Molecular radiobiology and targeted imaging
Research in the division of molecular radiobiology of VCU Massey Cancer Center's Department of Radiation Oncology focuses on defining the mechanisms underlying cellular responses to radiation. Research areas include basic radiobiology and signal transduction (i.e., how information is transmitted from one part of the cell to another or between cells), which influence transcription, cell cycle regulation, DNA repair and ultimately determine whether the cell is going to live or die in response to radiation.
The Division's research includes studies on both normal and tumor tissues with the ultimate goal of enhancing the therapeutic ratio of radiotherapy and mitigating normal tissue damage.
Fundamental questioning of how cells sense oxidative events whether initiated by radiation or normal metabolism and how cells use different oxidative and nitrosative dependent signal pathways is a major component of these studies.
Research has expanded into areas of proteomics, siRNA signaling and the role of extracellular matrix signaling in DNA repair and chromosomal instability. The application of these findings to the clinic is of increasing importance with collaborative studies between investigators in molecular radiobiology and the clinical division of the Department. Specific areas of focus include:
- Prostate cancer
- Head and neck cancer
- Growth factor receptor signaling responses to radiation
- Late normal tissue damage
- Collaborative efforts with other departments in breast and brain cancer
Our work is funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and private research foundations and through industry support.
Division faculty offers an annual one-semester graduate course in radiobiology, and mentorship of undergraduate and pre-doctoral students, post-doctoral trainees and radiation oncology residents in modern radiobiology research.
In keeping with our research goals, we have established an immunohistopathology laboratory, which includes a high throughput image analysis system for analysis of animal and human tissue samples, and a proteomics laboratory with a LC/MS system for protein sequencing and RT-PCR for RNA analyses. This combination of state-of-the-art technology with fresh, innovative ideas represents the primary goal of the division and its two missions of research and teaching.