A Message from Dr. Metz

As the calendar year winds down and the Holidays come upon us, it is important to reflect on our accomplishments of this past year and our goals for the future. Our team has done an outstanding job across our research, education, and clinical missions this past year. The successes and accomplishments are many, which we continue to celebrate. I feel our future is even brighter with our commitment to developing future leaders in the department and field of radiation oncology. We have worked to socialize our strategic plan, which we are using to make critical decisions for the departments future. I appreciate the positive response it has received from our team. We will continue to push the envelope with new developments, research, and partnerships. We have a number of exciting things on the horizon which I look forward to sharing with you in the coming months as our opportunities are executed. In the meantime, take a bit of time to enjoy time with your friends and family. I wish you all a wonderful Holiday Season!

In the News

Virtual Reality Experience in Waiting Area

In August, a virtual reality relaxation station was installed to the waiting area to help reduce stress and anxiety of patients and caregivers during treatment. You can read about the launch of the virtual reality experience in the Philly Voice, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Applied Radiation Oncology, and the Daily Pennsylvanian! You can also try it out for yourself: an identical virtual relaxation station to the one in the waiting room was installed in the touchdown space across from Proton Room 4 in PCAM for all staff to use.

Press Ganey High Scores for FY18

Press Ganey Patient Survey responses for FY2018 (7/1/17 through 6/30/18) indicate high marks that deserve recognition. From the survey sent to patients once they have completed treatment at Network locations and at PCAM, these questions scored a mean at or above 95%.

Thank you for all you do every day to maintain our high standards for quality and safety.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Helps Relieve Radiation Side Effects

After receiving radiation therapy over a decade ago, David Wolf began experiencing pain in his lower spine, legs, and hips. At the suggestion of Dr. James Metz, David tried hyperbaric oxygen to relieve his symptoms - and it worked. Please read the entire story describing how the hyperbaric medicine chamber at Penn Medicine was used to treat David's side effects in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

ASTRO Reception - October 22, 2018

Alamo Beer Company, San Antonio, TX

A fun time was had by all! Even though the weather didn't cooperate, the warmth of our department's friends and family was on tap!

5th Annual Course on Proton Therapy - November 16-18, 2018

"Charting New Frontiers in Proton Therapy: The Penn Experience"

This year's Proton Course was another success! In partnership with IBA and OncoLink, Radiation Oncology hosted over 100 attendees representing 10 countries. This year's course highlighted the patient experience. in particular. Alumni patient Arianne Missimer was the keynote speaker during lunch on Saturday, and shared her story of training and competing on American Ninja Warrior after receiving proton therapy. There was also an opportunity for attendees to view a new department virtual capabilities video, which will be used as a patient education tool. And in addition to Department staff volunteers, alumni patients Marvin Weizer, Tracy Krug, and Martha Gordon assisted with guiding attendees on a tour of the CN Level at PCAM.


Join the Rewards and Recognition Committee!

The Rewards and Recognition Committee is looking for new members as we begin to plan events for 2019. Membership is open to the entire department, including network locations! If you are interested in joining as a member or co-chair, or know a colleague who would be a great addition to the committee, please submit your name or your colleague's name to Committee Co-Chairs Andrea Rycroft (Andrea.Rycroft@uphs.upenn.edu) and Mary Callahan (Mary.Callahan@uphs.upenn.edu).

Visiting Professor Lecture Series

Every year, the medical residency program invites nationally and internationally recognized leaders in radiation oncology to speak to the residents as well as meet with department faculty. Each Visiting Professor gives an lecture at 8:00am at the ACC grand rounds at PCAM, which is then followed by a lecture at 12:00pm in Conference Room TRC-2 on the second floor. Please mark your calendars for the following lectures:

  • December 5, 2018: Akila Viswanathan, Johns Hopkins University
  • January 15, 2019: Phillip Devlin, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School
  • April 10, 2019: Jeffrey Bradley, Washington University School of Medicine

Breakthrough Bike Challenge

Thank you to alumni patients Rich Towson and Bill Barbour who represented Radiation Oncology's Beam of Life Team at the Breakthrough Bike Challenge on September 16, 2018!

