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Research

Researchers in lab
​Marikki Laiho, M.D., Ph.D.

Researchers in the Department of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences are driven by one goal: To accelerate the delivery of effective cancer treatments in order to improve our patients’ quality of life. Our research initiatives result in the most up-to-date treatment regimens for our patients and education for our trainees.

Clinical trials

Clinical trials test new treatments in people with cancer. These trials test many types of therapies, such as new drugs, new approaches to surgery or radiation, new combinations of treatments or new methods such as immunotherapy or gene therapy. All clinical trials offered to patients already have been tested in the lab or in animal models with favorable results.

Search current cancer-related clinical trials at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center.

Clinical trials include research at three phases:

  1. Phase I trials provide the first step in testing a new treatment in humans. In these studies, researchers look for the best method and dose to give an experimental therapy. They also watch for any harmful side effects. These studies usually include only a limited number of patients who would not be helped by other known treatments.
  2. Phase II trials focus on learning whether the experimental therapy has an anticancer effect like shrinking a tumor. Only a small number of people take part because of the risks and unknown variables involved.
  3. Phase III trials compare the results of people taking the experimental therapy with the results of people taking standard. In most cases, studies move into Phase III testing only after a therapy shows promise in Phases I and II. Phase III trials may include hundreds of people around the country. Comparing similar groups of people taking different treatments for the same type of cancer is another way to make sure that study results are real and caused by the treatment, rather than by chance, or other factors. Comparing treatments with each other often shows clearly which one is more effective and/or has fewer side effects.
Dr. Phuoc Tran speaking with a patient.
Phuoc T. Tran, M.D., Ph.D.

To learn more about trials being conducted at Johns Hopkins and how to enroll in a trial, contact:

Shirl DiPasquale, RN, MS, OCN

(For trials treating cancers of the breast, lung, and prostate)
Phone: 410-614-1598
E-mail: sdipasq1@jhmi.edu

Kelly Szajna, RN, BS

(For trials treating cancers of the central nervous system, breast, lung, and prostate)
Phone: 410-502-9242
E-mail: kszajna1@jhmi.edu

 

Medical Physics

Medical physicists help develop work flows for radiation therapists to maximize quality and efficiency and make sure that all radiation equipment is used correctly. Physics researchers at Johns Hopkins serve as a bridge between new discoveries and clinical use. The research group has four major areas of focus:

Small Animal Focal Radiation Research Program

This program allows detailed investigations of biological processes, disease progression and response to therapy in animal models. It enables Johns Hopkins researchers to study the timing and scheduling of radiation treatments, study the effect of radiation on normal tissue, and examine giving higher doses of radiation to shorten treatment times, among other areas.

Oncospace

Oncospace is an informatics program with the goal of more quickly improving clinical care. The program uses deidentified patient data about anatomy, radiation doses, toxicity and outcomes to improve therapy for all. An analytical database pulls together radiation therapy data in a complex computerized system, enabling users to analyze outcomes to determine what treatments worked best for which types of patients. This information enables them to create optimal treatment plans for new patients.

Robotics

Robotic research at Johns Hopkins aims to help clinicians place imaging and other equipment precisely and reproduce that placement time after time. This is especially helpful when treating cancers that are not as easy to visualize.

Quality

Some research programs at Johns Hopkins are studying quality. For example, an imaging guidance study is using patient data to decide how often imaging should be done in the course of radiation treatment. A safety margin study is analyzing data to further establish standard margins (the area between the tumor being treated and surrounding healthy tissue) for radiation therapies.

Molecular Radiation Sciences

Doctors working in lab.

The Division of Molecular Radiation Sciences (MRS) is the basic science research unit of the Department of Radiation Oncology. It focuses on understanding the DNA damage response and repair pathways involved in human cancers. This includes studies to decipher how cells respond to genetic lesions, to understand how lesions on genetic material are being sensed and repaired, and how these pathways may be perturbed in cancer. Investigators seek to understand how these mechanisms evolved to protect us from cancer and how to harness this knowledge into new tools and therapies for diagnosis and treatment.

MRS houses seven laboratory-based research groups and is affiliated with several others that integrate cancer biology, radiation physics and patient-oriented research. MRS investigators are members of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

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