Department of Radiation Oncology

Department News Archive

Giving Common Antibiotic Before Radiation May Help Body Fight Cancer

(Dec. 9, 2019) Research led by Andrea Facciabene, PhD, an associate professor of Radiation Oncology, and Constantinos Koumenis, PhD, a professor of Radiation Oncology, found the antibiotic vancomycin alters the gut microbiome in a way that can help prime the immune system to more effectively attack tumor cells after radiation therapy. Read it here in JCI.

How Ultrahigh-Dose Radiation Therapy, Interferon, and CAR T Cells May Boost Immunotherapy Effectiveness

(Sept. 25, 2019) The ASCO Post talked with Andy J. Minn, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Director of the Mark Foundation Center for Immunotherapy, Immune Signaling, and Radiation at the Abramson Cancer Center, about how these laboratory studies may improve the effectiveness of cancer immunotherapy and potentially change treatment paradigms.

Radiation May Lower Potential for Side Effects of CAR T Therapy in Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

(Sept. 17, 2019) “Our findings suggest that not only does radiation not interfere with the efficacy of CAR T, it may even carry a benefit for NHL patients,” said the study’s senior author John Plastaras, MD, PhD, an associate professor of Radiation Oncology at Penn.

Two Studies Show Promise, Safety of Proton Therapy in the Brain in Children with Cancer

(Sept. 16, 2019)  From improving outcomes in children with brain cancer to lowering the risk of damage to the brainstem in children with central nervous system tumors, a pair of new studies published today add to the growing body of research showing the potential benefits of proton therapy. Both studies were led by Christine Hill-Kayser, MD, an associate professor of Radiation Oncology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, a member of Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center, and a pediatric oncologist in the Cancer Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Read the papers here: Pediatric Blood & CancerActa Oncologica

Hypofractionated Proton Therapy Safe, Effective Among Men with Prostate Cancer

(July 10, 2019) Treating prostate cancer with higher doses of proton therapy over a shorter amount of time leads to similar outcomes when compared to standard dose levels and treatments and is safe for patients, according to new research led by Neha Vapiwala, MD, an associate professor of Radiation Oncology, and Amardeep Grewal, MD, assistant chief resident in Radiation Oncology.

Penn team finds new path to tumor death in mouse models of lymphoma and colon cancer

(July 7, 2019) Research led by Constantinos Koumenis, PhD, vice chair and research division director of Radiation Oncology, shows blocking activation of ATF4 can cause cancer cells to grow too quickly and die from the resulting stress in mouse models. Read the article in Nature Cell Biology.

One Simple Change Cut Unnecessary Imaging for Cancer Patients in Half

(June 27, 2019) Simply introducing a default physician order — a “nudge” — into electronic health records (EHRs) cut the use of unnecessary daily imaging in half during palliative radiation therapy sessions for patients with advanced cancer, according to a Penn Medicine study published in JAMA Oncology. 

Penn Receives $12 Million Grant to Study Connection Between Radiation and Immunotherapies

(June 3, 2019) A $12 million grant will help researchers at the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania pursue the next generation of cancer treatments. Five specific projects will bring together multidisciplinary teams of basic science and clinical researchers to answer key questions. “These projects have the chance to change the paradigm when it comes to cancer treatment,” said the center’s director Andy J. Minn, MD, PhD.

Proton Therapy Lowers Risk of Side-Effects Compared to Conventional Radiation

(May 22, 2019) Cancer patients getting proton therapy instead of traditional photon radiation are at a significantly lower risk of experiencing side-effects from their radiation therapy, while cure rates are almost identical between the two groups. Findings will be presented at the 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting in Chicago (Abstract #6521)