Left to Right: Rich Towson and Bill Barbour

Have You Recognized Someone Lately?

Have you noticed a colleague going the extra mile? Someone whose attitude makes the workplace better? A job well done or a problem solved? We want to know!

In Radiation Oncology, "Excellence is Standard" - so please take a moment to nominate a colleague who you think deserves recognition for embodying our department's mission and vision through his or her work.

Meet the Newest Members of Our Team!

(Left to Right: Trish Beck, Charity Calloway, Will Cara, Lisa Lav)

Patricia Beck

Trish Beck joins our Department as a Practice Administrator for Physics and Dosimetry. In her prior role, she was a Radiology Image Supervisor. Trish earned her Bachelors of Science in Education from Philadelphia University. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and eating. Trish is also a USAA-trained swimming referee! Contact Trish at Patricia.Beck@uphs.upenn.edu

Charity Calloway

Charity joins our Department as a Patient Engagement Coordinator on the Patient Engagement and Business Development Team. Previously, she was a Survey Specialist. Charity received her Bachelors of Science from Villanova University and will complete her Masters of Science from Saint Joseph's University in December 2018. Her hobbies include acrylic painting, running outdoors, and yoga. Contact Charity at Charity.Calloway@uphs.upenn.edu

William Cara

Will joins our Department as a Financial Analyst. He previously was a Financial Analyst at Boston Medical Center. Will is a graduate of Boston University. In his spare time, he enjoys playing soccer, music, and cooking. Contact Will at William.Cara@uphs.upenn.edu

Lisa Lav

Lisa joins our Department as a Patient Services Associate. In her prior role, she was an Administrative Assistant. She is a graduate of Drexel University. Contact Lisa at Lisa.Lav@uphs.upenn.edu

(Left to Right: Amberly Mendes, Kendra Poirier, Greg Rao, Ana Rodriguez)

Amberly Mendes

Amberly joins our Department as a Research Intern. She is a recent graduate of Suffolk University, where she earned her Bachelors of Science in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. Her hobbies include playing soccer, running, listening to podcasts, and reading. Contact Amberly at Amberly.Mendes@uphs.upenn.edu

Kendra Poirier

Kendra joins our Department as a Clinical Research Coordinator. Previously, she was a Clinical Research Assistant at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Public Health and Biology from Franklin & Marshall College. Kendra enjoys obstacle course racing, binge watching "The Great British Bakeoff," and hiking with her dog, Sadie. Contact Kendra at Kendra.Poirier@uphs.upenn.edu

Gregory Rao

Greg joins our Department as a Dosimetrist. He received his degree in Radiologic Technology and Psychology. Contact Greg at Gregory.Rao@uphs.upenn.edu

Ana Rodriguez

Ana joins our Department as a Staff Assistant, supporting Michelle Sparrow, MBA, RN, Associate Chief Operating Officer. Prior to Penn, she served as an Administrative Services Supervisor for the City of Philadelphia/DHS. Ana earned her Associate's Degree in Applied Science and Technology and is currently in the process of completing her Bachelor's Degree. Contact Ana at Ana.Rodriguez@uphs.upenn.edu

Employee Recognition

Congratulations to our colleagues on their achievements!


Amit Maity, MD, PhD, has been appointed to be the Executive Vice Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology, effective October 1, 2018. Dr. Maity is the Morton M. Kligerman Professor and most recently has been the Vice Chair of the Clinical Division, a role he has held since 2015. He joined the department in a faculty capacity in 1997, and has held a wide variety of leadership roles across the department. In his new capacity as Executive Vice Chair, Dr. Maity will have oversight for Vice Chairs across the department, as well as for the regional medical directors. Congratulations to Dr. Maity on his appointment!

