Exploratory Projects and Clinical Studies

We are continuously expanding our interests and exploring new research opportunities to enhance the medical physics research program at Stanford. The focus of our exploratory projects is on the clinical application of molecular imaging and nanotechnology. These projects are designed to either answer important questions or solve practical problems in radiation oncology.  In molecular imaging, we are embarking on a systematic effort to investigate the potential of new small animal imaging techniques in radiobiology research.  By this effort, we hope to establish in vivo methods to study radiobiological processes, to understand the influence of tumor microenvironment on radiation treatment of cancer, to extract meaningful information for BCRT optimization, to assess therapeutic response, and to compare different treatment strategies. Clinically, it is well known that individuals respond differently to drugs and therapies, and the effects are often unpredictable. This study will shed useful insight into the efficacy of various treatment strategies and eventually lead to individualized medicine. I believe that the intersection of radiobiology, molecular imaging and medicine has the potential to yield a new set of tools to revolutionize the treatment of cancer. These studies will expedite the process of translating the novel molecular biology and biological imaging techniques from bench to bedside and contribute to better patient care.

Nanotechnology has opened new vistas for biomedical research. It provides an unprecedented opportunity to achieve a fundamental understanding of biological processes and contribute to disease prevention, detection, or therapy. In the past, our group has done some studies in applying nanotechnology to radiation physics. In collaboration with Dr. H. Dai (Chemistry), we developed a new type of radiation dosimeter based on a single-walled carbon nanotube field effect transistor. We also explored the potential of carbon-shelled magnetic nanoparticles for enhancing MRI and CT images with the support of a Ludwig Translational Research Grant from the Beckman Institute. The dosimeter research holds many promises for high-resolution real-time in vivo dose measurement in radiation medicine and micro-dosimetry in biological environments. We believe that nanotechnology holds significant promises in biomedical research.

We have also initiated a number of clinically oriented projects and contributed to the clinical operation of Radiation Oncology Department. Some of our developments have already been implemented into commercial products through Stanford OTL.  While this type of effort is not "fundamental" from a scientific point of view, it fills the gap between the latest technology and routine clinical practice. We strongly believe that a rapid translation of scientific and technological developments into routine practice is important in order for cancer patients to benefit from the cutting-edge technology. We are developing enabling tools for image guided adaptive therapy and attempting to clinically implant the promising approach. Different from current practice, this new approach does not insist on reproducing the patient's simulation geometry. Instead, it compensates the inter-fractional anatomical change by adaptively re-optimizing the patient's treatment plan based on the on-treatment patient model provided by onboard cone beam CT.

  • Real-Time MV/kV Image Guided Radiation Therapy

    In current radiation therapy, imaging (typically, cone beam CT imaging or two orthogonal X-ray projection imaging) is done for patient setup before radiation dose delivery. Dose delivery typically takes 2 to 5 minutes depending on the delivery technique used for treatment. A tumor target may change its position during the dose delivery process. The goal of this project is develop a real-time imaging strategy to monitor the tumor position during dose delivery and evaluate its potential clinical impact.

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