February 2024

Welcome to the 2024 Winter edition of the Spotlight! It is amazing all of the things that go on in this department in a few short months. The late Fall and holidays were a busy time across the department. It looks like our team was able to mix in lots of fun with the time in radiation oncology. I am excited about the future of the department and look forward to sharing a number of things at our next all staff meeting. As a preview, our teams are working hard on a Strategic Plan Refresh that will guide us through the next 5 years. I am confident we will be in a great position to take advantage of the opportunities ahead of us. We continue to evolve our planned investments in protons as we are accelerating the strategy I described at our last meeting. As we get more details I will be discussing at our upcoming meeting. Our educational teams are in recruitment mode for our residency programs and graduate programs. There is a ton of work ongoing and I am so excited when I meet future stars in our field as they come in for interviews. Next month we have our medical and physics residency matches and we will be sending out acceptances to our graduate programs. We have had some struggles with uptime for protons at PCAM the past couple of months. I appreciate all the work our team does in every area of the department to support our patients and each other through difficult times. We appear to be more stable at this time. I assure you our team is working diligently with the vendor to maintain a stable system and improve issues for the future. So take some time and enjoy the images of your colleagues and descriptions of all the events in the Spotlight. Keep sending your updates so we can share with the team!!

In the News

ASTRO Reception

Penn Radiation Oncology faculty, staff, alumni, and special guests gathered at Stone Brewing in San Diego for a reception during this year's ASTRO Conference.

14 Years of the Roberts Proton Therapy Center

Celebrating 14 years of the Roberts Proton Therapy Center and 10,00 patients treated with protons & photos from the cyclotron being delivered to PCAM

January 2024 marked 14 years of the Roberts Proton Therapy Center and 10,000 patients treated with proton therapy! Over the past 14 years we have celebrated many first with proton therapy, including:

  • Worlds first Gantry Rolling Floor for protons
  • Multileaf Collimators on all gantries for Double Scattering and Uniform Scanning
  • Prompt Gamma in PBS
  • First soft tissue imaging with Cone Beam CT in the proton environment
  • Dedicated PBS nozzle
  • First large scale treatment with PBS in the world
  • Numerous techniques to expand protons to new disease sites
  • First comprehensive Proton Training Course
  • First FLASH manuscripts in the proton environment
  • First hub and spoke model of proton therapy with the addition of LGH and Virtua
  • First Conformal FLASH treatments starting with canine patients

Featured in the Media

76ers Visit

Dr. John Plastaras (third from left), Dr. Neha Vapiwala (fourth from left), and Abe Bren (center) on court at the Sixers game.

In November, the Sixers honored Abe Bren with an on-court recognition for his treatment journey at Penn Medicine, which included receiving care for kidney and prostate cancer in addition to a heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery. His radiation oncologist, Neha Vapiwala, MD, joined him as part of the on-court recognition, as well as John Plastaras, MD, PhD.

RadOnc in the PM Report

Neha Vapiwala, MD was highlighted in the PM Report for her work on a study researching prostate cancer and the efficacy of receiving hormone therapy with high-dose radiation therapy.

People of Penn Cancer - Carrie Defeo & Jerel De Leon

Center for Global Health Scholar Spotlight

Stephen Avery, PhD was featured as the December 2023 Scholar Spotlight for the Perelman School of Medicine's Center for Global Health. Please read his full interview below.

Penn Visits IBA Headquarters in Belgium

RadOnc leadership visited IBA's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium in November as part of our ongoing partnership. Department leaders who attended include: Dr. James Metz, Fabian Marechal, Lei Dong, Costas Koumenis, Kevin Teo, Dr. Alexander Lin, Dr. Jeffrey Bradley, Sebastian Haines, Lori Gustave, Christina McCrohan, David Alkins, and Courtney Misher

The Drop: Edmonton Oilers Video

Connor McDavid, team captain of the Edmonton Oilers, was in Philly recently visiting with Mike Stelter, the first patient from Alberta, Canada to receive proton therapy at Penn Medicine. While in town, the three-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner made time to tour the Roberts Proton Therapy Center to learn about proton therapy. The Stelter family became close with the Oilers organization and McDavid in particular after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with cancer. Our Radiation Oncology Department has been actively working to establish a Proton Therapy Center in Edmonton, which will be the first proton center in Canada. Connor McDavid, the Stelters, and the Ben Stelter Foundation, are just a few that are supporting that effort.

Community Engagement

We invite you to visit the site regularly, as we continue to update resources, add information on ongoing initiatives, and expand educational materials.

PennCobalt provides mental health resources for Penn staff and faculty.

Theresa Busch, PhD was highlighted in the CPUP news for her work as a Vice Chair in DEI for our department.


Have You Recognized Someone Today?

DON'T FORGET: You can recognize a colleague at any time by submitting the recognition form found at (direct link is below). Bookmark this web page for easy access in the future!

If you would like a copy of the flyer with QR code for your work area, please email

Meet the Newest Members of Our Team!

