Center for Integrative Biomedical Computing

Advanced Four-Dimensional Visualization and Imaging for Radiation Oncology

Dr. George Chen

The mission of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Mass General Hospital (MGH) is to improve the treatment and cure rates of cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy. In order to achieve this goal, precise knowledge and control of the radiation dose distribution is necessary. Recent advances in four-dimensional CT now provide new information on tumor and normal tissue motion during treatment. However, appropriate visualization and image processing/segmentation tools are lacking for four-dimensional data. In particular, Proton Beam Research (Jay Loeffler,MD) is an NCI funded program project whose goal is to advance charged particle beam development. Projects I and II deal with clinical trials investigating the potential of Dose Escalation and Reducing Treatment Morbidity respectively. Project III deals with physics research and development; an important aspect of technical delivery of charged particle beams involves understanding organ motion through four-dimensional CT imaging.

The proposed collaboration is between our Center and the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). The principal investigator at the MGH for this collaboration is Dr. George TY Chen, who is Head of the Division of Radiation Physics in the Department of Radiation Oncology at MGH, and Professor of Radiation Oncology at Harvard Medical School. The Division of Radiation Physics is responsible for the treatment of approximately 400 patients per day in the various treatment centers in Boston, of which MGH is the primary site. The group includes approximately 20 PhD physicists/scientists, 9 MS physicists, and support staff. The major physics related investigational efforts include 1) proton beam radiotherapy (an NCI program project is currently funded with Jay Loeffler, MD as principal investigator, Dr. Loeffler is chairman of the Radiation Oncology Department at MGH), this project relies on precise delivery of proton beams for cancer treatment; 2) image guided therapy, including four-dimensional CT and image guidance in the treatment room to control precise daily irradiation of tumors; and 3) optimization in treatment planning, led by Dr. Thomas Bortfeld, one of the pioneers of intensity modulated radiotherapy.

Dr. Chen's interests have been in the area of imaging in radiation therapy. Prior to coming to MGH/Harvard, Dr. Chen was Director of Radiation Oncology Physics at the University of Chicago Medical Center, where he was also the Associate Director of the Graduate Program in Medical Physics. There, with collaborator Dr. Charles Pelizzari, Dr. Chen co-authored papers on multi-modality imaging using surface imaging techniques. Prior to that appointment, Dr. Chen was Clinical Physics Director of the Heavy Ion Project at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and Associate Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. The LBL project involved developing novel irradiation techniques using heavy ions. Dr. Chen received his training in medical physics as a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard Joint Center for Radiation Oncology.