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U.S. National Institutes of Health
Cancer Diagnosis Program Cancer Imaging Program Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program Developmental Therapeutics Program Radiation Research Program Translational Research Program Biometric Research Branch Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Last Updated: 04/25/2012

About the Associate Director

Norman Coleman

C. Norman Coleman, M.D., holds an undergraduate degree in mathematics from the University of Vermont and received his medical training at Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Coleman completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, a fellowship in medical oncology at NCI, and a fellowship in radiation oncology at Stanford University. More…


Killing cancer cells and eradicating cancer while minimizing damage to healthy cells is the goal of radiation therapy. About half of all patients with cancer undergo radiation therapy, the majority of them with curative intent. Finding new ways of using radiation therapy more effectively and with fewer side effects is paramount for maintaining patients’ quality of life and improving cure rates. This entails innovative uses of technology and biology, and integration into multimodality cancer care and research as well as improving access of underserved people to quality cancer care.

As part of an ongoing effort to stimulate research in radiotherapy and radiation biology, the Radiation Research Program (RRP) of the Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis (DCTD) supports clinical, translational, and basic research by:

  • Providing expertise to investigators who perform cutting-edge research using radiation and other forms of energy

  • Assisting the radiotherapy research community in establishing priorities for the future direction of radiation research

  • Evaluating the effectiveness of radiation research being conducted by National Cancer Institute (NCI) grantees

  • Providing medically underserved communities with access to cancer care and access to clinical trials involving radiation therapy

RRP also coordinates its activities with other radiation research efforts at NCI, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), other federal agencies, and national and international research organizations. Additionally, RRP serves as a focal point for extramural investigators concerned with clinically-related radiation oncology and biology research.

RRP supports research involving a variety of radiation therapeutic modalities:

  • Ionizing radiation: Radiation therapy using high-energy photons and new technology for the physical delivery of radiation therapy, including intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and image-guided radiotherapy, brachytherapy using temporary and permanent implanta­tion of radioactive sources, and particle therapy, in particular the most widely used form, proton therapy. Carbon ion therapy is also under development worldwide

  • Non-ionizing radiation: Various forms of non-ionizing radiations, including both electromagnetic and physical transport of energy, for the therapeutic treatment of cancer. Photodynamic therapy using lasers or other light sources combined with a light-sensitive drug (sometimes called a photosensitizing agent) and hyperthermia (heat), alone or in combination with radiation and/or chemotherapeutic drugs

  • Combined modality therapy: This includes chemotherapy, molecularly-targeted therapy, immunotherapy, other radiation modifiers (sensitizers, protectors, and mitigators), and innovative use of nanotechnology for improving radiotherapy.

The RRP contains three branches:

  • Radiotherapy Development Branch
  • Clinical Radiation Oncology Branch
  • Molecular Radiation Therapeutics Branch

Working with NCI and NIH Grant and Contract Awardees

The primary responsibility of RRP is to the grantees and contractors of NCI and NIH awards. In 2011, RRP adminis­tered 169 awarded grants, primarily through the Radiotherapy Development Branch.

The research portfolio of RRP encom­passes a broad range of topics, includ­ing basic radiation physics track structure; DNA damage and repair; radiation-inducible molecular changes, including signaling and apoptosis; tumor biology; radiation sensitizers and protectors; normal tissue injury and treatment; image-guided radiation therapy; systemic targeted radionuclide therapy; photodynamic therapy (PDT); and others. The field of radiation oncology is unique in the breadth of expertise and knowledge required for both preclinical development and optimal clinical use.

RRP helps stimulate new areas of inves­tigation by bringing together experts in workshops on current and developing topics in the areas covered by this program. These are often co-sponsored by scientific societies. The RRP endeavors to include young investigators in the workshops and has occasional workshops targeting young investigators.

Radiotherapy Development Branch

Eric Bernhard, Ph.D., Branch Chief

Pat Prasanna, Ph.D.

Rosemary Wong, Ph.D.

The Radiotherapy Development Branch (RDP):

  • Plans, develops, executes, and administers a program in preclinical radiation research that has potential application to cancer therapy, encompassing the topics and modalities described above

  • Serves as a focal point for radiation biologists to relate to the NCI in terms of its research and training programs

  • Organizes workshops and meetings to identify new research opportunities and potential interdisciplinary collaborations, and disseminates workshop reports and summaries

  • Collaborates with other RRP branches, as well as with other programs within NCI and other NIH Institutes; members serve as subject matter experts to other agencies within the Federal Government and International Agencies on radiation-related topics of common interest

Clinical Radiation Oncology Branch

Bhadrasain (Vik) Vikram, M.D., Branch Chief (also Deputy Associate Director, RRP)

James A. Deye, Ph.D.

Jacek Capala, Ph.D., D.Sc.

The Clinical Radiation Oncology Branch (CROB)

  • Plans, develops, executes and administers a program that facilitates clinical/translational radiation oncology research, with radiation oncology broadly defined to include radiation used alone and in combination with physical, surgical chemical, immunologic and other biological agents; hyperthermia; and radiation modifiers

  • Serves as a focal point for radiation oncologists to relate to the NCI in terms of its research and training programs

  • Reviews all clinical trials involving radiation therapy and assists and advises the Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program (CTEP) and the Cancer Imaging Program (CIP) in protocol review and the radiotherapy aspects of the clinical cooperative group program

  • Collects and disseminates information on cancer treatment research involving radiotherapy and allied disciplines

  • Conceptualizes and organizes workshops and conferences with appropriate collaborators and disseminates workshop reports and summaries to develop specific areas of radiation therapy

  • Participates in clinical, developmental, investigational, educational, and extra-mural community-related activities of the Radiation Oncology Sciences Program, including the Radiation Oncology Branch and the Cancer Disparities Research Partnerships. In consultation and collaboration with the Radiotherapy Development Branch and Medical Physics, participates in quality assurance activities, cooperative group liaisons, site reviews of the NCI and NIH

  • Participates in the activities and initiatives of NCI’s International Collaborations Working Group (ICWG) and the Office of International Affairs (OIA) to synergize and coordinate efforts

Molecular Radiation Therapeutics Branch

Stephen S. Yoo, Ph.D., Branch Chief

The Molecular Radiation Therapeutics Branch (MRTB) is an RRP in-house laboratory program that serves as a focal point for collaborations with the Developmental Therapeutics Program (DTP) and CTEP in DCTD, investigators in the Radiation Biology and Radiation Oncology Branches in the Center for Cancer Research (CCR), and university and industry collaborators interested in combined modality therapy using radiation. MRTB has undergone a major expansion on the NCI-Frederick campus, in proximity with DTP drug development and molecular imaging in DCTD and CCR. The MRTB will also play a major role in developing radiosensitizers as part of the NCI Experimental Therapeutics Program (NExT).