The clinical and physics research programs center on the development of new technology. Faculty within the department participate in four general categories of clinical research:  patient oriented research to improve post-therapy outcomes; procedure oriented research to advance radiation therapy delivery; discovery research for predictive biomarkers; mechanisms for drug development.

Current clinical research is focused on adaptive radiotherapy, image guided radiotherapy, and functional imaging using PET and MRI.  Investigators study cancer biomarkers and tissue injury that result from radiotherapy.  Clinicians partner with industry to develop new technology including the single room proton therapy system, MR imaging guided therapy, and state of the art brachytherapy.

Clinical trials

The Department of Radiation Oncology participates in a wide number of clinical trials, bringing important innovations to our patients.  We are active participants in national cooperative groups, including the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB), Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG), and the Children’s Oncology Group (COG).  In collaboration with our colleagues in the Siteman Cancer Center, we have a large number of intramural protocols investigating new cancer management.

The department is recognized as a national leader in radiation oncology clinical trials, and ranks as the highest academic accrual site for cooperative group therapeutic trials, with 273 total treatment intervention accruals during the 2015-16 grant year as indicated by the Lead Academic Participating Site Organization (LAPS).

Learn more about current clinical trials »

Clinical Informatics

The mission of clinical informatics is to prospectively and seamlessly capture a comprehensive set of clinical, imaging, patient-reported data, and biologic data on all patients. The informatics program conducts clinical informatics research related to radiation dosimetry, tissue injury, and clinical outcomes.

The division is led by Christopher Abraham, MD (Medical Director) and Douglas Caruthers, MS (Technical Director), who maintain and analyze our dosimetry and outcomes databases for Clinical Informatics. 

Clinical Informatics in Radiation Oncology provides the following services:
• Clinical research
• Clinical decision support
• Process improvement
• Evidence for quality of our patient care
• Quality of life of cancer survivors

Clinical Discovery research includes tumor samples analyzed for genomics, gene expression and proteomics, and bioinformatics. Blood samples are analyzed for proteins and circulating factors related to tumor progression and response to treatment.

Advanced Technology QA Center

The Advanced Technology QA Center (ATCTM) at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis provides a robust quality assurance process to collect, review, and analyze image-based radiation therapy planning and verification data for patients enrolled on cancer clinical trials. Through its data quality assurance efforts, the ATCTM has succeeded in capturing complete, volumetric treatment planning (TP) datasets that can be linked to outcomes for over 20,000 clinical trial patients, facilitating QA review for more than 80 clinical trial protocols (eight clinical trial groups) in the United States and abroad. In its role of supporting clinical trials data collection, the ATCTM has gained considerable experience in the collection and evaluation of DICOM images and radiotherapy information objects from all major treatment planning vendors.

Learn more about the ATC’s work »