About Henning Willers, MD

Dr. Willers obtained his M.D. from the University of Hamburg Medical School in Germany in 1994. After two years of residency training in radiation oncology in Germany, he came to Boston to work as a research fellow on DNA repair in the laboratory of Simon Powell, M.D., Ph.D.. He then completed his residency training in radiation oncology at the MGH in 2005. Following three years as an attending physician in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Boston Medical Center, he returned to the MGH to join the Thoracic Radiation Oncology Program in the Department of Radiation Oncology. Dr. Willers has a busy clinical practice focusing on the care of patient with thoracic cancers of various types while also spending time in the laboratory. He is active in clinical, physics, and biology research with the overarching goal of advancing precision radiation medicine, which combines the latest in biological therapies with high-precision radiation therapy to increase the likelihood of cure without complications in patients with lung cancer.

Departments, Centers, & Programs:

Clinical Interests:



Clark Center for Radiation Oncology
100 Blossom Street
Boston, MA 02114-2606
Phone: 617-726-5184
Fax: 617-726-3603

Medical Education

  • MD, University of Hamburg
  • MD, University of Hamburg School of Medicine
  • Residency, Hermann Holthusen Institute for Radiotherapy
  • Residency, Mass General Hospital
  • Residency, Massachusetts General Hospital

American Board Certifications

  • Radiation Oncology, American Board of Radiology

Accepted Insurance Plans

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View my most recent research

Dr. Willers' clinical research activities focus on:

  1. Developing personalized, high-precision radiation treatment approaches for tumors in the chest (http://www.massgeneral.org/radiationoncology/IMART.aspx).
  2. Using proton beam radiation therapy in lung cancer to improve therapeutic efficacy and sparing of normal organs.
  3. The application of stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) in patients with early-stage and metastatic NSCLC as well as lung metastases.

Dr. Willers’ clinical trials at https://clinicaltrials.gov: NCT02314364, NCT02394548, NCT01993810, NCT01553942

Dr. Willers' lab research program aims at improving the outcomes of radiation therapy and identifying markers of resistance or sensitivity to radiation. There are three major focus areas:

  1. To understand and overcome genomically defined radiation resistance in lung cancer.
  2. To develop novel, biomarker-driven combinations of radiation with molecular targeted drugs  in lung and other difficult-to-treat cancers.
  3. To target DNA repair pathways in lung and other cancers with proton radiation and PARP inhibitor treatments.

Dr. Willers' long-term goal is to contribute to the realization of "personalized" curative cancer therapy.


  • View my most recent publications at PubMed

    Out of 72 peer-reviewed publications:

    Al-Halabi H, Paetzold P, Sharp G, Olsen C, Willers H. A Contralateral Esophagus-Sparing Technique to Limit Severe Esophagitis Associated With Concurrent High-Dose Radiation and Chemotherapy in Patients With Thoracic Malignancies. IJROBP 2015;92:803-10

    Al-Halabi H, Sayegh K, Digamurthy S, Niemierko A, Piotrowska Z, Willers H, Sequist L. Pattern of Failure Analysis in Metastatic EGFR-Mutant Lung Cancer Treated with Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors to Identify Candidates for Consolidation SBRT. J Thorac Oncol, 2015; 10:1601-7

    Wang M, Han J, Marcar L, Black J, Liu Q, Li X, Nagulapalli K, Sequist LV, Mak RH, Benes CH, Hong TS, Gurtner K, Krause M, Baumann M, Kang JX, Whetstine J, Willers H. Radiation resistance in KRAS-mutated lung cancer is enabled by stem-like properties mediated by an osteopontin-EGFR pathway. Cancer Res. 2017;77:2018-28

    Bristow RG, Alexander B, Baumann M, Bratman SV, Brown JM, Camphausen K, Choyke P, Citrin D, Contessa JN, Dicker A, Kirsch DG, Krause M, Le QT, Milosevic M, Morris ZS, Sarkaria JN, Sondel PM, Tran PT, Wilson GD, Willers H, Wong RKS, Harari PM. Combining precision radiotherapy with molecular targeting and immunomodulatory agents: a guideline by the American Society for Radiation Oncology. Lancet Oncol. 2018;19:e240-51.

    Liu Q, Gheorghiu L, Drumm M, Clayman R, Eidelman A, Wszolek MF, Olumi A, Feldman A, Wang M, Marcar L, Citrin DE, Wu CL, Benes CH, Efstathiou JA, Willers H. PARP-1 inhibition with or without ionizing radiation confers reactive oxygen species-mediated cytotoxicity preferentially to cancer cells with mutant TP53. Oncogene 2018;37:2793-2805