$10M grant to VCU to develop new cancer treatments

Richmond, Va. (May 8, 2007) --The National Cancer Institute has awarded a five-year, $10.7 million grant to Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center researchers to develop a new form of radiation therapy that will enable the safe administration of more aggressive cancer treatments.

The NCI's Project Program Grant, titled "Image Guided Adaptive Radiation Therapy," or IGART, was awarded to Jeffrey F. Williamson, Ph.D., professor of radiation oncology and chair of that department's division of medical physics. The methods in development are based on sophisticated mathematical models that allow higher doses of radiation to kill cancer cells while sparing the surrounding normal cells from damage.

"This project grant is a testament to the high impact of the ideas generated by researchers at VCU, and to the national leadership of the VCU Massey Cancer Center and its radiation biology and oncology program," said VCU President Eugene P. Trani, Ph.D.

"In an era of decreased federal cancer research grants, securing such large-scale funding is an extraordinary achievement by Dr. Williamson and his colleagues," added Jerome Strauss, M.D., dean of the VCU School of Medicine. Williamson and colleagues also will collaborate with investigators from Stanford University, the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, the University of Iowa and the Netherlands Cancer Institute.

The Project

The project will enhance the safety and effectiveness of current treatments by incorporating quantitative and predictive image analysis into treatment planning.

"Anyone can acquire treatment technology, but knowing how to maximize its potential by layering on advances in imaging science, biostatistics and biology is what will really improve cancer outcomes in patients," said Williamson. As radiation treatments are administered, a tumor's shape and size changes. Lung tumors, in particular, change shape and position during

Contact: Andrea Butler
Virginia Commonwealth University

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