Radiation therapy, alone or in combination with other modalities, is involved in the treatment of a majority of cancers, is practiced in every clinic and used to treat practically every site of the body. The field of radiation oncology is a perfect example of a multidisciplinary environment requiring expertise of people from widely different backgrounds. In order to control the tumor and cure the cancer patient, one needs to deliver a high dose to cancer cells, drawing on concepts related to radiation, energy, radiobiology, imaging, computation and statistics. By understanding those concepts, the medical physicist plays a key role and allows the team members to safely and effectively use radiation in the treatment of cancer.
Recent advances in treatment delivery that improve conformality of dose to the tumor volume have the potential to benefit a great number of patients. At the same time, additional precision in treatment delivery becomes of utmost importance due to the high dose gradients placed near sensitive structures. Fuelled by increasingly sophisticated imaging capabilities in the treatment room, many departments of radiation oncology are pursuing Adaptive Radiation Therapy strategies that seek to improve patient dose distributions by introducing feedback into the treatment process.
At UCSF, the department of radiation oncology is undergoing a major technological upgrade driven by the fact that each cancer is unique. One needs to be able to choose among a variety of technologies and radiation devices that are best adapted to each patient need. Most importantly, we need to use this technology appropriately. After briefly introducing the field of radiation oncology, the presentation will describe some of the concepts, technologies and research orientations pursued in our department. A special emphasis will be placed on the increasing role of imaging at each step of radiation therapy.
Jean Pouliot received his Ph.D. degree in Physics from Laval University, Quebec in 1986, performed his postdoctoral fellow at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in heavy-ion nuclear physics and joined the Medical Physics field in 1993. He is currently Director of the Medical Physics Division, Vice Chair and Professor of Radiation Oncology with the University of California, San Francisco with a joint appointment with the Graduate Bioengineering UC-Berkeley UCSF program. His current main thrusts of research interest are on the development and the clinical integration of Dose-Guided Radiation Therapy with Megavoltage Cone-Beam CT for patient verification, organ motion and tumor evolution studies during cancer irradiation, and on an Inverse Planning (IPSA) for the dose distribution optimization of image-guided High Dose-Rate and Permanent Prostate Implant Brachytherapy. Author and co-author of more than 160 peer-reviewed publications, Dr Pouliot was voted among the Top 25 Innovators in U.S., Health Imaging and IT, in June 2006 for his pioneering research on MegaVoltage Cone Beam CT imaging.