Research & Clinical Trials at the Department of Radiation Oncology

Research is an essential part of the MGH Department of Radiation Oncology's mission. Clinical research, basic research and physics research are conducted into the causes and mechanisms of cancer, with an emphasis on translating that work to clinical application, so that we can offer patients the benefits of these advances.

Research Labs

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  • Biostatistics & Biomathematics

    The Division of Biostatistics & Biomathematics supports research-oriented databases and data management needs for Radiation Oncology.

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  • Cellular & Molecular Radiation Oncology Laboratory

    Working at the cellular and molecular levels, our studies cover a range of topics, including mechanisms of cell death, DNA damage induction and repair processes, bystander effects, and cancer genetics.

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  • Edwin L. Steele Laboratories for Tumor Biology

    The Edwin L. Steele Laboratories are committed to improving the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer in patients through a better understanding of tumor pathophysiology and host-tumor interactions.

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  • Pediatric Radiation Oncology Clinical Research

    The mission of the Pediatric Radiation Oncology Research program is to continuously improve cancer treatment and outcomes in our pediatric patients through innovative and collaborative research that we translate into clinical care.

  • Physics Research for Radiation Oncology

    Research efforts are focused on developing radiation treatment techniques to optimize physical dose conformation to the tumor target volume and to increase the precision of the dose application.

Trials

Clinical trials are scientific studies in which new treatments are tested in patients to determine if they are effective and safe.

The Department of Radiation Oncology's clinical trials offer access to promising new therapies. Browse our clinical trials below, and click on the trial name for more information.

Cancer

Radiation Oncology Trial

Principal Investigator 

DFCI #

Oropharyngeal

NCI: IMPT or IMRT in Oropharyngeal cancer of head and neck

Paul Busse, MD, PhD

16-155

 

The goal of this study is to evaluate two different radiation techniques (intensity-modulated proton therapy-IMPT or intensity-modulated photon therapy-IMRT) for the treatment of head and neck cancer. All patients will receive chemotherapy along with radiation therapy.

 

 

Sinonasal

Proton vs. IMRT for Sinonasal Malignancies

Annie Chan, MD

10-308

 

The purpose of this study is to evaluate two different radiation techniques (intensity-modulated proton therapy-IMPT or intensity-modulated photon therapy- IMRT) for sinonasal cancers.

 

 

Nasopharyngeal

Randomized Phase II and Phase III studies of individualized treatment for Nasopharyngeal carcinoma based on biomarker Epstein Barr Virus (EBV)

Annie Chan, MD

17-754

 

This study will use levels of a biomarker, Epstein Barr Virus, after treatment for nasopharyngeal cancer, to dictate further treatment and evaluate its utility as a blood-based biomarker for cancer activity.

 

 

Retroperitoneal sarcoma

Phase I/II Trial of Pre-Operative Image Guided Intensity Modulated Proton Radiation Therapy (IMPT) or Photon (IMRT) with Simultaneously Integrated Boost to the High Risk Margin for Retroperitoneal Sarcomas

Tom Delaney, MD

12-100

 

The purpose of this study is to evaluate two different radiation techniques (intensity-modulated proton therapy-IMPT or intensity-modulated photon therapy- IMRT) for the treatment of a type of cancer called sarcoma that occurs in the location at the far back of the abdomen (retroperitoneal). This also will evaluate the highest radiation dose that be delivered with either technique for this type of cancer.

 

 

Prostate

Phase III randomized clinical trial of proton therapy vs IMRT for low or intermediate risk prostate cancer

Jason Efstathiou, MD, Dphil

11-497

 

The purpose of this study is to evaluate two different radiation techniques (proton beam therapy or intensity-modulated photon therapy- IMRT) for the treatment of low to intermediate risk prostate cancer, to determine which treatment minimizes side effects.

 

 

Colorectal cancer spread to the liver

Phase Ib/II Study of TAS-102 plus radiation therapy for the treatment of the liver in patients with hepatic metastases from colorectal cancer

Ted Hong, MD

17-231

 

This trial evaluates a combination of radiation therapy along with a new medication called TAS-102 for the treatment of liver metastases that were from colorectal cancer.

 

 
Liver

A Phase III Randomized Trial of Protons versus Photons for Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Ted Hong, MD

17-733

 

The goal of this study is to evaluate two different radiation techniques (proton radiotherapy or photon radiotherapy) for the treatment of liver cancer.

 

 

Liver

A Phase II Trial of Durvalumab (MEDI4736) and Tremelimumab and Radiation Therapy in Hepatocellular Carcinoma and Biliary Tract Cancer

Ted Hong, MD

17-517

 

The goal of this trial is to evaluate the utility of two medications called Durvalumab and Tremelimumab in combination with radiation for the treatment of cancers called hepatocellular carcinoma (a type of liver cancer) and biliary tract cancers.

 

 

Pancreatic

A Randomized Phase 2 Study of Losartan and Nivolumab in Combination with FOLFIRINOX and SBRT in Localized Pancreatic Cancer

Ted Hong, MD

18-179

 

The goal of this trial is to evaluate combinations of medications called Losartan and Nivolumab along with FOLFIRINOX chemotherapy and Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

 

 

Colorectal

Nivolumab and Ipilimumab and Radiation Therapy in Microsatellite Stable Colorectal Cancer

Ted Hong, MD

17-021

 

The goal of this study is to evaluate the utility of combining two immunotherapy medications called Nivolumab and Ipilimumab along with radiation therapy in patients with colorectal cancer with a specific type of mutational status called microsatellite stability.