Michelle Alonso-Basanta, MD, PhD has been appointed as Vice Chair of the Clinical Division, effective October 1, 2018. Dr. Alonso-Basanta will continue in her role as Chief of the CNS Service. She will also continue in her role as Director of QA/QI until a transition plan is announced in the coming months. She was recently promoted to Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology at HUP in the Standing Faculty-Clinician Educator track. Dr. Alonso-Basanta joined the Department in 2008, after completing her PhD in Pathology, Doctorate of Medicine, and residency at New York University. Dr. Alonso-Basanta has been the Helene Blum Assistant Professor and serves as the Director of Quality Assurance, Associate Chief of Clinical Operations, and Chief of the CNS Service. One direct result of her QA role has been the creation and updating of electronic sim orders and the updating of ARIA orders to improve existing workflows. Dr. Alonso-Basanta’s research focuses on adult brain and base of skull tumors, and she has also provided leadership in the field in the use of stereotactic radiosurgery and is internationally recognized in this area. Congratulations to Dr. Alonso-Basanta on her appointment!

Constantions Koumenis, PhD has been appointed to be the Associate Director for Translational Research for the Abramson Cancer Center. Dr. Koumenis is also the Richard H. Chamberlain Professor, Vice-Chair, and Director of Radiation Oncology Research at Penn. He has served in a Co-Leader role for the Radiobiology and Imaging Program at the ACC since 2009 and is the co-Director of the Radiation Oncology Translational Center of Excellence. A major focus of the research in Dr. Koumenis’ lab is to investigate the role of the tumor microenvironment, including oxygen and nutrient metabolism, in tumor progression and resistance to chemo/radiation therapy. His group develops strategies for targeting these stress adaptive processes to achieve better therapeutic outcomes in patients with solid tumors. Congratulations to Dr. Koumenis on his appointment!

Alexander Lin, MD has been appointed to be the Vice Chair of Faculty Affairs, effective September 1, 2018. Dr. Lin joined the Department in January 2009 and was promoted to Associate Professor (Standing Faculty-Clinician Educator track) in 2017. He will retain his existing roles as Chief of the Head and Neck Service and Medical Director of the Roberts Proton Therapy Center. Among his first initiatives in his new role will be the creation of a formal mentoring program for junior faculty, a project he is undertaking in partnership with Rebecca Struwe, MA Chief of Staff. This program will be announced at the September faculty retreat, and formally launched for FY20. Over the past several years, Dr. Lin has mentored multiple individuals, including medical students, residents, and junior faculty. His history as a mentor and his commitment to faculty development make him ideal for this position. Congratulations to Dr. Lin on his appointment!

Ima Paydar, MD joins Penn Radiation Oncology as a Clinical Instructor. Dr. Paydar received her Doctor of Medicine from Washington University in St. Louis in 2013. In 2018, she completed her residency in Radiation Oncology at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, where she was Chief Resident in her PGY-5 year. Dr. Paydar will be based at PCAM, where she will be responsible for providing patient care in the evening, as well as supporting the palliative service. Her office is located at 2-325W in PCAM. Welcome Dr. Paydar!

Sonal Mayekar, MD joins Penn Radiation Oncology as a Clinician based primarily at Doylestown. She completed her residency in Radiation Oncology at Rush University, where she served as Chief Resident in her PGY-5 year. Dr. Mayekar received her Doctor of Medicine from Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson Medical College. While she will be based primarily at Doylestown, Dr. Mayekar will providing other network coverage as well. Welcome Dr. Mayekar!

Kimberly Benjamin, MD joins Penn Radiation Oncology as a Clinician providing coverage throughout our network sites. She completed a fellowship in breast radiation oncology, oligometastatic disease, and immune-oncology at Weill Cornell Medical College in August 2018. She completed her radiation oncology residency at UT Southwestern in 2017, where she also completed her MD. Welcome Dr. Benjamin!


