About the Imaging Radiobiology Laboratory

Ted Graves, Ph.D., PI

The Graves laboratory is known as the Imaging Radiobiology Laboratory, and has evolved from a myriad of interests to apply the talents of engineers, biologists, chemists, physicists, and computer scientists toward understanding cancer and radiation biology using an imaging-based approach.  The group is situated at the interface between the Divisions of Radiation Physics and Radiation and Cancer Biology within the Department of Radiation Oncology at Stanford University, and correspondingly employs a physics- and engineering-based approach towards solving problems in biology.

While the interests of the group are broad, the current primary focus of the laboratory is to understand how tumors and normal tissues respond to irradiation at the molecular, cellular, and tissue levels.  At present we are keenly interested in the migration of tumor and immune cells in response to radiation.  This process has important ramifications for the control of human disease by radiotherapy.  Because trafficking of small numbers of cells may have great importance on tumor control and recurrence, study of this phenomenon requires methods capable of sensitively and specifically detecting and quantifying these few cells in vivo.  To this end we have developed a variety of imaging- and FACS-based approaches towards monitoring specific cell populations, as well as techniques for delivering clinically-relevant conformal radiotherapy to small animals in order to probe the spatiotemporal relationships between cell trafficking and irradiation.

These methods have allowed us to elucidate the ability of radiation to stimulate recruitment of migrating tumor cells and macrophages to irradiated sites, including irradiated tumors and normal tissues.  We have demonstrated that GM-CSF, a cytokine that is expressed by tumor and normal cells following irradiation, is capable of recruiting tumor cells to irradiated tissues. This factor is also involved in the proliferation of macrophages, and we are currently investigating cross talk between these two functions of GM-CSF and how they may work in concert to enhance or inhibit tumor control after radiotherapy.

Given our interests, the Imaging Radiobiology Laboratory includes expertise in molecular and cellular biology, radiation biology, radiation physics, molecular imaging, mechanical and electrical engineering, and image processing and analysis.  Team members work in collaboration, applying their expertise while becoming familiar with that of their labmates in order to solve multidisciplinary problems.