Cancer Patients Can Now Use Skin Creams During Radiation Therapy

(October 18, 2018) Contrary to the advice most cancer patients receive when they go through radiation treatment, topical skin treatments, unless applied very heavily, do not increase the radiation dose to the skin and can be used in moderation before daily radiation treatments. A new study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that while 91 percent of clinicians surveyed said they advised patients to avoid these skin treatments and 83 percent of patients surveyed said they’d received this guidance from their doctors, testing showed there was no difference in the radiation skin dose with or without these creams. Read their findings in JAMA Oncology

Additional Inhibitor Can Help Anti-VEGF Therapy Overcome Resistance in Deadly Brain Cancer

(August 27, 2018) A team led by senior author Yi Fan, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of Radiation Oncology at Penn, analyzed human glioblastoma specimens and found VEGF receptor expression was reduced in tumor-associated endothelial cells – the cells that line the interior surface of the blood vessels. “This could be the key to solving the biggest problem in the field of anti-vascular cancer therapies,” Fan said. “Tumors are highly resistant to anti-VEGF therapies alone, but our study shows the flaw is in the current treatment, not the concept itself.” Click here to read more.

Justin Bekelman Wins 2018 American Cancer Society Cancer Control Award

(August, 2018) Penn Medicine Oncologist, LDI Senior Fellow and Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology Justin Bekelman has been named winner of the 2018 Cancer Control Award from the Philadelphia Market of the American Cancer Society (ACS).

Two Ways Cancer Resists Treatment Are Actually Connected, with One Activating the Other

(December 18, 2019) Penn study identifies chain reaction in cells that helps cancer survive treatments that target BRAF mutations. Researchers published their findings in Cancer Discovery 
 

Additional Inhibitor Can Help Anti-VEGF Therapy Overcome Resistance in Deadly Brain Cancer

(August 27, 2018) A team led by senior author Yi Fan, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of Radiation Oncology at Penn, analyzed human glioblastoma specimens and found VEGF receptor expression was reduced in tumor-associated endothelial cells – the cells that line the interior surface of the blood vessels
 

From Mindfulness to Medical Education: Penn Radiation Oncology Explores the Potential of VR

(August 21, 2018) Just about everyone would rather be sitting on that dock than waiting in a doctor’s office. Now, thanks to virtual reality, it’s at least somewhat possible. Penn’s Radiation Oncology department has recently added this VR mindfulness experience to its waiting room in the Roberts Proton Therapy Center. Click here to read on.

Conflicting Guidance on Opioid Prescribing Can Jeopardize Pain Management for Patients with Cancer

(6/12/2018)  In an upcoming article in JAMA Oncology, lead-author Salimah H. Meghani, PhD, MBE, RN, FAAN, Associate Professor of Nursing and Term Chair of Palliative Care at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing), and co-author, Neha Vapiwala, MD, Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology and Vice Chair for Education in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (PSOM), call for key agencies (CDC, NCCN, American Medical Association, American Society of Clinical Oncology) and other organizations to collaborate and resolve these inconsistencies. The article, Bridging the Critical Divide in Pain Management Guidelines From the CDC, NCCN, and ASCO for Cancer Survivors, is available online first and will be published in the October 2018 issue of the journal. 

Penn Study Maps Potential of Manipulating Gut Microbiome to Boost Efficacy of Cancer Immunotherapies

(4/2/2018) Reporting in the Journal of Clinical Investigation Insights, a team led by senior author Andrea Facciabene, PhD, a research assistant professor of Radiation Oncology and Obstetrics/Gynecology, found that the effectiveness of adoptive T cell therapy (ACT) in mice with cancer is significantly affected by differences in the natural makeup of gut bacteria and treatment with antibiotics.

Varian Partners with Penn Medicine for Proton Therapy Training and Education Program

(11/28/2017) Varian announced it is partnering with Penn Medicine to develop and launch a comprehensive proton therapy training and education program. Comprised of both online and in-person training sessions, participants will have the opportunity to learn key clinical concepts firsthand from proton therapy experts at Penn Medicine. 

