I am pleased to announce the appointment of Fabian Marechal to the role of Chief Operating Officer, Department of Radiation Oncology for the Clinical Practices of the University of Pennsylvania. Fabian will report directly to me with an indirect reporting relationship to John Sestito, Executive Director, CPUP. In his new role, Fabian will oversee all administrative functions for the department and serve as a critical strategic planning and business partner for me and the department.
In a broad career that has spanned 23 years within healthcare and hospitality, notably 9 years with Penn Medicine, Fabian brings to the Department of Radiation Oncology a wealth of operational expertise and strategic inventiveness culled principally from his current role as Director, Division Administration for Hematology Oncology, and prior as Senior Director of Operations for the Department of Orthopaedics. As you know, Fabian has been supporting RadOnc as the Interim Associate Chief Operating Officer, working with interim COO Robert Challender to help stabilize and maintain operational efficiency within the department during a time of significant change and growth. Fabian has done an outstanding job for the department during this transitional time. This experience, concurrent with Fabian’s ongoing work in Hematology Oncology, will ensure a seamless transition in administrative leadership for the department.
Fabian has a strong, proven track record, meeting financial and operational objectives combined with a sound understanding of practice management, ambulatory operations and collaborative, innovative programs. He received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree at the Sorbonne University in Paris, and is currently working towards a Certificate in Healthcare Management from Harvard University.
Fabian will begin in his role as COO on September 14, 2020 and continue to support Hematology Oncology until a suitable replacement is identified for the Director, Division Administration role.
At this time, we also take the opportunity to acknowledge our gratitude to Bob Challender, who provided invaluable support during the search for a permanent COO of Radiation Oncology, while also performing exemplary work as COO of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine. Bob has been a great partner and given me outstanding guidance over the past 5 months, and he will continue to help us through Fabian’s transition into his new roll.
Theresa Busch, PhD
Please join me in congratulating Theresa Busch, PhD on her appointment as the Radiation Oncology Department’s first Vice Chair for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity. This new role will both report to and work closely with the Department Chair to oversee, promote, and facilitate excellence in diversity, inclusion, equity and anti-racism efforts across all aspects of the department. The Vice Chair is responsible for creating and maintaining a culture that embraces inclusion and ensuring that all departmental policies and practices are grounded in the tenants of equity and antiracism. Together with departmental leadership, the Vice Chair will examine our research, clinical and educational activities through the lens of diversity, equity and inclusion, and develop strategies to build a strong culture of antiracism as well as metrics to measure the success of these strategies.
Theresa has held the role of Radiation Oncology’s Diversity Search Advisor for new faculty hires, and will continue in this role in addition to her work as Vice Chair. Theresa has already begun leading our department’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, which is focused on finding ways to promote equity and inclusion both within the department and through patient clinical experiences. I am thrilled that Theresa has accepted this role and look forward to her leadership in this essential area.
Arun Goel, MD
We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Arun Goel as a Radiation Oncology Instructor at PCAM! Dr. Goel specializes in the management of cancer of all body sites with a clinical focus on genitourinary malignancies. He joins us from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where he served as the brachytherapy fellow over the past year. Dr. Goel has considerable experience using high dose rate (HDR) and low dose rate (LDR) interstitial brachytherapy in the management of prostatic and gynecologic malignancies.
Dr. Goel completed his residency with the Department of Radiation Oncology at California Pacific Medical Center. Prior to his residency, he earned his MD from Drexel University’s College of Medicine and his BA degree in biology from Dartmouth College.
Dr. Goel was trained in advanced radiation techniques, including stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), and image-guided intensity modulated radiation therapy (IG-IMRT). He rotated through the brachytherapy service at Kaiser Santa Clara where he became interested in intraoperative HDR radiation planning and delivery. Dr. Goel has had projects accepted at national and international conferences on topics including combination SRS and immunotherapy in the management of metastatic melanoma, and combination of HDR brachytherapy with hypofractionated radiation regimens in the management of prostate adenocarcinoma.
Dr. Goel’s office is located on the second floor of PCAM, room 2-322W. Please join me in welcoming him to our department!
We are thrilled to welcome Mike LaRiviere, MD to Radiation Oncology as an Instructor on the Palliative and GI services. Mike specializes in management of cancer of all body sites, with a clinical focus on palliative radiotherapy and the treatment of oligometastatic disease. He brings with him experience in image-guided radiation therapy, stereotactic body radiation therapy, reirradiation and pencil-beam spot-scanning proton beam therapy.
Mike completed his residency in our very own Department of Radiation Oncology, and his internship in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He holds an MD from Emory University School of Medicine and a BA degree in neuroscience from Amherst College. Prior to medical school, Mike worked on a novel therapeutic platform for glioblastoma with the Departments of Neurosurgery and Radiation Oncology at the University of Chicago.
During residency, Mike served as the Education Officer for Trainees, receiving grant funding to develop a 3D printing-based approach to improve medical student oncology education. He co-authored several clinical trials, peer-reviewed journal articles, and textbook chapters and lectured widely on topics related to radiation oncology. His research interests include taking a multidisciplinary approach to combining radiation with CART therapy, immunotherapy, and other novel systemic agents; developing novel biomarkers to predict treatment response; and leveraging new technologies to advance resident, medical student, and patient education.
