Vice Chair Reports
Dr. Rebecca Wong, Vice Chair, Academic Affairs
UTDRO is home to a comprehensive range of training programs in Radiation Medicine. Our mission is dedicated to the training of our leaders of tomorrow.
The Joint BSc and Advanced Diploma in Radiation Therapy, Radiological Technology, and Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Technology in Medical Radiation Sciences welcomed its combined class of 102 students. The integration of the Michener Institute with University Health Network in January 2016 created a strengthened environment for innovative curriculum for the health care of tomorrow. Our Postgraduate Residency in Radiation Oncology celebrated the leadership of Dr. Barbara-Ann Millar, as she assumes the role of Chair-Elect for the Royal College Radiation Oncology Specialty Training Committee. As such, she has passed the baton as Program Director of the largest training program in Canada to Dr. Andrea Bezjak in September 2016. Dr. Bezjak will be preparing the transition to competency based training, creating even greater opportunities for enriched learning.
Our trainees continue to pursue a wide range of academic interests with demonstrated achievements in radiation sciences, education and global health. Our Postgraduate Medical Physics Residency celebrated the accomplishments of Dr. Jean-Pierre Bissonnette who completed his term as Director in February 2016, and UTDRO welcomed Dr. Andrea McNiven to lead the program into the next phase. Our Fellowship Program in Radiation Oncology welcomed 26 fellows from around the world pursuing specialty areas as well as graduate degrees. The MHSc in Radiation Therapy underwent a major curriculum redesign to position itself in attracting top Canadian and International candidates; providing new leadership and research streams in addition to its established clinical specialization pathway. It welcomed its new class of 3 students in 2016. STARS21, formerly EIRR21, secured additional funding from TFRI, along with matched institutional funding; its alumni continue to contribute to research capacity in Radiation Medicine across Canada.
Our faculty continues to make significant contributions to the U of T undergraduate medical education curriculum, as well as supervision for MSc and PhD candidates in Radiation Medicine, Medical Biophysics and Clinical Epidemiology. The Annual UTDRO Radiobiology Course (attended by 36 participants in 2015) is an exceptional course for radiation oncology and physics residents as well as graduate students, fulfilling the curriculum for the Royal College Certification Exam.
Continuous professional education at UTDRO takes on many different forms. The Accelerated Education Program continues to build innovative curriculum; teaching ahead of and beyond the curve. The liver course attracts participants from around the world, while SBRT in Advanced Cancer is our latest addition. The Executive Personalized Learning Program welcomed 5 learners from China and Spain, providing individualized learning experiences through observership, tutorials and immersion in our practice culture. RTi3 has established itself as an international event in Radiation Therapy and welcomed 178 delegates in 2015. UTDRO Journal Club was launched in January 2016; each of its events are designed to showcase collaboration across our clinical sites and the resulting innovation from UTDRO.
External educational awards bestowed upon our trainees and faculty provide an opportunity to celebrate our teachers, students and the quality of our education. Highlights include the Faculty of Medicine PGME Trainee Leadership Social Responsibility Award – Dr. Danielle Rodin (2015); CARO Resident Jean Roy Memorial Award – Dr. Danielle Rodin (2015); CARO – CIC Radiation Oncology Global Health Scholarship – Dr. Horia Vulpe (2016); MASCC/ISOO Young Investigator Award – Dr. Srinivas Raman (2016); The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) Award for Young Leaders – Dr. Meredith Giuliani (2016); The American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) Innovation in Medical Physics Education Award – Dr. Marco Carlone & Ms. Nicole Harnett (2016).
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Dr. Shun Wong, Vice Chair, Clinical Affairs
UTDRO continues its regional leadership role in advancing radiation treatment and cancer care for the province of Ontario. Staff at the Odette and Princess Margaret Cancer Centres, as well as our affiliated staff at Southlake Regional Health Care, Trillium Health Partners, Royal Victoria Hospital and Lakeridge Health continued their contributions in creative professional and teaching activities. Radiation Oncologists in the Department continued to provide educational and multidisciplinary tumor board support, as well as outreach consultations to our community-affiliated and community hospitals.
Clinical volumes remained stable at the Princess Margaret and Odette with ongoing upgrades of radiation planning and treatment units, as well as information and imaging systems. Both radiation programs also benefited from strong philanthropic support from their respective hospital foundations.
New appointments in 2015-2016 included Steven Babic, Alejandro Berlin, Charles Cho, Jennifer Croke, Krista Dawdy, Louis Fenkell, Anthony Kim, Renee Korol, Natalie Lauzon, Nadiya Makhani, Sten Myrehaug, Amir Owrangi, Joe Presutti, David Shultz, Angela Turner and Jason Wong. Dr. Cyril Danjoux retired after many years of services at Odette; we also bid farewell to Dr. Caroline Chung who moved to MD Anderson Cancer Centre. Dr. Anthony Brade left University Health Network to become the Head of the Radiation Treatment Program at the Carlo Fidani Regional Cancer Centre, Trillium Health Partners. UTDRO was saddened by the passing of Professor Michael Sharpe, an internationally respected medical physicist, endearing friend and cherished colleague after a brief and hard-fought battle with cancer.