Penn Medicine Radiation Oncology Delivers First Treatment in the World with Halcyon 

(9/21/2017) Penn Medicine Radiation Oncology successfully delivered the
first treatment in the world with the new Halcyon Linear Accelerator technology on 09/13/2017. The department spent the past 2 years developing this unique cancer treatment with Varian. It is an incredibly proud moment that was preceded with extensive efforts and coordination to get everything in order. This is an important step for the department and Penn Medicine as we continue to lead the world in next generation treatment for cancer patients. 

Protons with a Purpose


(8/4/2017)The Roberts Proton Therapy Center at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center houses a full research beamline for protons and a personal patient care facility. “We offer access to the most unique clinical environment of proton and photon therapy capabilities, all integrated under one roof,” Neha Vapiwala, MD of the Perelman School of Medicine said. (Videos in link)

(7/13/2017) Cancer Cells Force Normal Cells to Mimic Viruses to Help Tumors Spread, Resist Treatment
Associate Professor, Andy Minn, MD, PhD and lab member Barzin Nabet, PhD have identified how cancer cells corrupt normal cells. They force the cells into mimicking a virus, which leads to more aggressive cancer and resistance to treatment. The team now looks to potential therapeutic targets to respond to the interference.

2017 John Yuhas Memorial Lecture and Award Ceremony

(6/27/2017) An award lecture was given by the recipient, Dr. Peter M. Glazer, Robert E. Hunter Professor and Chair of Department of Therapeutic Radiology. and Professor of Genetics, Yale University. The title of his talk was "Oncometabolities, DNA repair, and cancer therapy".

 

 

(3/17/2017) From the Room Next Door to the Next Planet Over: New Proton Center Research Room Will Have an Impact Near and Far

Proton Research Room openingProton and SARRP Research Room Grand Opening

(3/15/2017) A ceremony was held to celebrate the grand opening of the newly renovated Albert Chadwick Research Room, and to thank all who were involved in the project. Tours were given to view the facility and the SARRP. The Albert Chadwick Research Room is located in the CN level of the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine.

 

Dr. Ann R. Kennedy Symposiumkennedy sympsium

(11/3/2016) The Symposium was held to recognize the many contributions that Dr. Kennedy has made in the study of space radiation medicine and radioprotection during her illustrious 28 year research career here at Penn. The symposium was opened by Dr. Metz, followed by a keynote presentation by NASA Astronaut Serena M. Aunon-Chancellor, MD, MPH, who spoke on the Medical Challenges of Working in Low Earth Orbit.  Presentations from former collaborators and lab members of Dr. Kennedy served to highlight the broad impact of their research over the span of Dr. Kennedy’s career. The evening culminated with a reception in Dr. Kennedy’s honor.

2016 AACR Judah Folkman Career Development Award

(10/18/2016) Congratulations to Assistant Professor, Yi Fan, MD, PhD, who was honored as the 2016 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Judah Folkman Career Development Award for Angiogenesis Research

2016 John Yuhas Memorial Lecture and Award Ceremony

(3/2/2016) An award lecture was given by the recipient, Dr. Ruth J. Muschel, MRC/CRUK Professor of Molecular Pathology,University of Oxford.

 
 
 
 
2015 John Yuhas Memorial Lecture and Award Ceremony

(6/18/2015) An award lecture was given by the recipient, Dr. Mark W. Dewhirst, Professor of Radiation Oncology, Vice Director for Basic Science of Duke Cancer Institute, Associate Dean for Faculty Mentoring at Duke University Medical Center.Yuhas 2015

 

 

 
 
2014 John Yuhas Memorial Lecture and Award Ceremony

(3/20/2014) An award lecture was given by the recipient, Dr. Jacqueline Williams, Professor of Environmental Medicine and Radiation Oncology, at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Yuhas 2014

2014 Morton M. Kligerman Lecture and Award Ceremony

(3/25/2014) An award lecture was given by the recipient, Dr. Margaret Foti, Cheif Executive Officer of the American Association for Cancer Research.

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