ITRO Faculty

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, USA

Prof Michael Zelefsky, MD

Chief of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Brachytherapy Service

I am a board-certified radiation oncologist and co-leader of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Genitourinary Disease Management Team — a multidisciplinary group of physicians who work together to treat patients with urologic malignancies. As a recognized expert in the field of radiation therapy, I am Chief of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Brachytherapy Service. Brachytherapy, which we use to treat many types of cancer, is the delivery of radiation using seeds implanted directly in a tumor.

Our prostate brachytherapy program, which I have helped develop and enhance since joining the staff in 1990, is known for its depth of experience and cutting-edge approach in treating men with prostate cancer. For patients with advanced or aggressive prostate cancer, I have significant expertise using high-dose-rate brachytherapy and temporary brachytherapy, in which patients receive several high-dose treatments either as a boost or as the sole treatment. I also have experience using brachytherapy in patients whose tumor has recurred after external-beam radiation therapy or seed implant, as well as expertise using image-guided stereotactic radiosurgery for areas of metastases (spread) such as bone or lymph nodes.

In addition, I was instrumental in pioneering the use of IMRT (intensity-modulated radiation therapy, which is computer-guided delivery of high doses of radiation directly to the tumor) and IGRT (image-guided radiotherapy, radiation beams targeted precisely to the tumor) for treating men with prostate cancer.

I am Editor-in-Chief of Brachytherapy, a medical journal that addresses all aspects of this sub-specialty, and Chairman of the National Patterns of Care Study for Genitourinary Cancers. I am a past president of the American Brachytherapy Society.

For my work in this field, I have been honored to receive several awards including the Boyer Award for Excellence in Clinical research, the Outstanding Teaching Award in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering, the 2009 Henschke Medal (the highest award of the American Brachytherapy Society for achievements in Brachytherapy), and the 2009 Emanuel Van Descheuren Award for Excellence in Translational Research.

I lecture nationally and internationally about radiation treatments for prostate cancer.


Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Dr Yoshiya (Josh) Yamada, MD

Co-Chair ITRO 2020
Co-Chair ITRO 2020

Dr. Yamada is an Associate Attending Radiation Oncologist and member of the brachytherapy service in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He is a graduate of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Alberta and completed residency training in Radiation Oncology at the Princess Margaret Hospital at the University of Toronto. He completed a fellowship in brachytherapy at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and has been a faculty member in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for over 15 years. He has an academic interest in prostate cancer, brachytherapy, and spine radiosurgery, and has published widely on these topics. He has been invited to lecture on these topics both nationally and internationally. He and his wife Susy are the proud parents of five children. He as a special place in his heart for Australia!

Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Prof Wolfgang Tomé, PhD

Chief, Division of Therapeutic Medical Physics

A) Mitigation of normal tissue radiation injury in the brain. One example of this research thrust is Hippocampal Avoidance Whole Brain Radiotherapy (HAWBRT): While whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT) combined with Stereotactic radiosurgery offers effective palliation in many inoperable cases, it has been speculated that adverse effects on neurocognitive function might outweigh its benefits. HAWBRT aims to preserve neurocognitive function and quality of life, and the Risk to Benefit ratio will have to be optimized with respect to these endpoints. In our work involving patients receiving focal fractionated stereotactic radiotherapy for benign and low grade brain neoplasms, we have established a hippocampal dosimetric threshold of 7.3 Gy in 2 Gy fraction equivalents to 40% of the hippocampus that is associated with subsequent risk of impairment in delayed recall. Patients receiving a dose of higher than this threshold dose to 40% of the hippocampus are 19 times more likely to exhibit impairment in list learning than patients that receive less than this threshold dose to 40% of the hippocampus. As demonstrated by us this dosimetric threshold can be achieved with currently available IMRT techniques and it may therefore, be desirable to spare a patient’s hippocampus during WBRT to achieve a durable palliative effect with decreased neurocognitive side effects in the memory domain. Using animal models we are interested in further investigating the link between hippocampal irradiation and neurocognitive impairment.

B) MR-Guided Therapy

C) Development of decision support systems for adaptive radiation therapy.

D) Use of functional imaging to define and characterize high-risk volumes for risk adaptive radiotherapy. Risk adaptive radiotherapy is a biological optimization strategy that is based on the possible risk characteristics for local recurrence in tumor sub-volumes rather than individual tumor voxels and treatment plans are optimized using biological objective functions that are region specific, rather than voxel specific. Risk Adaptive optimization can be employed in the generation of treatment plans based on biological objective functions.

E) Use of functional imaging to assess treatment response of tumors to therapy.

F) Use of nonlinear systems theory to predict and eventually control (i.e. stabilize) the breathing pattern and hence the tumor motion based on fast intratreatment fraction MR imaging using real time MR radiotherapy systems. Develop real-time adaptive RT techniques that can correct for changes on the fly.

