The 60th annual meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), the world’s premier radiation oncology society, got underway this week in San Antonio, Texas, with a strong Wisconsin presence.

Paul Harari, MD, of the UW Carbone Cancer Center is president of the society, and gave a keynote address Monday, October 22, on the topic, “Radiation Oncology at a Crossroads.” The talk highlighted the scope and complexity of the global cancer problem and the promise of future breakthroughs.

“Radiation oncology is poised to combine the best of modern technology with cancer biology to ignite unprecedented increases in cancer cure rates,” says Harari, the Jack Fowler Professor and chair of the Department of Human Oncology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Also on October 22, Harari introduced ASTRO members to keynote speaker Norman Sharpless, MD, director of the National Cancer Institute.

“This is a unique opportunity to hear directly from the director of the NCI about visions for cancer research and care,” says Harari. Harari also recruited London-based futurologist and author Mark Stevenson to talk about future technology in health care. Stevenson will give his keynote address Tuesday, October 23.

Group photo of cancer doctors
A strong contingent of UW School of Medicine and Public Health cancer researchers will give presentations at the American Society for Radiation Oncology's annual meeting.

Harari directs the first National Institutes of Health Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant earned in the state of Wisconsin. He treats patients with head and neck cancer and his research focuses on new radiation treatment techniques and novel radiation-drug combinations to improve outcomes for patients.

ASTRO has more than 10,500 members who are physicians, nurses, physicists, radiation therapists, dosimetrists and other health care professionals who use radiation to treat patients with cancer. Sixteen UW researchers will deliver presentations at the conference, including these School of Medicine and Public Health faculty members:

  • Paul Lambert, PhD, Howard Temin professor of oncology and director of the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research, who Sunday moderated the Presidential Symposium on viral oncology. Today, Lambert will talk about how the tumor micro-environment of virally-caused cancer influences responses to therapy. About one in six human cancers is caused by a virus.
  • Zachary Morris, MD, PhD, assistant professor of human oncology, who also spoke during the Sunday Presidential Symposium on the interface between immunotherapy and radiation oncology. Morris will also talk about MRI-guided radiation for sarcoma and prostate cancer and will lead a poster discussion.
  • Randy Kimple, MD, PhD, associate professor of human oncology, who will talk about the growing epidemic of virally associated cancers, integrating biology into clinical practice, and give a third talk on targeting the Mdm2 mutation with radiation.
  • John Bayouth, PhD, professor of human oncology, who will talk about real-time motion tracking with MRI guidance.
  • Robert Jeraj, PhD, professor of medical physics, who will talk about imaging for assessment and advanced imaging.
  • Andrew Baschnagel, MD, assistant professor of human oncology, will discuss molecular profiling of head and neck cancer and the FGFR target.