From left to right: Jack Grossi, Patrick Guarnieri, Sydney Raver

Jack Grossi

Jack joins the department as a Data Analyst. Previously, Jack worked as an analyst for Urban Science. and he graduated from Fordham University's Masters of Data Science program. In his spare time, Jack enjoys painting, cooking, and playing video games. Contact him at

Patrick Guarnieri

Patrick joins the department as a proton dosimetrist. Previously, he worked as a dosimetrist at MercyOne Cancer Center in Iowa and he has also worked as a radiologic tech and radiation therapist at Tower Health. Patrick received his dosimetry training at Thomas Jefferson University. Contact him at

Syndey Raver

Sydney joins the department as a dosimetrist treatment planner. Previously, she worked as a radiation therapist at OhioHealth in Columbus, Ohio. Sydney received her Master of Science in Medical Dosimetry from University of Wisconsin - La Crosse and her Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Sciences and Therapy from Ohio State University. In her spare time, Sydney enjoys dancing, traveling and exploring new places, and working out/ pilates. Contact her at


Desiree Huber

Desiree transitioned into the Global Program Coordinator for the Penn Radiation Oncology Institute. Previously, she was the Executive Project Manager to the COO and she has her BS in business management. In her spare time, Desiree enjoys reading, traveling, and cooking. Contact her at

Sara Schultze

Sara took over the role of Project Manager to the COO. Previously she was the staff assistant for the RadOnc Operations team and she has her BS in biology. In her spare time, Sara enjoys cooking, kickboxing, and working on puzzles. Contact Sara at

Employee Recognition

Congratulations to our colleagues on their achievements!


Andrew Hollander, MD

Andrew Hollander, MD joined the department in February and will be at our Doylestown location. He received his undergraduate degree from Haverford College, and attended medical school as well as receiving a Master of Science in Translational Research at The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. After obtaining his medical degree, Dr. Hollander completed an internal medicine internship at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania before joining the Radiation Oncology Residency Program here. After residency, Andrew spent time at Delta Medix Center for Comprehensive Cancer Care, Temple University Hospital as an Assistant Professor and most recently at UPMC, Altoona.

Harper Hubbeling, MD

Harper Hubbeling, MD started her position in October as Assistant Professor (CE Track) for the CNS Disease site team. Harper received her undergraduate degree from Haverford College. She attended Harvard Medical School where she spent one year doing clinical research in thoracic oncology. After completing her medical degree, Harper joined the Radiation Oncology Residency Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Russell Maxwell, MD

Russell Maxwell, MD has returned to our Department as an Attending/Instructor on the Head and Neck team. Russell received his undergraduate degree from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and attended medical school at Johns Hopkins. Russell also pursued a research fellowship to investigate glioblastoma immunotherapy approaches in both preclinical and clinical settings. After obtaining his medical degree, Russell completed an internal medicine internship at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania before joining the Radiation Oncology Residency Program here.

Kevin Teo, PhD

Boon-keng “Kevin” Teo, PhD has been appointed as our new Vice Chair of Physics, effective November 1, 2023. Kevin has been with RadOnc since 2009, diligently rising through the ranks, and being promoted to an Associate Professor in 2018. He earned his B.Sc in Physics from the National University of Singapore and further pursued a PhD in Physics at the University of Michigan.

During his time here, Kevin has played noteworthy roles on committees while also leading important services. He is a member of the Protocol Review Committee, Medical Physics Graduate Program Faculty Advisory Committee, and the Faculty Senate Executive Committee. Additionally, he demonstrates expertise as the Physics Lead for Head and Neck Service and Proton lead. Kevin also held the role of Director for the Medical Physics Residency Program from 2015 to 2019.

In his new role as Vice Chair, Kevin will oversee all aspects of the Medical Physics Division's mission, combining clinical, educational, and research activities. He will be a key part of the Executive Leadership Team, shaping the Department's mission and plans for future development. His role will extend to managing our prestigious and competitive CAMPEP-approved Medical Physics Residency Program and Medical Physics Graduate Program alongside Program Directors. Furthermore, as the custodian for the technological operations of the Roberts Proton Therapy Center, he ensures consistency in clinical operations with a close partnership with the Vice Chair of Clinical Affairs and Vice Chair, Proton Therapy & Technology Development. Kevin's responsibilities also include fostering a robust research program with the Vice Chair of Research.

As we usher in this new chapter and anticipate Kevin's leadership, we express sincere gratitude to Lei Dong, PhD, who has served as the Vice Chair of Physics since 2017. During his tenure, Lei drove our department through significant expansions and innovative programs, notable being the proton centers at Virtua and Lancaster General. He also played an instrumental role in advancing our FLASH research program and supporting the growth of our medical physics residency and graduate programs. Dr. Dong's contribution to our department will continue as he remains an active member and facilitates a smooth transition of leadership to Dr. Kevin Teo.

Conferences and Speakers

ASTRO, SROA, & ASRT - San Diego

October 2023

Faculty and staff in the department presented at this year's ASTRO, SROA, and ASRT conferences in San Diego. To see a list of all the presentations, please see the ASTRO supplement below:

American Association for Cancer Research - Korean Cancer Association Conference

November 2023

Costas Koumenis, PhD presenting at the AACR-KCA Conference in Seoul, Korea.