G) Further development of advanced dosimetry systems for spot scanning proton dosimetry and further development of proton CT stopping power images for daily Bragg Peak prediction prior to the delivery of IMPT.

Mayo Clinic Jacksonville Florida USA

Prof Chris Beltran, PhD

Chair of Physics and Director: Technical Operations of Particle Therapy
Dr. Chris Beltran received his Ph.D. from Indiana University in Nuclear and
Accelerator Physics. His thesis research was conducted at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA. After completion of graduate school, Dr. Beltran accepted a medical physics fellowship at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Upon completion of the 3 year fellowship he accepted an Assistant Professor position at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. After 5 years in that position Dr. Beltran moved back to Mayo Clinic to aid in the Proton Therapy Center at Mayo Clinic.

Mayo Clinic is bringing online 2 spot scanning proton treatment facilities, one in Rochester Minnesota and the other in Phoenix Arizona. Each facility has 5 treatment rooms; 4 gantry rooms and one fixed beam room. This presentation will describe the proton facility and anticipated patient workflow. We will also introduce our research endeavours to address 4 critical shortcomings in spot scanning proton treatments. The first is the limitation in accuracy of traditional analytical dose calculations; second is the need for robust optimization; third is the uncertainty in proton stopping power determination; and lastly is the variation of the relative biological effectiveness of proton treatments with LET.

Division Head and Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology, MD Anderson

Prof Albert Koong, MD

Division Head and Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology, MD Anderson

Dr. Albert C. Koong is the Division Head and Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology, MD Anderson, and holds the Olga Keith and Harry Carothers Wiess Distinguished University Chair. He is a Fellow of the American College of Radiology (FACR) and a Fellow of ASTRO (FASTRO). His clinical research interests are focused on the application of highly targeted radiotherapy techniques for gastrointestinal malignancies, particularly on the use of stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT)/stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) for pancreatic and liver cancer. His NIH/NCI funded laboratory studies the role of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in tumor growth and metastases. His major laboratory research focus is to develop therapies that target signaling pathways regulated by the tumor microenvironment and to develop biomarkers that are predictive of clinical outcomes.

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Toronto, Canada

Prof Laura Dawson, MD

Radiation Oncologist

Dr Laura Dawson is a radiation oncologist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, and a Professor the Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Toronto. She completed her medical school and radiation oncology residency at the University of Toronto and a fellowship in high precision radiation therapy at the University of Michigan, where she stayed on as a faculty member until 2003, at which time she returned to Canada to develop a hepatobiliary radiation
therapy program at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

She is an internationally recognized leader in hepatobiliary and liver metastases radiation therapy and in the use of advanced radiation technologies, including stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) and image guided radiation therapy (IGRT). She is the principal investigator of several phase III clinical trials, including RTOG1112, an international randomized trial of SBRT for locally advanced hepatocellular carcinoma and HE.1, a Canadian randomized trial of low dose whole liver radiation therapy to treat painful liver cancer, unsuitable for other treatment.

She has published over 150 scientific papers. She was a recipient of an ASCO career development award, and her research has been funded by the NIH, CIHR, NCIC CTG, and the Canadian Cancer Society.

Barrow Neurological Institute

Dr Igor Barani, MD

Associate Professor and Interim Chair in Radiation Oncology
Dr. Igor Barani is an Associate Professor and Interim Chair in Radiation Oncology at the Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI). He is a member of the Ivy Brain Tumor Center at the BNI, a translational effort pioneering the use of phase 0/2 trials. Dr. Barani is currently an Executive Director of the BNI Artificial Intelligence Center exploring applications of this promising technology in healthcare. He was previously at UCSF on faculty for ten years specializing in the treatment of brain and spine tumours where he was active in the UCSF Brain Tumor Research Center. He also served as Vice-Chair for Clinical Research in the Radiation Oncology Department overseeing various clinical trials and translational research. From 2014-2017, Dr. Barani also served as a CEO of a medical deep learning start-up company that was named #14 by MIT Technology Review on a list of Top 50 Most Innovative Companies.


California Protons

Prof Carl Rossi, MD

Medical Director/Physician

Dr. Rossi has personally treated more than 10,000 prostate cancer patients with proton radiation over the last 26 years—more than any other physician in the world.

Internationally recognized for his achievements in cancer treatment, Dr. Rossi is a radiation oncologist with a research focus on the quality of life and cure rate in prostate cancer and lymphoma. Specializing in proton beam therapy, he has been treating prostate cancer patients with proton therapy since 1991. Prior to serving as the Medical Director of California Protons, he was the Medical Director of the Scripps Proton Therapy Center and was an Associate Professor in the Department of Radiation Medicine at the Loma Linda University Medical Center. He is currently a Clinical Professor of Radiation Medicine at UC San Diego.