman School of Medicine and Brian Flesner of the School of Veterinary Medicine is evaluating if palliative radiation delivered in just two clinic visits is safe and similar in efficacy to the alternative, treating dogs with oral cancer like Maple, a 13-year-old Labrador retriever owned by Penn Vet alum Meg Ruller. PennToday
Machine-learning Approach Using Step Counts Predicts Hospitalization During Radiotherapy
(October 28, 2022) An artificial intelligence model appeared to predict the likelihood of unplanned hospitalizations during chemoradiation therapy among a cohort of patients with various cancer types. Ying Xiao, PhD, a professor of Radiation Oncology, commented on the results, which were presented at the American Society for Radiation Oncology annual meeting.
Penn Medicine, Virtua Give Early Look at South Jersey’s First Proton Therapy Center
(October 11, 2022) Penn Medicine and Virtua Health gave an early look at South Jersey’s first proton therapy center Tuesday night as part of a clinical partnership to bring advanced cancer care closer to patients in the Garden State. The $45 million project, erected on the campus of Virtua Voorhees Hospital in Camden County, is expected to open to patients by early 2023. The center is one of nearly 50 such facilities — which deliver the most advanced form of radiation therapy — in the country. James Metz, MD, the Henry K. Pancoast Professor and chair of Radiation Oncology, and UPHS CEO Kevin B. Mahoney were quoted.
Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy Awards $4.5 Million to Early Career Researchers
(August 16, 2022) The Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy presented $4.5 million in fellowship and scholarship awards to nine graduate and postdoctoral researchers, including Derek Oldridge, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and Darwin Ye, a PhD candidate in Cancer Biology training in the laboratory of Andy Minn, MD, PhD. Healio
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.