Clinical Trials Research Sprint 2023

From December 4 through December 8, 2023 members of the department participated in the Clinical Trials Sprint 2023. Wei Xu, Michell Kim, and Kelly Clark reviewed regulatory requirements of protocol submission with Drs. Maxwell, Hubbeling, Taunk, LaRiviere, Lebow, and Kassick.  Multiple novel therapeutic clinical trials were discussed and refined with assistance of senior faculty and staff in the department.

Neil Taunk, MD, MSCTS presented at an "Ask the Expert" Instagram live session about brachytherapy hosted by Share Cancer Support in December.

Stephen Avery, PhD participated in the One Health@Penn Research Community's Work in Progress Series on December 13 and presented on the topic "Climate and One Health".

FLASH Conference - Toronto

December 2023

Anastasia Velalopoulou, PhD, Priyanka Chowdhury, PhD, Jennifer Wei Zou, PhD, Eric Diffenderfer, PhD, Alexander Lin, MD, Constantinos Koumenis, PhD, Ioannis Verginadis, MsC, PhD, Michele Kim, PhD, Keith Cengel, MD, PhD, Theresa Busch, PhD, Yi Fan, MD, PhD, Kevin Teo, PhD, Jeffrey Bradley, MD, FACR, FASTRO, Lei Dong, PhD, Dimitris Mihailidis, PhD

Middle East Proton Therapy Summit - Doha, Qatar

January 2024

Members of our Rad Onc Department conducted a Summit on Proton Therapy in Doha, Qatar which was attended by Healthcare leaders, Government officials, Clinicians and Business Executives from Qatar and other Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) Countries. Fabian Marechal, Richard Maughan, Dr. Mike LaRiviere, Brett Hartl, Fern Nibauer-Cohen, Shelley Saunders and Debra Stephen delivered presentations (in-person or via video) on various topics related to proton therapy. Christina McCrohan and Charlie Magee staffed a booth educating attendees on our Rad Onc department and our expertise with proton therapy. There were also meetings with Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), the main health care provider in Qatar, who is working on establishing a proton therapy center in the country. Since the visit, HMC has begun referring patients to RadOnc who are thought to be candidates for proton therapy.

Arab Health

February 2024

Members of Penn Radiation Oncology teamed up with Penn Global Medicine and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia exhibiting at the 2024 Arab Health Conference in Dubai. Demonstrating our commitment to global healthcare education, Penn Radiation Oncology showcased the pioneering initiatives of the Penn Radiation Medicine Institute Global Education and Advisory services, aligning with our mission to educate healthcare professionals worldwide in the field of radiation therapy.

2024 Cervical Cancer Summit

Dr. Neil Taunk presented at the 2024 Cervical Cancer Summit in New York City. His session was called "How Can We Manage Long-Term Side Effects in Survivorship?"

Awards & Grants

Dr. Ioannis Verginadis received the Best Abstract Award at the 2023 FRPT Conference, abstract title: "Early inflammation and interferon signaling coordinate enhanced intestinal crypt regeneration after whole abdomen flash proton radiotherapy"

PMX 2023 Awards

The PCAM Women's Health Team received the CPUP PMX Feedback Top Performer Advocacy Award.

Sung Un Kim, Kate Gray, Carrie Defeo, Jerel DeLeon, Dr. Steve Feigenberg, Dr. Jeff Bradley, Michelle Clark-Halligan

Jerel DeLeon received a HUP Advocacy Award. Carrie DeFeo nominated Jerel for his patient advocacy.

Clinical Research Unit Year-End Awards

The Radiation Oncology Clinical Research Unit (CRU) would like to acknowledge exceptional Principal Investigators (PIs) for leading and supporting our department’s research efforts. We considered three annual award categories for 2023: Highest Enroller; Most Responsive; and Best PI.

After reviewing our internal metrics, Drs. Steven Feigenberg and Gary Freedman are the two Highest Enrollers in 2023 across our clinical research portfolio, with a total enrollment count of 17 and 16, respectively. This includes referrals to studies led by other investigators.

Furthermore, after reviewing our internal metrics, Drs. Neha Vapiwala and Edgar Ben-Josef are the two Most Responsive PIs in 2023 across our active investigators.

And finally, Dr. Steven Feigenberg was voted the Best PI of 2023 by the CRU! Our general criteria for Best PI included: compliance, enrollment, responsiveness, and expertise.

Thank you to all the PIs in our department for the important work you do and support you provide to our CRU!

Social Work

Social work team in the photo: Katharine Winner, Joyce Mitchell, Julia Bouchat, Tracy Lautenbach-Hynes, Angela Moore, Sandy Blackburn

On September 26th, the RadOnc social work team along with social workers from MedOnc and in-patient met with members of the Bringing Hope Home organization for an award presentation celebrating the organization’s 15th anniversary. Below is a short blurb of the gathering:

Since 2008, we have helped over 8,900 local Families with cancer with over $10.6 million in assistance and the University of Pennsylvania (Abramson Cancer Center and Radiation Oncology) is notably one of our largest referring hospitals. Because of your referrals, through our Light of Hope Family Program, we have impacted many families in our area and we’re forever grateful for your continued support over the years. As a token of our appreciation, we’d like to recognize the team at both Abramson Cancer Center and Radiation Oncology with a special award presentation at the Perelman Center.

