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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 13, 2007
Contact: Karen E. Warmkessel  kwarmkessel@umm.edu
Ellen Beth Levitt  eblevitt@umm.edu 410-328-8919

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF RADIATION ONCOLOGY LAUNCHES 'PROGRAM OF EXCELLENCE' TO ADVANCE SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH

Doctors hope discoveries will lead to improved treatments and better outcomes for cancer patients

Radiation oncology specialists at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center are launching a Program of Excellence to promote technological research they hope will lead to more precise and effective radiation therapies and better outcomes for cancer patients.

Mohan,Suntha M.D., professor and vice chairman of radiation oncology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and associate director of clinical affairs for the Greenebaum Cancer Center, says, “This is a unique opportunity for our department to be at the forefront of developing new technologies to make radiation therapy more precise and targeted, resulting in more effective treatments, fewer side effects and higher cure rates for patients. The focus of our research is always on improving patient care.”

Key to the effort is a Trilogy linear accelerator made by Varian Medical Systems, Inc., which will be used solely for research. This powerful image-guided radiation therapy system delivers high-dose radiation to even the smallest tumors and can target an area as small as a pencil point. “Through ongoing collaborations between the researchers at Maryland and Varian under our existing research relationship, we will continue to improve the future of patient care and endeavor to defeat our common foe – cancer,” says Dow Wilson, president of Varian’s Oncology Systems business. The University of Maryland Medical Center also has a Trilogy linear accelerator for patient care.

“What’s exciting about this new initiative is that not only do we have the most sophisticated technology available – a state-of-the-art linear accelerator used solely for scientific research – but now we will be able to translate our discoveries directly into patient care faster than ever,” says Dr. Suntha, director of the Program of Excellence.

University of Maryland scientists will be looking at ways to improve sophisticated real-time imaging systems and technology that can target radiation therapy precisely to compensate for a patient’s breathing and other physiological processes, using some techniques developed at the University of Maryland.

William F. Regine, M.D., professor and chairman of radiation oncology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and chief of radiation oncology at the University of Maryland Medical Center, notes that his department’s physicists have a history of innovation. “Our medical physicists have developed some of the field’s most advanced techniques for improving the effectiveness and safety of radiation treatment. Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy, Direct Aperture Optimization and Intensity Modulated Arc Therapy were all developed or perfected by University of Maryland physicists,” he says.

A Baltimore businessman, Leonard Stoler, and his wife Roslyn have made a significant contribution to the new Program of Excellence. Stoler is founder and president of the Len Stoler Automotive Group. The Stolers are major supporters of the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center and donated $5 million for a state-of-the-art outpatient facility that opened in 2005.

The University of Maryland Department of Radiation Oncology ranks among the top radiation oncology programs in the nation in terms of research funding from the National Institutes of Health. The department has nine clinical faculty members, 10 medical physicists and eight radiobiologists.

The University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center is recognized for its multidisciplinary approach to cancer care, with teams of specialists working together to evaluate and treat patients. With comprehensive treatment programs for all types of cancer, the cancer center serves as a major referral center for patients throughout the state and region.

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This page was last updated on: September 18, 2007.