By Colleen A.F. Lawton, MD, FASTRO, ROI President, and Gita Suneja, MD, MSHP, ROI Vice President
The Radiation Oncology Institute (ROI) is growing and evolving. Our research portfolio continues to expand, and we are proud to support a diverse group of investigators exploring a wide range of topics to advance radiation oncology. ROI relies on the time and effort of our dedicated volunteers to carry out this important mission for the field, and we are grateful to those who are serving now or have served in the past. As ROI looks to the future, we are launching a new process for selecting and appointing volunteers for our committees to improve transparency and ensure a broad range of voices are represented.
ROI is now accepting applications through an open call for volunteers. We are looking for enthusiastic and engaged volunteers for the following committees:
- Development: Be an advocate for ROI and help secure the resources necessary to fund practice-changing research and education. Share the impact of our research with the #radonc community and help develop innovative campaigns to drive forward the ROI mission.
- Research: Shape the ROI’s research portfolio by helping to develop requests for proposals and review applications. All are welcome to apply, but new members with expertise in one or more of the following areas are especially needed: central nervous system malignancies, thoracic malignancies and artificial intelligence.
Job descriptions for each of the committees have been posted on the ROI’s website. Please be sure to review the roles and responsibilities before submitting your application for a committee so that you understand the expectations of service. In the description of your “Areas of Expertise” in your volunteer application, explain what you will add to the committee and your commitment to ROI.
You can volunteer for up to two ROI committees in order of preference, but appointments are expected to be one per ASTRO member to offer as many volunteer opportunities as possible. A limited number of positions are available for each committee. Appointments will be for one year starting January 1, 2023, and can be renewed. ROI is ASTRO’s Research Foundation, and as such, we are a separate 501(c)(3) charity with our own Board of Trustees and committees. However, because of the close affiliation, your volunteer service with ROI can be counted toward your overall service for ASTRO.
We are excited to introduce this new volunteer process and to welcome even more ASTRO members into the ROI community. ROI exists to heighten the critical role of radiation oncology in cancer care through research, and we believe having a more open call for volunteers will allow for greater representation on our committees so that we can better serve the entire field.
If you have any questions about the volunteer process, please email ROI. To volunteer for an ROI committee in 2023, submit your application by September 30, 2022.
By Gita Suneja, MD, MS, and Robert C. Miller, MD, MBA, FASTRO
The Radiation Oncology Institute (ROI) is delighted to announce new research awards to four teams of investigators who seek to understand how biomarkers can be used to optimize outcomes for patients receiving radiation therapy. A record-breaking number of applications were submitted in response to this request for proposals, highlighting the promise that many in the radiation oncology community see for biomarkers to transform the field. The ROI always seeks to fund the highest quality research that will have an impact on practice and patient care, and these new grants are the result of the ROI’s comprehensive and diligent peer-review process. The awarded projects utilize a variety of scientific methodologies and focus on four different disease sites, many of which are new within the ROI research portfolio. The following four research teams are the recipients of this year’s Biomarkers for Radiation Oncology Awards.
David Miyamoto, MD, PhD, and his team at the Massachusetts General Hospital will develop a new blood test to detect and analyze circulating tumor cells in patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer. This non-invasive liquid biopsy test will help identify patients who can be effectively treated with bladder-preserving trimodality therapy, a combination of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and limited surgery that avoids removing the entire bladder. The test could also be used to monitor patients for recurrences after therapy.
Nina Sanford, MD, and Wen Jiang, MD, PhD, will be co-Principal Investigators on a project to develop a novel microscale biochip device to monitor disease progression and treatment response in anal cancer. Their innovative technology will be used to capture circulating exosomes and to detect a microRNA specific to anal cancer in patient blood samples before, during and after chemoradiation that would allow for greater personalization of treatment. Dr. Sanford specializes in the care of gastrointestinal cancers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Dr. Jiang studies microfluidic and nanoengineering at MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Two ASTRO Members-in-Training are receiving special recognition as recipients of James D. Cox Research Awards. Their grants are supported by generous gifts made by Ritsuko Komaki-Cox, MD, FASTRO, in honor of her late husband and their shared commitment to training the next generation of radiation oncologists.
Hesham Elhalawani, MD, MSc, a clinical fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, will use radiomics to develop a decision-making tool to help diagnose radiation necrosis (RN) earlier in patients being treated with immunotherapy and stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) for brain metastases. Along with mentor Ayal Aizer, MD, MHS, Dr. Elhalawani will use artificial intelligence to conduct a longitudinal analysis of MRIs performed before and after SRS to identify imaging biomarkers to predict which patients are most likely to develop RN.
Sonal Noticewala, MD, MAS, a resident at MD Anderson Cancer Center, will explore the role of the microbiome in how patients with pancreatic cancer respond to neoadjuvant chemoradiation. Together with mentor Cullen Taniguchi, MD, PhD, Dr. Noticewala will examine bacterial profiles in paired tissue samples of pancreatic tumors and peri-tumoral regions to define a signature microbiome associated with patient response to chemoradiation. They aim to show that differences in the microbiome can account for variations in treatment response and lay the groundwork for future studies that target the microbiome to optimize treatment and improve outcomes.
Together with the support of donors, we are investing in these talented investigators who are exploring how biomarkers can advance radiation oncology, and we look forward to sharing their progress and outcomes with you in the future. Be sure to keep up with the ROI’s latest research news by visiting our website or following us on Twitter and Facebook.