Tracy Lautenbach-Hynes was named "Champion of Hope" by the organization Support for People with Oral and Head & Neck Cancer for her work in facilitating the support group's chapter at the Abramson Cancer Center.

Social Scene

Thank you, Linda Jefferson for all of your decorations, for holiday celebrations and season changes! In this newsletter we are highlighting Linda's decorations for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Black History Month & Valentine's Day. Be sure to stop by and admire Linda's hard work the next time you are on the second floor of PCAM!

Thank you to Kara Lawrence for decorating the 4th floor of PCAM to celebrate all holidays and seasons! Below are some pictures of her decoration for Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, Black History Month, and Valentine's Day.

Banner reads "Love recognizes no barriers", a quote from Maya Angelou

Bourbon, Brews & Blues

October 13, 2023

Jessica Kushner, Nancy Tuttle, Nathaniel O, Costas Koumenis

The Annual Bourbon, Brews & Blues fundraiser took place on October 13th. The event benefits the Stephen Tuttle Fund for Oncology Research and Education. The Fund was set up to fund educational and research opportunities for the next generation of scientists, with the hope of getting closer each year to the cure. Thank you to those that participated!

For Pete's Sake Wine & Wardrobe Event

October 19, 2023

For Pete's Sake Cancer Respite Foundation hosted their Wine and Wardrobe fundraiser on October 19 at the Flourtown Country Club which featured one of our patients as a model (top left photo). Members of the RadOnc team represented our department and raised money to give patients and their families a break from cancer.

Light the Night Walk

October 28, 2023

Left photo: Gordon Yu, MD; Et-tsu Chen, MD; Jordan Carter, MD with his 2 children

Valley Forge raised money for the annual Light the Night event, which was held on Saturday, October 28 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This event raises money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Top left photo: Jerel DeLeon, Sung Un Kim, Jeff Bradley, Tiffany Aleman, Keith Cengel, Carre Defeo, Steve Feigenberg, Jamee Wilkas, Bill Levin

The thoracic team created sweatshirts to honor lung cancer awareness month.

Clinical Research Unit Thanksgiving Potluck

November 21, 2023

Marlowe Estioko, Snehal Somalwar, Taylor Siegal, Erika Hubbard, Michell Kim, Ching Lai, Bobby George, Wei Xu, Sara Tabakha, Karen Tang, Jhohanna Perez Sanchez, Lisha Chen, Alexis Giron Santos, Amanda Driscoll, Hien Lu, Josh Bryer, Amanda Munter, Dr. John Plastaras, Fabian Marechal

The Radiation Oncology Clinical Research Unit celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday together with a potluck lunch.

Clinical Research Unit Holiday Party

December 8, 2023

Karen Tang, Lisha Chen, Marlowe Estioko, Snehal Somalwar, Wei Xu, Ching Lai, Kelly Clark, Dr. Nick Lukens, Dr. Neil Taunk, Josh Bryer, Kate Barbour, Michell Kim, Dr. Neha Vapiwala, and Dr. John Plastaras

Members of the Radiation Oncology Clinical Research Unit enjoyed a holiday party at Landmark Americana and were joined by a few RadOnc physicians and Kate Barbour, the Penn NCTN Program Manager.

Chester County Holiday Lunch

The Chester County Radiation Oncology team celebrating the holidays with a Secret Santa gift swap, holiday sweaters, and enjoying a delicious potluck lunch.

Dosimetry Holiday Potluck & Secret Santa

The Dosimetry team hosted a holiday potluck/Secret Santa gathering. This was a special one, since we haven’t had one in about 4 years! Also, first time we have all been in the same room in person since we started working from home and always on varied shifts! So proud of our amazing team!

Research Holiday Gathering

Left photo: Chris Heer, Ioannis Verginadis, Shiva Shahrampour, Sayantani Das, Morgan McGrath, Crystal Conn, Christie Foti, Right photo: Carolyn Hencek, Jenine Iannaccone, Christie Foti, Meena Swaminathan, Chris Heer, Jessica Kushner, Amanda Snyder

Holiday Celebrations at PCAM

Left to Right: Kathryn Betcher and Giovanna Sorber

Kathryn Betcher and Giovanna Sorber spearheaded an organization drive as part of HUP's Holly Days program. PCAM's Therapy and Nursing teams were incredibly generous with their donations, providing many items and gift cards for one family (mother and two children) and a senior citizen in need.

Michael Brown, Kathryn Betcher, & Vicki Lynn ran into Santa Claus on the elevator. They were all assured they were on the Nice List this year and would be receiving exactly what they wanted for Christmas.
Department management was spreading some Holiday Cheer by providing Lifesavers to their lifesaving staff (pictured from left to right are Michael Brown, Sarah Lowitz, and Kate Gray

Medical Residents Holiday Party

LGH Team Meeting

Last huddle of 2023

Departmental all staff weekly huddle has been very successful in communicating info to the staff, empowerment of staff and resolving any immediate safety concerns.

