Researchers to receive ASTRO Gold Medal for outstanding contributions to the field of radiation oncology

The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) will award Amato J. Giaccia, PhD, Radhe Mohan, PhD, FASTRO, and Prabhakar Tripuraneni, MD, FASTRO, with the Society's highest honor—the ASTRO Gold Medal. The 2013 awardees will receive the ASTRO Gold Medal during the Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, September 24, at ASTRO's 55th Annual Meeting, September 22-25, 2013, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

ASTRO's Gold Medal, first awarded in 1977, is bestowed annually on up to three ASTRO members who have made outstanding contributions to the field of radiation oncology, including work in research, clinical care, teaching and service. Including the 2013 awardees, only 72 of ASTRO's more than 10,000 members have received the Gold Medal award.

Candidates must be nominated by one Active member of ASTRO and receive letters of support from two additional Active members of ASTRO, detailing the nominee's impact on the advancement of radiation oncology. Nominees may be from any of the scientific disciplines represented in ASTRO, including radiation oncology, biology and physics.

"Congratulations to my esteemed colleagues, Drs. Giaccia, Mohan and Tripuraneni for receiving the ASTRO Gold Medal," said ASTRO Chairman Michael L. Steinberg, MD, FASTRO. "Individually, they have influenced the direction of radiation oncology research, explored new technologies that guide the way we practice, and directly affected the growth of ASTRO and the specialty overall. The collective impact of their achievements has significantly improved the care for and resources available to cancer patients worldwide."

Dr. Giaccia is a radiation biologist and a 21-year ASTRO member who has made considerable contributions to radiation oncology research. His research has been focused on the role of tumor microenvironment in tumor progression and metastasis, specifically the response of tumors and normal tissue to a reduced oxygen environment, or hypoxia. Dr. Giaccia co-authored a 1996 study, "Hypoxia-mediated selection of cells with diminished apoptotic potential in solid tumors," published in Nature, that impacted the research direction of the field by establishing the molecular basis for hypoxia-mediated apoptosis, the process of programmed cell death.

"Winning the ASTRO Gold Medal is a tremendous honor for me personally, as well as for all of the past and current members of my laboratory," Dr. Giaccia said. "This award represents recognition for my lab's work in studying the tumor microenvironment and its impact on cancer therapy."

His laboratory published definitive data in a 2006 study in Nature and two studies in 2009 in Cancer Cell and the Journal of Clinical Oncology demonstrating that hypoxia-related secreted proteins are involved in mediating cell invasion and metastasis. These findings have contributed to the focus on secreted proteins in active clinical and translational investigations in laboratories and biotechnology companies around the world. Dr. Giaccia advanced this research into clinical studies through the development of protein targeting strategies.

In addition to leading valuable research projects, Dr. Giaccia has also dedicated his career to fostering the growth of junior faculty members and trainees. He is the director of the Stanford Cancer Biology Training Program, and director of the Radiation Biology/Molecular Therapeutic Program and the associate director of Education and Basic Research for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated Stanford Cancer Center. Dr. Giaccia's graduate students and post-doctoral fellows have gone on to achieve success as independent investigators in academic departments throughout the world. Dr. Giaccia is the Jack, Lulu and Sam Willson Professor of Cancer Biology, associate chair of the department of radiation oncology, and director of the Division of Radiation and Cancer Biology at the Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, Calif. In collaboration with Eric J. Hall, DPhil, of Columbia University Medical Center, Dr. Giaccia has co-authored the last two editions of the textbook, Radiobiology for the Radiologist, which includes two distinct sections—one section is focused on diagnostic radiology, nuclear medicine and radiation oncology, and the second section concentrates on the clinical practice of radiation oncology.

Dr. Mohan, a medical physicist for 42 years and 22-year ASTRO member, has had a major influence in several areas of radiation oncology, including radiation dosimetry, 3-D conformal radiation therapy (3-D CRT), intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and ongoing research in proton therapy.

"Advancing the field through research, creativity and innovation is the most important contribution a physicist can make to help improve the efficiency, clinical effectiveness and safety of patient care," Dr. Mohan said.

In the 1970s, Dr. Mohan pioneered the development of computer-aided systems for automated dosimetry and record-and-verify systems for radiation therapy, which enhanced patient safety. By the mid to late 1980s, he was among the key leaders in the development of 3-D CRT, and in the 1990s, of IMRT. His most recent efforts have focused on image-guided radiation therapy, management of respiratory motion and proton therapy. Dr. Mohan is the principal investigator at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston on a major program project grant from NCI, working with Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, for research and development to optimize proton therapy.

In addition to his extensive research work, Dr. Mohan has shared his expertise by serving on various ASTRO committees and on the editorial team of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology • Biology • Physics (Red Journal), the official scientific journal of ASTRO. He was the Red Journal's physics senior editor from 2003 to 2011 and has been a reviewer for the Red Journal since 1995. As a member of ASTRO's Annual Meeting Scientific Program Committee, the Radiation Physics Committee and the Physics Resource Panel, Dr. Mohan has provided valuable perspective and leadership to the Society.

"It is a great honor and highly gratifying to be recognized by the radiation oncology community for my work as a physicist," said Dr. Mohan, a professor and the Larry and Pat McNeil Chair in Cancer Research in the department of radiation physics of the Division of Radiation Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

A 30-year ASTRO member and former ASTRO chairman, Dr. Tripuraneni, a radiation oncologist, has impacted the clinical aspect of radiation oncology through his insights in vascular brachytherapy. He was also instrumental within ASTRO through his leadership roles on ASTRO's Board of Directors and on various committees in the areas of practice accreditation, website development and e-learning initiatives.

"I feel it is my duty to give back, as much as I can, to my professional community and to help pioneer new ways to treat the many cancers affecting our patients," he said.

Working with physicists and cardiologists in the late 1990s, Dr. Tripuraneni developed the methodology, dosimetry and dose prescription for endovascular brachytherapy to avoid coronary restenosis. Restenosis is a common problem after angioplasty, when the blood vessels can become blocked again; Dr. Tripuraneni and colleagues pioneered techniques to irradiate the stent to prevent tissue from growing and blocking it again. This technique was published in 1997 in The New England Journal of Medicine.

In addition to his clinical expertise and accomplishments, Dr. Tripuraneni has played an integral role in expanding ASTRO's services and support to its members and the radiation oncology field. He was a key player in creating the ASTRO Fellows designation, which honors active ASTRO membership of at least 15 years and commendable service to ASTRO and the field of radiation oncology; in organizing Integrating the Healthcare Environment-Radiation Oncology (IHE-RO), an initiative that works to improve the sharing of information among the various computer systems and software utilized in radiation oncology practices; and in providing guidance and leadership for ASTRO's new practice accreditation program. His additional efforts included launching the initial website in 1998; serving as editor of ASTROnews, the Society's quarterly member magazine; launching the first Radiation Oncology Inter-Society meeting in 2007; and organizing the first eContouring sessions at ASTRO's 2005 Annual Meeting.

"I am honored to receive ASTRO's Gold Medal and to be recognized by my peers. In many ways, I share this honor with numerous colleagues who willingly volunteer their time, energy and skill for the betterment of radiation oncology through their work on behalf of ASTRO," said Dr. Tripuraneni, head of the division of radiation oncology at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, Calif., and the chief medical officer of Viewray, Inc. in Cleveland.

Source: American Society for Radiation Oncology


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