 

 
Breast

Pilot Study of Preoperative Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation for Triple Negative Breast Cancer Using Proton Beam Scanning

Rachel Jimenez, MD

17-416

 

This study evaluates the use of a technique called accelerated partial breast irradiation using proton radiotherapy in patients with triple negative breast cancer.

 

 
Breast

The differential impact of proton beam irradiation versus conventional radiation on organs-at-risk in stage II-III breast cancer patients

Rachel Jimenez, MD

17-031

 

The goal of this study is to evaluate two different radiation techniques (proton radiotherapy or photon radiotherapy) for the treatment of breast cancer.

 

 

Neuroblastoma

Phase II Study of Proton Radiation Therapy for Neuroblastoma

Shannon MacDonald, MD

13-443

 

The goal of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of using proton radiotherapy for the treatment of neuroblastoma.

 

 

Breast

Pragmatic Phase III Randomized Trial of Proton Vs. Photon Therapy for Patients with Non-Metastatic Breast Cancer Receiving Comprehensive Nodal Radiation: A Radiotherapy Comparative Effectiveness (RADCOMP) Consortium Trial

Shannon MacDonald, MD

16-188

 

The goal of this study is to evaluate two different radiation techniques (proton radiotherapy or photon radiotherapy) for the treatment of breast cancer.

 

 
Pediatric brain/CNS tumors

Craniospinal Irradiation using Proton Beam Scanning with Selective Vertebral Body/Bone Sparing to Improve Marrow Reserve and Decrease Growth Decrement for Children

Shannon MacDonald, MD

17-283

 

This study evaluates whether using a radiation technique called proton radiation in patients who require craniospinal radiation (treatment to the entire brain and spine) decreases some of the negative effects radiation has on the surrounding tissues.

 

 

Brain/CNS tumors

Pilot Study of In-Room PET in Proton Radiation Therapy

Helen Shih, MD

10-241

 

This trial evaluates the use of a type of radiological imaging called PET to take pictures of a patient’s tumor immediately after they receive a treatment with proton radiation therapy.

 

 
Vestibular schwannoma

Hearing Outcomes Using Fractionated Proton Radiation Therapy for Vestibular Schwannoma

Helen Shih, MD

10-218

 

The purpose of this trial is to evaluate the effect of using a radiation technique called fractionated stereotactic radiotherapy with protons in the treatment of vestibular schwannoma on long-term hearing preservation and controlling the tumor.

 

 
Meningioma

A Phase I/II Trial of Increased Dose Intensity Modulated Proton Therapy (IMPT) for High-Grade Meningiomas

Helen Shih, MD

15-542

 

This study evaluates the utility of a radiation technique, called intensity-modulated proton therapy, for the treatment of meningiomas. The study also seeks to evaluate whether a higher dose using this radiation technique will lead to improved outcomes.

 

 
Low/intermediate grade glioma

A Phase II Randomized Trial Of Proton vs. Photon Therapy (IMRT) for Cognitive Preservation in patients with IDH mutant, low to intermediate grade Gliomas

Helen Shih, MD

18-711

 

This study evaluates two different radiation techniques (proton beam therapy or intensity-modulated photon therapy- IMRT) for the treatment of patients with brain tumors called gliomas that are either grade II or grade III and have an IDH mutation. The goal is to determine whether one technique preserves brain function compared to the other.

 

 
Brain tumors

Local Control, Quality of Life and Toxicities in Adults with Brain Tumors undergoing Proton Radiation Therapy

Helen Shih, MD

17-250

 

The goal of this study is to enroll adult patients with brain tumors who receive proton radiation to understand how proton radiation affects quality of life and side effects the patient may experience during or after treatment. The study will also evaluate tumor control outcomes.

 

 
Non-small cell lung cancer

A Phase II Trial of Integrating Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy with Selective Targeted Therapy in Stage IV Oncogene-driven Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Henning Willers, MD

14-370

 

This trial evaluates the use of a very targeted radiation technique, called Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy, in patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer who have a particular mutation and are receiving a targeted biological agent.

 

 
Non-small cell lung cancer

Phase III Randomized Trial Comparing Overall Survival After Photon Versus Proton Chemoradiotherapy for Inoperable Stage II-IIIB NSCLC

Henning Willers, MD

14-268

 

This trial will evaluate 2 radiation techniques in combination with chemotherapy, protons versus photons, in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer that cannot be removed by surgery.

 

 
Rhabdomyosarcoma  

A Phase II Trial of Proton Radiation for the Treatment of Pediatric Rhabdomyosarcoma

Torunn Yock, MD

04-188

 

The purpose of this study is to evaluate whether proton beam therapy can reduce side effects when treating a cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer that typically afflicts children.

 

 

Pediatric cancers

Proton and Photon Consortium Registry (PPCR): A Multi Center Registry of Pediatric Patients treated with Radiation Therapy

Torunn Yock, MD

12-103

 

The goal of this registry is to enroll children treated with proton radiation in the United States to better evaluate the benefits of this treatment compared to other therapies. The data collected from this study will help to facilitate research on proton beam radiation therapy for children.

 

 

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