Meena Swaminathan's Retirement Party

Left: Meena Swaminathan, Right: Katherine Madonna, Christie Foti, Meena Swaminathan, Jenine Iannaccone, Justin Bekelman

Melanie McCurdy's Retirement Party

Top left: Melanie McCurdy, Top right: Jodi Goane, Melanie McCurdy, Dr. Pamela Boimel, Sujatha Pai


Basket Raffle

Congratulations to all our lucky winners at this year's ACES Holiday Basket Raffle! We raised a total of $5,339 - thank you for your generous contributions which helped make this year's raffle a success! All funds will be going to the department's Patient Assistance Fund.

The Beam of Life Team

The Breakthrough Challenge bike ride will be on Sunday, September 15. The Radiation Oncology Beam of Life team is lead by co-captains Bill Barbour, Chris Laskey, and Christina McCrohan. The Breakthrough Challenge donates 100% of participant-raised funds to support breakthrough cancer research at the Abramson Cancer Center. This event has raised more than $2,525,000 over the past ten-years.

Save the Date: Next year's Breakthrough Challenge will be on Sunday, September 15, 2024

Five Questions With...


Nurse Practitioner at PCAM

1. What is a typical work day like for you? My typical day starts at 8am, and depending on the schedule of the 4 thoracic radonc attendings I support, I see a combination of OTVs, allied health visits, inspection visits, and return visits.

2. What led you to work at Penn Radiation Oncology? I was working at the VA as an NP in their medical oncology clinic since 2014 and I was ready for a change. I appreciate the teamwork and support of our group as we provide excellent care for our patients. I have learned so much in the 6 months of working here.

3. What are you currently watching/streaming? Fargo, season 5

4. What is your go-to self-care tip or trick? Making sure I am getting good night’s sleep

5. What is the best recipe you've tried recently? Pok Pok chicken wings

Cynthia Briola, RN, OCN, CBCN

Registered Nurse at PAH

1. What is a typical workday like for you? My role as a radonc staff nurse is to provide care to patients who will have, are having or have had radiation therapy. Each day is as varied as the patients I care for. I learn something new every day from either patients, their caretakers/family, or my coworkers.

2. What led you to work at Penn Radiation Oncology? I was recruited by Rose Mueller RN OCN, who I knew through our local Chapter of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS). I joined Penn Radiation Oncology in 2011, as the Cyberknife coordinator.

3. What are you currently watching/streaming? Netflix- Leave the World Behind.

4. What is your go-to self-care tip or trick? Daily meditation and monthly massages

5. What is the best recipe you’ve tried recently? I almost always end up changing whatever recipe I use. The recipe I never change is the one I use to make Irish Cream at Christmas and St Patty's Day.

Global Education

Penn Radiation Medicine Institute has welcomed visitors from The James Cancer Center at Ohio State University, the National Cancer Center in Singapore, the Shandong Cancer Hospital & Institute, and Lancaster General Health as part of our global education training program.

Global education visitors from Ohio State University, The James Cancer Center
Global education visitors from Shandong Cancer Hospital & Institute


Medical Residency

Mentorship Dinner

October 2023

Will Su, Monica Chelius, Melanie Berger, Gary Freedman, MAB, Cole Friedes (Missing: Cecilia Jiang who was with us in spirit from Asia!)

Marlene Kromchad – passed her C-TAGME Maintenance of Certification National Board Exam. This National Board for Certification of Training Administrators of GME establishes standards for the profession, to acknowledge the expertise needed to successfully manage GME programs, and to recognize those training administrators who have achieved competence in all areas related to their profession

Medical Resident Abigail Pepin, MD – received the Rad Onc Good Catch Award

Marlene Kromchad, C-TAGME and Cordelia Baffic were accepted to present at the Radiation Oncology Summit ACRO SEAL Meeting March 14th on “AROPA: Transformational Leaders Who Have Implemented Change”

Appointment of Residency Leadership Roles

Medical Physics Graduate Program


Mike Kijewski, MMP ’10, presents to MPGP students at a Town Hall

Town Hall with Alumnus Mike Kijewski, MMP ‘10: Students had the opportunity to meet Mike Kijewski, an MMP graduate from 2010. Mike is the cofounder and CEO of MedCrypt, a technology company that allows medical device vendors to secure their devices from cybersecurity threats, patch vulnerabilities and monitor device behavior. Mike shared about his path to industry and entrepreneurship, and students asked questions about his background and experience at Penn. Mike, a Philadelphia-area native, joined our students in-person from California, so refreshments included a few Philly specialties, such as soft pretzels and Tastykakes!

Medical Physics Resident, Mac Mein, PhD, provides a hands-on demonstration of PSQA to first-year MPGP students during clinic orientation.
Radiation Therapist, Angela Natale, provides a hands-on CT demonstration to first-year MPGP students as part of their Clinic Orientation

Clinic Orientation: In September, our first year students completed their Clinic Orientation. The MPGP Clinic Orientation prepares students for PSQA shadowing, an important part of the student experience. Clinical Orientation included a clinic tour, CT simulation demonstration from a radiation therapist, panel of clinicians who discussed their roles and what a patient experiences, an overview of the Quality and Safety program in the Department of Radiation Oncology, and a hands-on demonstration of the set-up for QA on the Proton and Linac machines.

