August 18, 2006

Radiation Oncology residents land research grants

Featured Image

Rebecca Hacker, R.N., preps a patient for surgery in the O.R.
Photo by Dana Johnson

Radiation Oncology residents land research grants

Two residents in the Department of Radiation Oncology have been awarded Holman Pathway Research Resident Grants from the Radiological Society of North America's (RSNA) Research & Education Foundation.

Christopher Douglas Willey, M.D., Ph.D., a fourth-year chief resident, has been awarded a grant entitled “The Role of Membrane Derived Second Messengers and Bmx/Etk in Response to Radiation Treatment of Lung Cancer.”

Radiation therapy combined with platinum-based chemotherapy is standard care for treatment of Stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, intra-thoracic recurrence or progression of this disease is a primary site of failure in a large percentage of these patients suggesting that NSCLC tumors are somewhat resistant to current chemoradiation treatment strategies. Willey's research hopes to identify upstream pathways that are triggered by radiation. Ultimately, targeted therapeutics aimed at these pathways could improve local control rates of NSCLC by increasing the radiosensitivity of the tumor's vascular endothelium.

Roberto Diaz, M.D., Ph.D., a third-year resident, has been awarded a grant entitled “Pharmacodynamic Assessment of Receptor Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors in Malignant Gliomas.”

Personalized health care for cancer patients requires serial imaging to reassess the response to therapy. Although the traditional approach requires prolonged intervals, perhaps one or two months, recent technological advances suggest that cancer responsiveness to molecular targeted therapy can be assessed in 24 to 48 hours. The goal of Diaz's study is to evaluate human glioma susceptibility to molecular targeted therapy by the use of recombinant peptides that bind to dead or dying cells. This work could lead to non-invasive imaging procedures to minimize the time a patient is treated with ineffective cancer therapy before being offered an alternative.

The RSNA Holman Pathway Resident Research Grants provide each recipient $30,000 for salary support and/or non-personnel research costs to residents in the fields of radiology or radiation oncology as they gain further insight into scientific investigation and develop competence in radiologic research techniques and methods.