Many faculty members were honored for their outstanding work and contributions to Radiation Oncology and cancer care. Dr. Mary Gospodarowicz was awarded the 2016 Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute Harold Warwick Prize in recognition of her contributions in cancer control. Dr. Laura Dawson was named one of the ten 2016 Fellows of ASTRO for her outstanding work in the field of hepatobiliary radiation therapy. Dr. Marianne Koritzinsky was awarded the Michael Fry Award by the Radiation Research Society. Dr. Barbara-Ann Millar ended her term as Director of the Radiation Oncology Residency training program to take on her role as Chair-Elect for the Radiation Oncology Specialty committee at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Meredith Giuliani was the recipient of the 2016 Canadian Medical Association (CMA) Award for Young Leaders. Many other members received awards from local, national and international professional bodies for their contributions as detailed in UTDRO News.
Lastly, we offer congratulations to Dr. Alex Sun and Dr. Thomas Purdie for their successful academic promotion to the rank of Associate Professor effective July 1, 2016.
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Dr. Michael Milosevic, Vice Chair, Research
The University of Toronto Department of Radiation Oncology and its affiliated academic hospitals and radiation treatment programs comprise one of the largest and most productive academic radiation medicine programs worldwide. UTDRO research drives innovation along the entire patient journey from diagnosis through treatment to end-of-life care and long-term survivorship. Key research themes include bio-physical tumor targeting to enhance the effectiveness of radiotherapy; innovation in the treatment of patients with recurrent or metastatic disease; the development of new strategies for managing treatment side effects and regenerating injured tissues; and learning from all patients by capitalizing on comprehensive clinical, biological, dosimetric and outcomes ‘big data’ repositories.
Academic 2015-16 was a banner year for UTDRO, with numerous high-impact publications and continued growth in the number and breadth of collaborative programs both within the UTDRO academic family and externally on a national and international scale.
There were a total of 383 peer-reviewed research publications by UTDRO faculty in 2015-16, including 40 in journals with impact factors >10. This represents a 15% increase in the number of publications from 2014-15 and also a substantial increase in the proportion of high-impact publications. Of note, radiation therapists were the lead authors of a siginificant number of papers in 2015-16, which speaks to the interdisciplinary, collaborative nature of the UTDRO research environment. Key high-impact publications in 2015-16 illustrative of the richness and diversity of UTDRO research include:
- Spatial genomic heterogeneity within localized, multifocal prostate cancer
Nature Genetics 2015
Lead author: Rob Bristow
- Dexamethasone in the prophylaxis of radiation-induced pain flare after palliative radiotherapy for bone metastases: a double blinded, randomized placebo-controlled, phase 3 trial
The Lancet Oncology 2015
Lead authors: Edward Chow and Rebecca Wong
- Global Task Force on Radiotherapy for Cancer Control
The Lancet Oncology 2015
Lead authors: Mary Gospodarowicz and David Jaffray
- Response assessment after stereotactic body radiotherapy for spinal metastasis: a report from the SPIne response assessment in Neuro-Oncology (SPINO) group
The Lancet Oncology 2015
Lead author: Arjun Sahgal
- Refining American Joint Committee on Cancer/Union for International Cancer Control TNM stage and prognostic groups for human papillomavirus-related oropharyngeal carcinomas
Journal of Clinical Oncology 2015
Lead authors: Sophie Huang and Brian O’Sullivan
The total peer–reviewed grant support available to UTDRO investigators in 2015-16 was $47.5M. This included two prestigious Terry Fox New Frontiers Team grants, one focused on hypoxia-directed precision cancer medicine and the other on ultrasound and MR imaging for cancer therapy. New grants were awarded to RMP investigators from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and other competitive funding bodies to support research in diverse areas, including the development of integrated systems-level imaging, palliative radiotherapy for liver tumors and epigenetic reprogramming of radiation-induced fibrosis. Again in 2015-16, two internal, peer-reviewed seed grants were awarded to promote collaboration within the UTDRO community.
Overall, the research conducted by UTDRO investigators is driving innovation and practice evolution in radiation medicine on a global scale. Currently, there is unprecedented potential to further improve clinical outcomes by exploiting patient-centric synergies at the interface between biology discovery and technology advancement. UTDRO is ideally positioned to capitalize on these opportunities because of its adaptability and diversity, including its strong educational programs that facilitate rapid translation of new knowledge to clinical practice.
Image Credit: UHN PhotoGraphics