Virtual Information Session: On October 11, MPGP hosted a virtual information session for prospective applicants. Applicants learned about program highlights and the application process from MPGP faculty and had the opportunity to ask about current student and alumni experience within the program.

MPGP Associate Director, Austin Kassaee, MS ’21, introduces alumnus Kurt Sysock, MMP ’10 at the October Town Hall

Town Hall with Alumnus Kurt Sysock, MMP ‘10: In October, students met with Kurt Sysock, MMP graduate from 2010. Kurt is the cofounder and CEO of RADformation. Kurt shared about his journey from our master’s program to industry and entrepreneurship, and gave his advice for success with students.

Front row, L to R: Mario Gallardo, Erika Bilokon, Alejandro Garcia, Bolin Li. Back row, L to R: Lyna Dinh, Andrew Friberg, Maddie Johnson, Ellen Park, Elissa Khoudary, Joe Caletri, Ila Farhang

SAC Lustgarten Walk: On Saturday, November 4th, the Student Advisory Committee (SAC) and MPGP students volunteered at the Lustgarten Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk, held at Cooper River Park in Pennsauken, NJ. This event, organized by the Lustgarten Foundation, the largest private funder of pancreatic cancer research, aimed to further their mission of raising awareness and funds for vital research initiatives. As volunteers, our students played a crucial role in various tasks, including event setup, distribution of t-shirts, assisting with registration and check-in tables, and managing refreshments. Post-volunteering, SAC organized a brunch for our MPGP students. The SAC enjoys volunteering at this annual event to benefit the Lustgarten Foundation.

2nd year MSMP student and SAC chair, Bolin Li, introduces Dr. Faiz Khan, International Day of Medical Physics invited speaker

International Day of Medical Physics: On November 7th, the Medical Physics Graduate Programs’ students celebrated International Day of Medical Physics alongside the Rad Onc Physics Division. Students hosted Dr. Faiz Khan, who spoke about his career in medical physics in his talk titled, "How I Stumbled Into the Field of Medical Physics”. Dr. Khan is a previous winner of the AAPM William D. Coolidge award, held the position of AAPM president. This day of celebration was organized by the MPGP SAC.

Dr. Rodolfo Altamirano leads the intercultural communication workshop for MPGP students
Drs. Stephen Avery and Shannon O’Reilly with faculty, staff and students from Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana

Global Clinical Practicum Planning Trip: In November, Stephen Avery, PhD and MPGP Program Director Shannon O’Reilly, PhD, traveled to Ghana to meet with radiation oncology leaders of hospitals and medical centers in Accra and Kumasi to discuss plans for a new international clinical practicum in Summer 2024 (contingent on grant funding). The Department of Radiation Oncology was awarded a $15,000 pilot grant, which funded the travel, to develop the practicum.

Town Hall: Communication Across Cultures Workshop: MPGP students participated in an interactive and engaging intercultural communication training led by Dr. Rodolfo Altamirano from the Penn Global iCommunicate team. Students gained an understanding of intercultural competence and humility as well as how to enhance communication in preparation for increasingly diverse and global workplaces.

Students at the Penn-Princeton Football game. Front row, L to R: Najah Curtis, Elissa Khoudary, Ellen Park, Chris Tyerech, Bolin Li. Back Row, L to R: Lyna Dinh, Maddie Johnson, Erika Bilokon, Mario Gallardo

11/18: SAC Football Event: Students attended the Princeton vs. Penn football game. While Penn unfortunately lost the game, the students enjoyed watching the game and the marching band. Afterwards, students warmed up in the MPGP student room for hot chocolate, pizza and dessert!

12/5: Winter Break Send-off – Board Game Night: This Student Advisory Committee-sponsored event included food from Hummus Grill alongside board games. Students played Settlers of Catan, Exploding Kittens, and Saboteur to celebrate the end of the Fall semester, and to relax before finals.

Rad Onc Leadership answer questions from MPGP students at their Town Hall

Town Hall: Panel Discussion with Rad Onc Leadership: On December 11, students met with leaders of the Department of Radiation Oncology. Dr. Jim Metz, Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology, Dr. Neha Vapiwala, Vice Chair of Education, and Dr. Kevin Teo, Vice Chair of Physics spoke to students about their current positions, professional opportunities, and advice for success. The panel also discussed students’ questions about leadership decisions and the impact of technology like AI on medical physics.

MPGP students enjoy food & drinks at the Post with Physics faculty and MPGP Associate Director, Austin Kassaee, MS.

End of Semester Celebration at The Post: Physics faculty, staff, residents celebrated the end of the Fall semester with our MPGP students at the Post. The evening was complete with games, appetizers and drinks.

Student Achievements

Ila Farhang, second year MSMP student, received the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Marie Sklodowska-Curie Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to women excelling in nuclear related fields.