Dr. Lemuel Ariaratnam and William Rate, MD, PhD, FACRO have announced their their plans to retire. Dr. Ariaratnam will retire on December 31, 2018 and Dr. Rate will retire on June 30, 2019. Dr. Ariaratnam joined Penn with the transition of the Virtua practices in 2017. In addition to building the Virtua practices, he served as its Medical Director for more than 20 years. Dr. Rate joined Penn in 2011 and has served as the Medical Director at Doylestown and of the Penn Radiation Oncology Network practices for the past seven years. We will celebrate the contributions of Dr. Ariaratnam and Dr. Rate in the coming months. We thank both men for their dedication to our Department and the field of radiation oncology!

Regional Medical Director Structure

Effective September 1, 2018, we will implement a new Regional Medical Director structure in our network. The rapid growth in the network has led us to a decision to move away from a single Network Medical Director to a regional model. Initially, we will have three Regional Medical Directors, but the model is scale-able and can accommodate future growth. The Regional Medical Directors will report to Amit Maity, MD, PhD, and site medical directors will report to their Regional Medical Director.

Suneel Nagda, MD will serve as the Regional Medical Director for the White region, encompassing PAH, Radnor, Valley Forge, and VAMC. Dr. Nagda joined the Department in 2012. He is an Associate Professor of Clinical Radiation Oncology (Associated Faculty – Academic Clinician) and also serves as the Director of Network Quality and Safety, as well as the Site Director at PAH for the Department’s Medical Residency Program.

Benjamin Goldsmith, MD will serve as the Regional Medical Director for the Blue region, encompassing Cherry Hill, PPMC, Virtua Mount Holly, Virtua Voorhees, and Virtua Washington Township. Dr. Goldsmith joined the Department in 2016. He is a Penn Medicine Clinician who serves as Medical Director of Penn Medicine Cherry Hill.

Kenneth Blank, MD will serve as the Regional Medical Director for the Red region, encompassing CCH, CHH, Doylestown, and LGH. Dr. Blank joined LGH as the RadOnc Medical Director in September 2017; he is also an Adjunct Associate Professor.

This model can be utilized for clinical, technical, and operations management as well. The physics and operations teams will be working on incorporating this model in the coming months.

There will be further discussions of this new structure at upcoming faculty and staff meetings.

Medical Director at Pennsylvania Hospital

Jim Kolker, MD will be stepping down from his role as Medical Direct at Pennsylvania Hospital, effective December 31, 2018, in order to focus his efforts on clinical patient care. Thank you Dr. Kolker for your leadership at PAH!

ILROG Guidelines on Proton Therapy for Mediastinal Lymphoma

The International Lymphoma Radiation Oncology Group (ILROG) recently published guidelines on the use of proton therapy for mediastinal lymphoma. This set of guidelines was heavily influenced by the work of those currently at Penn Medicine as well as some of our alumni, Dr. Stefan Both and Dr. Chuan Zeng, who pioneered the use of pencil beam scanning for mediastinal lymphomas. Please see the reference below for more information.

Dabaja BS, Hoppe BS, Plastaras JP, Newhauser W, Rosolova K, Flampour S, Mohan R, Mikhaeel NG, Kirova Y, Specht L, Yahalom J. Proton Therapy for Adults with Mediastinal Lymphomas: The International Lymphoma Radiation Oncology Group (ILROG) Guidelines. Blood. 2018 Aug. 14 PMID: 30108066

CAREs Grant Recipients

Congratulations to Cordelia Baffic on receiving a CAREs Grant Award for Camden Street Ministry! Cordy serves as a volunteer for this organization, which provides food, clothing, and shelter for people living in the city's streets. Every Saturday, the needy can go to two of the ministry's trucks, filled with donations of clothing and food, that are parked in empty lots. Camden Street Ministry does not receive any government grants. The $1,000 CAREs Grant Award will be used to purchase food such as hot dogs and hamburgers.

