Radiation Oncology and Imaging


Program Overview

The Radiation Oncology and Imaging Program (ROIP) is a comprehensive program that brings together radiation biologists, imaging scientists, medical physicists, bioengineers, radiation oncologists and radiologists. The mission of the program is to foster research which integrates clinical, basic science and engineering approaches:

  • to increase the local control of tumors by radiation therapy while minimizing side effects, and
  • to develop and evaluate novel imaging approaches and imaging biomarkers for localized and disseminated cancer.

The program will utilize rigorous and, ideally, quantitative approaches to facilitate and enhance the following:

  • Detection, diagnosis and biologic staging of cancer to guide treatment strategies
  • Early response assessment and prediction of long-term clinical outcome to allow for adaptive treatment
  • Assess the effects of treatment on the function of normal tissue and organs
  • Understand mechanisms of tumor response and  normal tissue injury from radiation therapy
  • Train future physicians and scientists with diverse, complementary expertise who will serve as the next generation of leaders in cancer imaging and therapy.

Specific Aims

The Specific Aims of the ROIP are to foster research interactions that stimulate the integration of basic science, bioengineering, and clinical trials:

  • to increase the local control of tumors by radiation therapy while minimizing side effects; and
  • to develop and evaluate novel imaging methods and imaging biomarkers for localized and disseminated cancer.

Program Themes

To accomplish these goals, the Themes of the Program are:

  • to understand the mechanisms of tumor and normal tissue response to radiation; and
  • to develop and apply imaging methods for the detection and staging of cancer and for image-guided therapy and response assessment.

Focus Groups:

Theme 1: The program will utilize a multi-disciplinary approach to understand the mechanisms of tumor response to radiation therapy and normal tissue injury from radiation.

Focus Area 1: Cells, Tissues and Tumor Response to Radiation

Focus Area 2: Clinical Trials of Radiation Therapy

Theme 2: Quantitative approaches to imaging methods for detection and staging of cancer, for image-guided therapy, and for early and late response assessment

Focus Area 1: Pre-Clinical Imaging

Focus Area 2: Clinical Imaging to Detect, Stage and Treat Cancer

Leadership Bio

David Kirsch, MD, PhD, serves as leader of the Radiation Oncology and Imaging Program. He is the Barbara Levine University Professor and a Professor in the Departments of Radiation Oncology and Pharmacology & Cancer Biology. Dr. Kirsch is a practicing radiation oncologist at Duke University Medical Center. He is the vice chair for basic and translational research in Radiation Oncology.  A nationally-recognized expert in the care of patients with bone and soft tissue sarcomas, he currently serves as the chair of the Developmental Therapeutics Committee for the Sarcoma Alliance for Research through Collaboration (SARC). The Kirsch laboratory utilizes innovative genetically engineered mouse models to study mechanisms of tumor response to radiation, radiation-induced cancer, and normal tissue injury from radiation. In addition, the laboratory utilizes these mouse models to study sarcoma metastasis to the lung and intra-operative molecular imaging. Dr. Kirsch's research has been recognized by the National Cancer Institute for outstanding productivity and exceptional accomplishment with an R35 Outstanding Investigator Award.

Dr. Kirsch held an IND for a novel protease-activated fluorescent imaging agent, which was successfully tested in a phase I clinical trial at Duke. He will be the PI of a multi-institutional randomized clinical trial testing the combination of the immune check point inhibitor pembrolizumab and radiation therapy for high-risk extremity soft tissue sarcoma. 

Scientific Highlights

Lee, CL, Castle, KD, Moding, EJ, Blum, JM, Williams, N, Luo, L, Ma, Y, Borst, LB, Kim, Y, and Kirsch, DG. "Acute DNA damage activates the tumour suppressor p53 to promote radiation-induced lymphoma."  Nature Communications 6 (September 24, 2015): 8477-.  PMID: 26399548

Liu, X, He, Y, Li, F, Huang, Q, Kato, TA, Hall, RP, and Li, CY. "Caspase-3 promotes genetic instability and carcinogenesis."  Molecular Cell 58, no. 2 (April 9, 2015): 284-296.  PMID: 25866249

Moding, EJ, Castle, KD, Perez, BA, Oh, P, Min, HD, Norris, H, Ma, Y, Cardona, DM, Lee, CL, and Kirsch, DG. "Tumor cells, but not endothelial cells, mediate eradication of primary sarcomas by stereotactic body radiation therapy."  Science Translational Medicine 7, no. 278 (March 2015): 278ra34-.

Goldstein, M, and Kastan, MB. "Repair versus Checkpoint Functions of BRCA1 Are Differentially Regulated by Site of Chromatin Binding."  Cancer Research 75, no. 13 (July 2015): 2699-2707.  PMID: 25939603

Ashcraft, KA, Boss, MK, Tovmasyan, A, Roy Choudhury, K, Fontanella, AN, Young, KH, Palmer, GM, Birer, SR, Landon, CD, Park, W, Das, SK, Weitner, T, Sheng, H, Warner, DS, Brizel, DM, Spasojevic, I, Batinic-Haberle, I, and Dewhirst, MW. "Novel Manganese-Porphyrin Superoxide Dismutase-Mimetic Widens the Therapeutic Margin in a Preclinical Head and Neck Cancer Model."  International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics 93, no. 4 (November 2015): 892-900. PMID: 26530759

Hendargo, HC, Zhao, Y, Allenby, T, and Palmer, GM. "Snap-shot multispectral imaging of vascular dynamics in a mouse window-chamber model."  Optics Letters 40, no. 14 (July 2015): 3292-3295.  PMID: 26176452

Wang, D, Zhang, Q, Eisenberg, BL, Kane, JM, Li, XA, Lucas, D, Petersen, IA, DeLaney, TF, Freeman, CR, Finkelstein, SE, Hitchcock, YJ, Bedi, M, Singh, AK, Dundas, G, and Kirsch, DG. "Significant Reduction of Late Toxicities in Patients With Extremity Sarcoma Treated With Image-Guided Radiation Therapy to a Reduced Target Volume: Results of Radiation Therapy Oncology Group RTOG-0630 Trial."  Journal of Clinical Oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology 33, no. 20 (July 2015): 2231-2238.  PMID: 25667281

Horton, JK, Blitzblau, RC, Yoo, S, Geradts, J, Chang, Z, Baker, JA, Georgiade, GS, Chen, W, Siamakpour-Reihani, S, Wang, C, Broadwater, G, Groth, J, Palta, M, Dewhirst, M, Barry, WT, Duffy, EA, Chi, JT, and Hwang, ES. "Preoperative Single-Fraction Partial Breast Radiation Therapy: A Novel Phase 1, Dose-Escalation Protocol With Radiation Response Biomarkers."   International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics 92, no. 4 (July 2015): 846-855PMID: 26104938


Clinical Trials