Henning Willers, MD
Associate Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, Harvard Medical School
Associate Radiation Oncologist, Department of Radiation Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital
DF/HCC Program AffiliationLung Cancer
I am a clinician-scientist with a special interest in the management of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). My clinical efforts have focused on improving treatment outcomes for patients with this deadly disease. I have also been very active in radiation biology since 1991 and as a laboratory-based PI since 2005. My basic and translational research activities are directed at furthering our understanding of how NSCLCs respond to radiation and radiosensitizing drugs. Specifically, we seek to identify the signaling pathways that contribute to the radioresistance of KRAS-mutant lung adenocarcinoma which is an emerging clinical problem. This effort is funded by a grant from the American Cancer Society. We also have established a cancer cell line screening platform for precision radiation medicine. This project addresses an important need in the field to better understand the utility of known and novel radiosensitizing targeted agents in panels of annotated cancer cell lines that provide models of genetic tumor heterogeneity seen in patients. Eventually, these efforts are expected to yield correlations between genomic biomarkers and radiosensitizing agents that can be tested in clinical trials. Lastly, a distinct line of investigation involves the study of DNA repair pathways which are increasingly recognized to be altered in lung cancer. The goal of these studies is to establish genomic as well as functional protein biomarkers that will allow us to identify patients whose tumors will exhibit increased sensitivity to specific DNA damaging treatments, including proton beam radiation and PARP inhibitors. Together, these investigations are hoped to reveal novel therapeutic opportunities, including rational combinations of targeted agents with standard (photon) radiation or proton beam radiation, for personalized treatment of patients with NSCLC.
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