Congratulations to Martjoel Racca on receiving a CAREs Grant Award for the Church of Philadelphia's Food Distribution service. Every Wednesday and Saturday mornings along the church front yard, 30-50 people line up to receive produce, baked goods, meat, and dairy donated by ShopRite. The funds from the grant were used to buy four canopy tents needed for their year-round, all weather service.

The Penn Medicine CAREs Grant Program was founded to provide institutional support for our employees and medical students who selflessly volunteer their time to serve our neighborhoods. Please click on the link below to apply for a grant to support your work in the community!

Justin Bekelman, MD - Recipient of 2018 American Cancer Society Philadelphia Cancer Control Award

The award was presented at the organization's Annual Awards Dinner on November 1, 2018 at the King of Prussia Crown Plaza Hotel. Established in 1995, the annual honor recognizes an individual "who has made a major and unique contribution to cancer control."

Alfonso Dominguez - Presented "The Number of Patients and Diagnoses Treated with Scanned Proton Beam Therapy at RPTC over the Years" at the Skandion Clinic in Uppsala, Sweden on October 3, 2018

Lauren Burling, MSW, LCSW  - Passed the social work clinical examination on August 22, 2018 to obtain her LCSW

Amy Miller - Joined our Chestnut Hill satellite as a part-time staff therapist from PCAM

Kevin Nead, MD, MPhil - Finalist for 2018 ASHG/Charles J. Epstein Trainee Award for Excellence in Human Genetics Research

Neal Nizan, MSW, LCSW will be teaching one of the courses being offered in the new Penn Advanced Certificate in Oncology Social Work program, which is launching on September 29, 2018. This is a post-masters certificate program for social workers to advanced their skills through targeted knowledge and learning. Neal's course will be offered in May 2019. Several of the social workers on the Radiation Oncology team will be completing the certificate program.

Shannon O'Reilly, PhD - AAPM 2018 Best of Physics Poster

Lynn Hutchinson, Reiki Practioner

Lynn Hutchinson, pictured second from left

The Patient and Family Services Department of the Abramson Cancer Center hosted a 10 Year Reiki Anniversary Luncheon Celebration. Lynn Hutchinson, pictured second from left in the photo above, is the Reiki Practitioner for Radiation Oncology. She has been volunteering her services twice a week for 8 years on the CN Level in PCAM. Thank you Lynn for your service!

Social Scene

Phillies Day - July 25, 2018

The team at PCAM enjoys the spread of snacks!
Staff at Chester County shows some Phillies pride!

Rita's Water Ice - August 22, 2018

Department De-Stress with Linus the Pet Therapy Dog

Dragon Boat Festival - October 6, 2018

Each year, Penn Radiation Oncology and IBA team up and compete as the Flying Protons in the Annual Dragon Boat Festival.

#WomenWhoCurie - November 7, 2018

In honor of Marie Curie's birthday, Radiation Oncology celebrated its amazing female radiation oncologists at PCAM and in the networks.

Around the Network

Cashless Copay Collections Goes Live at Chestnut Hill

Chestnut Hill has successfully implemented Cashless Copay Collections at their location! Great work to all who helped get this system up and running. Thanks to their hard work, Cashless Copay Collections will now be rolled out at other network locations.

Chester County Wins Team of the Year at CPUP Penn Medicine Experience Ceremonies

Congratulations to Chester County Radiation Oncology for winning the Team of the Year Award!

Pennsylvania Hospital Wins 2 CPUP Press Ganey Awards

The Pennsylvania Hospital Radiation Oncology Team was honored at the CPUP Penn Medicine Experience Ceremonies for winning 2 CPUP Press Ganey Awards. The practice won in both "Likelihood to Recommend" and "Access" Press Ganey award categories. These awards are determined by stellar Press Ganey scores and/or improvement over the course of FY18.

