Overview

Dr. Willers is a clinician-scientist with a clinical practice that focuses on the management of patients with lung and other thoracic cancers.  He also oversees an active, federally funded laboratory research program aiming to improve the outcomes of radiation therapy and identify biomarkers of response.  He co-directs the Laboratory of Cellular & Molecular Radiation Oncology at MGH.

Departments

Radiation Oncology

Centers & Specialties

Cancer Center

Clinical Interests
  • Lung cancer
  • Thoracic malignancies
  • Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT)
  • Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
  • Proton Radiation Therapy
  • Targeted therapies
Medical Education
  • MD, University of Hamburg School of Medicine
  • Residency, Hermann Holthusen Institute for Radiotherapy|Residency, Massachusetts General Hospital
Board Certifications
  • Radiation Oncology
Locations
  • Boston: Massachusetts General Hospital
Existing Patients
Patient Gateway
Insurances Accepted
  • Aetna Health Inc.
  • Beech Street
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield - Blue Care 65
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield - Indemnity
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield - Managed Care
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield - Partners Plus
  • BMC HealthNet Mass Health MCO/ACO
  • Cigna (PAL #'s)
  • Commonwealth Care Alliance
  • Fallon Community HealthCare
  • Great-West Healthcare (formally One Health Plan)
  • Harvard Pilgrim Health Plan - ACD
  • Harvard Pilgrim Health Plan - PBO
  • Health Care Value Management (HCVM)
  • Humana/Choice Care PPO
  • MassHealth
  • Medicare
  • Medicare - ACD
  • Neighborhood Health Plan - ACD
  • Neighborhood Health Plan - PBO
  • OSW - Maine
  • OSW - New Hampshire
  • OSW - Rhode Island
  • Private Health Care Systems (PHCS)
  • Railroad Medicare
  • Railroad Medicare - ACD
  • Senior Whole Health
  • TriCare
  • Tufts Health Plan
  • Unicare
  • United Healthcare (non-HMO) - ACD
  • United Healthcare (non-HMO) - PBO
  • Well Sense Pediatrics

Note: This provider may accept more insurance plans than shown; please call the practice to find out if your plan is accepted.

Patient Age Group
Adult
Provider Gender
Male

Biography

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.

Research & Publications

Research Summary

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.

Publications

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

News & Events

Contact

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