Research

  • PortfolioAnalysis

    ASTRO's 2017 Radiation Oncology Portfolio Analysis

    ASTRO has been working hard to better understand the research funding landscape for radiation oncology researchers. To that end, we recently performed a thorough portfolio analysis, and are excited to share the results with you.

  • ASTRO Think Tanks—Call for Topics

    ASTRO wants to hear from you! What do you think is an up-and-coming topic of research that could have strong impacts on the field of radiation oncology? ASTRO Think Tanks are one-day meetings held at the ASTRO Headquarters in Arlington, Va. If you have a topic that you think may fit this format, submit a short proposal.

    Research on the ASTRO Blog

    Check out an exciting blog post to see what fellow radiation oncologists think is the most important research question that must be answered in the next three to five years, written by Dr. James Yu!

    ASTRO is teaming up with the FDA and AACR to discuss drug development. Check it out on the ASTROblog.

  • ASTRO's 2018 Research Agenda

    Curing cancer and maintaining high quality of life for patients with cancer are the foremost goals of those in radiation oncology. Research in radiation oncology improvements in technology and therapy that have led to improved outcomes and patient care and a reduction in toxicity and detrimental side effects. 

    Because there are still many unanswered questions, ASTRO has outlined six key areas of research of interest for the radiation oncology field.

     2018ResearchPriorities PNG

  • Collecting, processing, storing and presenting clinical data on previously treated patients in a learning health system environment will be a powerful tool in our path toward precision medicine. Genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics data may all be integral in finding effective treatments or even cures for specific malignancies.

    Research topics of interest include:

    • Can we mine patient registries in useful ways and perform large-scale sequencing to determine an individual patients' likely response to treatment?
    • How can we best harness Big Data applications to predict or inform radiation treatment?

    Patient-centered healthcare and health services research are increasingly driving clinical trial design, data acquisition and regulatory process considerations. These enhance the quality of care and improve patient engagement in both treatment and research. Increasingly, big data that includes patient reported outcomes is used to determine the best treatment strategy that provides the best quality of care.

    Research topics of interest include:

    • By employing comparative effectiveness research, can we determine the best treatment options for an individual patient or disease type?
    • How can we integrate patient reported outcomes with other clinical data obtained through clinical trials?

    The environment in which the tumor lives can have a large impact on tumor growth and metastasis and may alter responses to therapy. Understanding the influence of the tumor microenvironment, how the immune system controls tumor growth (the abscopal effect) and the impact of metabolism on radiation therapy outcomes is necessary to improve treatment efficacy and patient outcomes. Likewise, the study of radiation effects on normal tissue and on tissue vascularization will provide better understanding of how to eliminate or avoid toxicities.

    Research topics of interest include:

    • How does the tissue surrounding a tumor influence its response to radiation?
    • How does radiation alter the tumor microenvironment?
    • How does radiation influence the local immune response?
    • How can we spare normal tissue from radiation during treatment?
    • What novel ways can we use to reduce toxicity?
    • How do we better predict radiation-induced toxicities?
    • Can we minimize long-term toxicities?

    Visualizing a tumor and accurately delivering radiation to the tumor site with better efficiency while avoiding damage to adjacent normal tissues is the goal of every radiation oncology treatment. Improving technology and treatment modalities that increase the efficacy while decreasing the toxicity to normal tissues is a primary area of research focus.

    Research topics of interest include:

    • What new technologies or methods can increase efficacy and reduce toxicity?
    • Can we develop novel on-board imaging methods?
    • Will functional imaging improve cancer treatment?
    • Can we develop new methods for improving segmentation?
    • How do we optimize treatment planning?
    • Can we develop novel treatment modalities?

    Precision medicine is redefining treatment options and treatment regimens for patients. Increasingly, patients receive treatments based on the profile of their disease (genomics of the tumor, location, morphology). Understanding how changes in the genome could alter radiation treatment effects will have a large impact on cancer therapy. Learning how to best use genomic tools in radiation therapy will lead to better patient outcomes.

    Research topics of interest include:

    • How do genomic alterations affect radiation treatment?
    • What genomic mutations does radiation cause? 
    • Can we derive a mutational signature from radiation treatment?
    • What genomic mutations predict response or inform radiation dosage?
    • Does radiation change gene/protein expression in the cell?
    • What epigenetic changes may affect responses to radiation?

    For some tumors, treating with one modality is not enough. Combinations that include multiple modalities (radiation, surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy) provide the best option for success. There is still much to learn about what combinations are most effective for any given tumor. New data is emerging that radiation in combination with chemotherapy or immunotherapy provides a much safer and longer-lasting solution to eliminate cancer growth and metastasis.

    Research topics of interest include:

    • What is the most effective combination therapy for specific cancer types?
    • How should radiation treatment be combined with other therapies?
    • How does radiation modulate the immune system?
    • What is the abscopal effect and how can we harness it to improve outcomes?
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  • ASTRO WorkshopsASTRO hosts several workshops aimed at radiation oncology researchers throughout the year. These workshops focus on a wide range of research and career development topics.
    Funding OpportunitiesASTRO supports cancer research through early career development awards. Applications are now open for our 2018 Research Awards. Apply today.
    Professional DevelopmentAdvancing the careers of our members is central to ASTRO's mission. Learn more about opportunities to mentor early to mid-career scientists, to be mentored by more senior members and how to participate in grant review study sections.