Grace Chang, second year MSMP student, is the Deputy Director of Operations for Records for the GAPSA Executive Board. GAPSA advocates for student needs to the Board of Trustees, and is responsible for planning university wide social events, funding student led organizations, and organizing grants for professional and research related travel and academic expenses among many other services.

Muskan Lather, first year MSMP student, was appointed a Biomedical Graduate Student Association (BGSA) representative to the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA). GAPSA representatives advocate for and represent BGSA and its concerns at GAPSA meetings.

Presentations and Publications

Hai Siong Tan, PhD, second year MSMP student, was published in Physics in Medicine and Biology in July 2023 with his paper, “Modeling ultra-high dose rate electron and proton FLASH effect with the physicochemical approach”. Link to PubMed:

Weibing Yang, PhD, certificate student, will present the following at the SPIE Photonics West Conference, to be held in late January 2024 in San Francisco:

  • “A comparison of multichannel singlet oxygen luminescence dosimetry (MSOLD) and singlet oxygen explicit dosimetry (SOED)”
  • “Tissue optical properties correction of multispectral singlet oxygen luminescent dosimetry (MSOLD) for Photofrin-mediated Photodynamic Therapy”


Characterization of Cherenkov imaging parameters and positional constraints on an O-ring linear accelerator. Alexander DA, Majji S, Jermyn M, Byrd BK, Bruza P, Li T, Zhu TC. Phys Med Biol. 2023 Oct 13;68(20). doi: 10.1088/1361-6560/acfdf2. PMID: 37757840

One-Year Outcomes Following Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy for Refractory Ventricular Tachycardia. Arkles J, Markman T, Trevillian R, Yegya-Raman N, Garg L, Nazarian S, Santangeli P, Garcia F, Callans D, Frankel DS, Supple G, Lin D, Riley M, Kumaraeswaran R, Marchlinski F, Schaller R, Desjardins B, Chen H, Apinorasethkul O, Alonso-Basanta M, Diffenderfer E, Kim MM, Feigenberg S, Zou W, Marcel J, Cengel KA. Heart Rhythm. 2023 Oct 10:S1547-5271(23)02782-0. doi: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2023.10.005. PMID: 37827346

Reprogramming endothelial cells to empower cancer immunotherapy. Cleveland AH, Fan Y. Trends Mol Med. 2023 Nov 30:S1471-4914(23)00265-4. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2023.11.002. PMID: 38040601 Review

Surgical Inflammation Alters Immune Response to Intraoperative Photodynamic Therapy. Davis RW 4th, Klampatsa A, Cramer GM, Kim MM, Miller JM, Yuan M, Houser C, Snyder E, Putt M, Vinogradov SA, Albelda SM, Cengel KA, Busch TM. Cancer Res Commun. 2023 Sep 11;3(9):1810-1822. doi: 10.1158/2767-9764.CRC-22-0494. eCollection 2023 Sep. PMID: 37700795

Comparative assessment of radiation therapy-induced vasculitis using [18F]FDG-PET/CT in patients with non-small cell lung cancer treated with proton versus photon radiotherapy. Evanson D, Griffin M, O'Reilly SE, Johnson T, Werner T, Kothekar E, Jahangiri P, Simone CB 2nd, Swisher-McClure S, Feigenberg SJ, Revheim ME, Zou J, Alavi A. Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2023 Dec 14. doi: 10.1007/s00259-023-06535-3. PMID: 38095673

The Effective Radiation Dose to Immune Cells Predicts Lymphopenia and Inferior Cancer Control in Locally Advanced NSCLC. Friedes C, Iocolano M, Ho Lee S, Duan L, Li B, Doucette A, Cohen RB, Aggarwal C, Sun LL, Levin WP, Cengel KA, Kao G, Kevin Teo BK, Langer CJ, Xiao Y, Bradley J, Feigenberg SJ, Yegya-Raman N. Radiother Oncol. 2023 Nov 24:110030. doi: 10.1016/j.radonc.2023.110030. Online ahead of print. PMID: 38008414

Patterns of Failure in Metastatic NSCLC Treated With First Line Pembrolizumab and Use of Local Therapy in Patients With Oligoprogression. Friedes C, Yegya-Raman N, Zhang S, Iocolano M, Cohen RB, Aggarwal C, Thompson JC, Marmarelis ME, Levin WP, Cengel KA, Ciunci CA, Singh AP, D'Avella C, Davis CW, Langer CJ, Feigenberg SJ. Clin Lung Cancer. 2023 Sep 17:S1525-7304(23)00184-5. doi: 0.1016/j.cllc.2023.09.002. Online ahead of print. PMID: 37813713

Quality-adjusted survival in women with gynecologic malignancies receiving IMRT after surgery: A Patient Reported Outcome study of NRG oncology's RTOG 1203. Konski A, Deshmukh S, Klopp AH, Yeung AR, Westin SN, Thompson JS, Doncals DE, Cantuaria GHC, D'Souza DP, Chang A, Kundapur V, Mohan DS, Haas ML, Kim YB, Ferguson CL, Pugh SL, Kachnic LA, Bruner DW. Gynecol Oncol. 2023 Aug;175:176-181. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2023.05.074. Epub 2023 Jun 30.PMID: 37393743

