Scholars / Radiation Therapy

Researchers at UW have pioneered advances in the delivery of radiation precisely to the tumor and not normal tissue.

Zach Morris, MD, PhD

Using radiation to stimulate the immune system in cancer treatment.

Using in vivo in syngeneic murine tumor models as well as ex vivo functional immune analyses, Dr. Morris will use this award to conduct pilot studies exploring the capacity of radiation therapy to enhance the anti-tumor response elicited by selected immunotherapies. Specifically, he will test whether a cooperative interaction is observed between radiation and tumor-specific antibody in novel murine models of huHER-2+ breast and huEGFR+ head and neck cancers. Dr. Morris will also test whether in situ vaccine may be elicited by the combination of radiation and intratumor injection of novel immunotherapies targeting ICOS, OX40, CD73, and TLR ⅞.

Steven Howard, MD, PhD

Studying the customized delivery of radiation and drug therapy for patients with brain tumors.

Jennifer Smilowitz, PhD

Performs cutting edge research on next generation radiation treatment machines to further improve treatment outcomes for cancer patients.

Dr. Smilowitz investigates novel motion management solutions on the next generation TomoTherapy delivery system, Radixact. Respiratory motion during delivery of radiation therapy is currently compensated for by applying a geometric margin around the target to ensure target irradiation despite motion. Dr. Smilowitz is studying a solution that accounts for the motion during delivery by using delivery parameters that “track” the motion of the targets. The respiratory pattern is used in the planning process to generate a treatment plan in which the radiation collimation systems (jaws and MLC leaves) adjust during delivery to cover the target at all phases of the respiratory cycle. This can allow a smaller volume of healthy tissue to be irradiated. The respiratory motion will also be tracked during treatment to ensure the motion is as anticipated. If it deviates, an adjustment can be made. This is an exciting new chapter for advanced radiotherapy using a TomoTherapy which is a delivery modality originally developed at the University of Wisconsin.

Ian Marsh

Working in the laboratory of Dr. Bryan Bednarz studying how external beam radiation can be combined with molecular targeted radionuclides to advance cancer treatment.

There is growing interest to combine external beam radiation therapy with molecular targeted radionuclide therapy to treat primary and metastatic tumors. The efficacy of this combined treatment approach will depend on the ability to predict the total absorbed dose distribution or total energy deposited in these patients. Ian’s work focuses on develop an advanced computational modeling and simulation tool that uses high throughput computing to predict the total absorbed dose distribution from this combined treatment approach.

Bryan Bednarz, PhD

Dr. Bednarz and his team’s research combines novel drugs with radiation to enhance the effects of radiotherapy.

The use of radiopharmaceuticals to treat cancer is growing at an alarming rate. New drugs are routinely being developed that selectively target cancer cells to deliver cytotoxic payloads whilst sparing healthy normal tissue from radiation damage. Despite these advances, there is an important call to better understand the impact of the spatial and temporal variation of the energy deposited from these drugs at cellular and sub-cellular scales. Dr. Bednarz’s research addresses this call. More specifically, his research will be used to develop mathematical and computational tools to model the microdosimetric properties of radiopharmaceuticals in vitro and in vivo using advanced confocal microscopy instrumentation. These answers could have profound impact on not only radiopharmaceutical therapy alone, but also in combination with other targeted therapies such as immunotherapy.