OncoLink Receives the 2018 CPEN Excellence in Education Award

Congratulations to OncoLink on receiving the 2018 Excellence in Education Award from the Cancer Patient Education Network! This award recognizes individuals or programs that use creative approaches to develop and circulate cancer education to patients and health care professionals. The award honors the OncoLink educational content team, which includes managing editor Carolyn Vachani, MSN, RN, oncology content specialist Karen Arnold-Korzeniowski, BSN, RN, and psychosocial oncology content editor Christina Bach, MBE, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C. Please read the full press release by clicking the link below.

Where in the World Is Penn Radiation Oncology?

Thessaloniki, Greece

Andre Konski, MD was in Thessaloniki, Greece at the Interbalkan Medical Center visiting Dr. Despoina Misailidou, a resident classmate from the University of Rochester, and met Petros Alexidis, MD who had spent time in the department working with both Dr. Alex Lin and Dr. John Christodouleas a few years ago.

A Visitor from the United Kingdom

Lord O'Shaughnessy, UK Parliamentary Secretary of State for Health, toured the Roberts Proton Therapy Center with Dr. Metz on Sept. 24, 2018.

Congratulations, Quality!

Winners of the 2018 MAAPE Proficiency Award

On November 7, 2018, Radiation Oncology was awarded the 2018 Proficiency Award by the Mid-Atlantic Alliance for Performance Excellence. COO Susan Popp accepted the award on behalf of the department, saying:

"Thank you for this recognition of how far we have come on our journey. Our journey didn't start with Baldridge in mind. It started in 2008 when we were listed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as the 5th worst nuclear accident due to a weak safety culture. At that time our leadership committed to making excellence our standard and we started asking how we could become excellent. The beauty of the Baldridge criteria is that I did not simply provide a checklist or a how-to. The Baldridge criteria encourages you to ask the question, "How can we be excellent?" We've made a lot of progress since 2008 - because we asked the questions. We have made (and can show) improvements for our patients, our team, and our partners - because we asked the questions. We'll continue on our journey towards excellence as our standard because we will continue to ask the questions. On behalf of our team here tonight and 542 people who could not be here, thanks to MAAPE for your support of our journey towards excellence."


We are excited to announce that the Medical Physics Graduate Programs -- Master of Science in Medical Physics and Certificate in Medical Physics -- have relaunched within the Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM) at the University of Pennsylvania and will resume admission for Fall semester of 2019.

The programs’ new administrative home in the Department of Radiation Oncology creates an ideal alignment of faculty, clinical, and research resources under one roof. Our high-quality, clinically-focused programs will meet the continued high demand for training of medical physicists. Our graduates have been quite successful, placing into highly competitive medical physics residency programs year after year. Given our depth of faculty commitment, strong educational environment, and commitment of financial and faculty support, the Medical Physics Graduate Programs have a solid foundation here.

We now seek talented applicants to apply for Fall semester of 2019. If you know of potential students who would be a good fit for our programs, please forward our website to them and refer their names to Andrea Radine, Administrative Director, at andrea.radine@uphs.upenn.edu or 215-662-3617 so that she may contact them with additional information.


2018 SUPERS Students

This summer, 14 students participated in SUPERS: Summer Undergraduate Program for Educating Radiation Scientists. They completed a 10 week research training program in the labs of 13 different PIs in Radiation Oncology, Radiology, and Bioengineering. They presented their summer projects in an all-day retreat on August 8, 2018, featuring Keynote Speaker Dr. Sandra Ryeom from the Department of Cancer Biology.


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Pustylnikov S, Costabile F, Beghi S, Facciabene A. Targeting mitochondria in cancer: current concepts and immunotherapy approaches. The End-to-end Journal. 2018 July 31. Doi: 10.1016/j.trsl.2018.07.013

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Soulen MC, van Houten D, Teitelbaum UR, Damjanov N, Cengel KA, Metz DC. Safety and Feasibility of Integrating Yttrium-90 Radioembolization With Capecitabine-Temozolomide for Grade 2 Liver-Dominant Metastatic Neuroendocrine Tumors. Pancreas. 2018 Jul 19. PMID: 30028446

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