Isolation of Epithelial and Stromal Cells from Colon Tissues in Homeostasis and Under Inflammatory Conditions. Morral C, Ghinnagow R, Karakasheva T, Zhou Y, Thadi A, Li N, Yoshor B, Soto GE, Chen CH, Aleynick D, Weinbrom S, Fulton M, Uzun Y, Bewtra M, Kelsen JR, Lengner CJ, Tan K, Minn AJ, Hamilton KE. Bio Protoc. 2023 Sep 20;13(18):e4825. doi: 10.21769/BioProtoc.4825. eCollection 2023 Sep 20. PMID: 37753470

Challenges and Opportunities for Implementing Hypofractionated Radiotherapy in Africa: Lessons from the HypoAfrica Clinical Trial. Elizabeth Olatunji, William Swanson, Saloni Patel, Samuel Olaolu Adeneye, Funmilayo Aina-Tofolari, Stephen Avery, et al., ecancer 17:1508 2023 DOI:

Parkin Deficiency Suppresses Antigen Presentation to Promote Tumor Immune Evasion and Immunotherapy Resistance. Perales-Linares R, Leli NM, Mohei H, Beghi S, Rivera OD, Kostopoulos N, Giglio A, George SS, Uribe-Herranz M, Costabile F, Pierini S, Pustylnikov S, Skoufos G, Barash Y, Hatzigeorgiou AG, Koumenis C, Maity A, Lotze MT, Facciabene A. Cancer Res. 2023 Nov 1;83(21):3562-3576. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-22-2499. PMID: 37578274

AAPM Task Group Report 311: Guidance for performance evaluation of fluorescence-guided surgery systems. Pogue BW, Zhu TC, Ntziachristos V, Wilson BC, Paulsen KD, Gioux S, Nordstrom R, Pfefer TJ, Tromberg BJ, Wabnitz H, Yodh A, Chen Y, Litorja M. Med Phys. 2023 Dec 6. doi: 10.1002/mp.16849. Online ahead of print. PMID: 38054538

Unedited allogeneic iNKT cells show extended persistence in MHC-mismatched canine recipients. Rotolo A, Whelan EC, Atherton MJ, Kulikovskaya I, Jarocha D, Fraietta JA, Kim MM, Diffenderfer ES, Cengel KA, Piviani M, Radaelli E, Duran-Struuck R, Mason NJ. Cell Rep Med. 2023 Oct 17;4(10):101241. doi: 10.1016/j.xcrm.2023.101241. PMID: 37852175

Integrated Capecitabine-Temozolomide with Radioembolization for Liver-Dominant G2 NETs: Long-Term Outcomes of a Single-Institution Retrospective Study. Soulen MC, Teitelbaum UR, Mick R, Eads J, Mondschein JI, Dagli M, van Houten D, Damjanov N, Schneider C, Cengel K, Metz DC. Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol. 2023 Dec 6. doi: 10.1007/s00270-023-03614-8. Online ahead of print. PMID: 38057498

Fractionated Photofrin-Mediated Photodynamic Therapy Significantly Improves Long-Term Survival. Sun H, Yang W, Ong Y, Busch TM, Zhu TC. Cancers (Basel). 2023 Dec 1;15(23):5682. doi: 10.3390/cancers15235682. PMID: 38067385

Single-fraction Radiation Treatment Dose Response in a Genetically Engineered Mouse Model of Medulloblastoma. Tu KJ, Stewart CE, Williams NT, Ma Y, Luo L, Ghosh D, Weidenhammer LB, Floyd SR, Fan Y, Kirsch DG, Oldham M, Reitman ZJ. Radiat Res. 2023 Nov 22. doi: 10.1667/RADE-23-00126.1. Online ahead of print. PMID: 37990957

Cardiac radiation dose is associated with inferior survival but not cardiac events in patients with locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer in the era of immune checkpoint inhibitor consolidation. Yegya-Raman N, Ho Lee S, Friedes C, Wang X, Iocolano M, Kegelman TP, Duan L, Li B, Berlin E, Kim KN, Doucette A, Denduluri S, Levin WP, Cengel KA, Cohen RB, Langer CJ, Kevin Teo BK, Zou W, O'Quinn RP, Deasy JO, Bradley JD, Sun L, Ky B, Xiao Y, Feigenberg SJ. Radiother Oncol. 2023 Nov 14:110005. doi: 10.1016/j.radonc.2023.110005. Online ahead of print. PMID: 37972736

Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy Reduces Patient-Reported Chronic Toxicity Compared With Conventional Pelvic Radiation Therapy: Updated Results of a Phase III Trial. Yeung AR, Deshmukh S, Klopp AH, Gil KM, Wenzel L, Westin SN, Konski AA, Gaffney DK, Small W Jr, Thompson JS, Doncals DE, Cantuaria GHC, D'Souza DP, Chang A, Kundapur V, Mohan DS, Haas ML, Kim YB, Ferguson CL, Pugh SL, Kachnic LA, Bruner DW. J Clin Oncol. 2022 Sep 20;40(27):3115-3119. doi: 10.1200/JCO.21.02831. Epub 2022 Aug 12.PMID: 35960897