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Department of Radiation Oncology

The University of Washington Department of Radiation Oncology is led by innovators and visionaries in the field of cancer care. It produces some of the finest radiation oncologists in the nation.

A Brief History of Excellence

The University of Washington School of Medicine Department of Radiation Oncology was formed in 1979, an amalgam of three divisions: radiation oncology, radiation biology and medical physics.  However, the Department’s research and innovation had been established years before in the early 1970s when National Institutes of Health funding was received to study cyclotron-generated fast neutron beams.

Today, the three divisions remain; we’ve added a fourth division, radiation chemistry, and the studies on the Cyclotron led to the establishment of its own center, including the UW Medical Cyclotron Facility.  The education program has grown to include accredited residency programs in both medical radiation oncology (physicians) and medical physics (physicists), two newly established medical fellowships in stereotactic radiation therapy and proton therapy, and several post-doctoral research positions.

The Department has 23 physician faculty, 19 physicist and research faculty, and 5 ARNP/PA faculty.  The training programs include 10 radiation oncology residents, 3 medical physics residents, 2 senior fellows, several postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students participating in various research projects in radiation biology and molecular medicine, medical physics, and radiation chemistry.

The UW Department of Radiation Oncology is committed to fulfilling, specific to radiation oncology, UW Medicine’s mission to improve the health of the public by:

  • Advancing medical knowledge;
  • Providing outstanding primary and specialty care to the people of the region;
  • Preparing tomorrow’s physicians, scientists, and other health professionals; and
  • Continuing the legacy of the UW School of Medicine, which is widely known for high-quality, cost-effective education.

A core value for the department is to bring an innovative, caring, comprehensive and collaborative approach to each of our service areas: Clinical Care, Education, and Research.

Clinical Care

We have explored and invested in advanced radiation therapy technologies.  We are the only radiation oncology facility in North America which offers the widest range of radiation therapy modalities. Beyond the commonly used Photon and Electron radiation, we offer both particle therapies to our patients: Neutrons, which have a higher effectiveness against certain types of cancer; and Protons, which have a unique ability to better protect normal tissues near the tumor from the radiation beam.  Having assembled a talented, specialized team of physicians and other providers, we are able to offer a complete spectrum of radiation therapy options for a wide range of cancers, including extremely rare cancers.

The University of Washington is recognized as one of the country’s premier cancer centers.  We are a member institution of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and our faculty members contribute to NCCN guidelines.  We are affiliated with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, which pioneered bone marrow transplantation and whose faculty have won three Nobel prizes.

UW Medicine, together with Fred Hutch, Seattle Children’s and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance form the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in the Northwest. This group of organizations is one of the top-funded cancer centers in the country and is ranked fifth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for 2015-16.

Education

The goal of our educational programs is to train future leaders in the field of radiation oncology and medical physics.  Residents receive outstanding training in clinical radiation oncology, treatment planning, radiation physics, and radiobiology, enabling graduates to provide comprehensive patient care and QA activities.  All our residents conduct substantive research in clinical radiation oncology, translational science, education, and health services, including safety and quality improvement.

Residents rotate through several sites in the UW Medicine system and receive clinical training in all aspects of radiation oncology.  They become adept in diverse radiation therapy modalities, including photons, protons, neutrons, electrons, low dose rate and high dose rate brachytherapy, stereotactic radiosurgery with the Gamma Knife, stereotactic body radiation therapy, intraoperative radiation therapy using a Mobetron unit, and intravascular therapy.

Research

The department has active research programs in particle therapy, integration of advanced imaging into radiation therapy practice, fundamental radiation biology, and medical physics topics such as Monte Carlo, multi-objective  optimization, tumor response modeling, synthetic diamond detectors, smARTsKin, decision theory, patient safety, and experimental therapy proton irradiator.  In addition, we are enrolling patients on trials with cooperative groups including NRG, Alliance, COG, and PCG.

Resident Research Days and Faculty Research Retreats encourage research and collaboration within and outside the department.

Staff

In addition to the faculty, the department is fortunate to have the resources of dedicated and highly experienced professionals to provide clinical radiation care and assist those who visit us in person, by phone, or via our website.

Nina Mayr, M.D., FASTRO, FAAAS

Professor and Chair

Dr. Mayr joined the department as its chair in June 2013. Prior to coming to the University of Washington, Dr. Mayr served as professor and chair of the radiation oncology department at The Ohio State University.

Department Happenings

UW faculty receives U.S. DoE award to improve the availability of Astatine-211 labeled radiopharmaceuticals for radiation therapy

Congratulations to Dr. Scott Wilbur for receiving a major research grant from the U.S. DoE to improve cancer treatment.

Radiation Oncology Medical Staff Received 2018 UWMC Patient Safety Heroes Award

Congratulations to Lora Holland, and Jamie Bartalamay, our radiation therapists for winning the award as 2018 UWMC Patient Safety Heroes.

 

The Benefit of Proton Therapy for Children in Developing Countries

About 80% of children with the most common pediatric brain cancer live in low- and middle-income countries. There they have little access to advanced radiotherapies, such as proton therapy, to reduce treatment side effects. Dr. Phil Taddei explores challenges of this missed benefit in a commentary.

Dr. Sarah Geneser Awarded as One of the Early Career Medical Physicist Scholars

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Geneser has been chosen to receive an Early Career Medical Physicist Scholarship Award by the Winter Institute in Medical Physics for her promising achievements in the field of radiation oncology physics.

Advisory Committee

Nina A. Mayr, MD, FASTRO, FAAAS

Professor and Chair

Gabrielle Kane, MB, EdD, FRCPC

Associate Professor

Wui-Jin Koh, MD

Professor

Ramesh Rengan, MD, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Jason Rockhill, MD, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

George Sandison, PhD

Professor and Chief, Physics

Waylene Wang, MD

Clinical Assistant Professor

Anita Wharton, MPH

Director