Michele Kim, PhD
Michele Kim, PhD recently completed her residency, and joined us on July 1 as an Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology in the Clinician-Educator Track for Medical Physics. Dr. Kim specializes in therapeutic medical physics. Her research is focused on dosimetry and biological modeling for small animal studies, proton small animal studies, and dosimetry for FLASH radiation studies. Dr. Kim will coordinate the Professional Development Seminar course for the Medical Physics Graduate Program starting in Fall 2020.
Dr. Kim received her B.A. (physics and biophysics), M.S., and Ph.D. in physics from the University of Pennsylvania. During her graduate studies, she worked on photodynamic therapy dosimetry under the supervision of Dr. Timothy Zhu. She completed her certificate in medical physics during this time and joined the department as a postdoctoral researcher under the supervision of Dr. Eric Diffenderfer, where she was involved in commissioning of the small animal proton/photon research room. She completed her medical physics residency with the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania, where she continued to be involved in dosimetry and developments for FLASH radiation research. Dr. Kim is particularly interested in the translational aspects of novel techniques and partaking in large interdisciplinary research studies. Please join me in congratulating Dr. Kim on her position and welcome her back to the department as a faculty member!
Kristina Novick, MD
Kristina Novick, MD joined our department on July 1st as a Penn Medicine Clinician of Radiation Oncology at our Chester County Hospital location! Dr. Novick specializes in the treatment of cancer and benign diseases of multiple body sites, including brain, thoracic, gastrointestinal, skin, bone, genitourinary, gynecologic, and head and neck. She has expertise in the use of intensity modulated radiation therapy, image guided radiation therapy, stereotactic body radiation therapy, brachytherapy and unsealed sources.
Dr. Novick serves as an Alternate Delegate from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) to the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates. Recently, she has become an advocate for the appropriate use of opioid medications in cancer patients and challenges of prescribing opioid medication during the opioid epidemic. She was appointed as the ASCO representative to the AMA Opioid Task Force and is a member of the ASCO Opioid Use Panel. Dr. Novick is vice-chair for the American Radium Society Appropriate Use Criteria Breast Cancer Committee.
Prior to this position, Dr. Novick was an attending physician in Radiation Oncology at Rochester Regional Health in Rochester, New York, where she started in 2015. Dr. Novick received her undergraduate degree in economics from Princeton University, and her medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She completed her residency at the University of Rochester Medical Center. During her residency, she also earned a MS in biostatistics from the University of Rochester. Dr. Novick will be working in the Physician Touchdown space on the 2nd floor at PCAM for the next several weeks before she moves on to Chester County Hospital. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Novick to our Department!
Shannon O'Reilly, PhD
I am pleased to announce the appointment of Shannon O’Reilly, PhD to Assistant Professor of Clinical Radiation Oncology in the Academic Clinician Track. Dr. O’Reilly’s research interests include 4DCT ventilation, DECT, Monte Carlo dosimetry, and reducing radiation-induced toxicities. Her clinical responsibilities include proton radiotherapy, quality assurance, HDR brachytherapy and the thoracic site team.
Dr. Shannon O’Reilly earned her BS in Nuclear Engineering and an MS and PhD in Biomedical Engineering (Medical Physics concentration) from the University of Florida. She completed her residency training at the University of Pennsylvania, during which she was chief resident, and subsequently joined RadOnc as an Instructor. She is certified in therapeutic medical physics by the American Board of Radiology. For the Medical Physics Graduate Program, she previously coordinated the Professional Development seminar. Starting in the Fall term, Dr. O’Reilly will coordinate the Radiological Physics course and continue to serve on the Research and Admissions Committees. Currently, Dr. O’Reilly serves as the President-Elect for the Delaware Valley Chapter of AAPM. Please join me in congratulating Dr. O’Reilly on her promotion!
Sri Venigalla, MD
Congratulations to Dr. Sri Venigalla on his move to Penn’s Radiation Oncology Department at Lancaster General Hospital. Although we will miss Sri here at PCAM, we are thrilled he will be part of the LGH team!
Sri joined our Penn Medicine Radiation Oncology department in 2015 as a Resident, and was then hired as the evening physician here at PCAM. His congenial personality, encouraging attitude and overall exceptional work ethic leave a lasting and positive impression on his patients, as well as with everyone here at PCAM. We know he will be a tremendous success at Lancaster General Hospital.
A padlet site was created for Sri – allowing everyone to share their best wishes as he moves on to LGH (it’s not too late to add to it if you like)! https://padlet.com/radonc_officeofchair/FarewellSri Please join me in thanking Sri for his contributions to PCAM, and wishing him well on the next stage of his career.
Kimberly Benjamin, MD, MSc has decided to take a new position outside of Penn Medicine and depart Pennsylvania Hospital effective October 16, 2020. Dr. Benjamin has been an amazing asset to PAH. We are happy for her as she pursues a position in industry at Merck in the division of Head and Neck Cancer. Dr. Benjamin joined the PAH team in October of 2018, and built great partnerships throughout the institution – she will be greatly missed! We thank Dr. Benjamin for her service to the department and wish her best of luck in her future endeavors!
Congratulations to Ann Marie Siegal, MD on her retirement, effective July 31, 2020. Dr. Siegal has been an attending physician at Penn’s Chester County Hospital for 22 years. She has served as a member on the Cancer Committee, the Institutional Review Board, the Radiation Safety Committee, and the Breast Cancer Task Force during her time at Chester County Hospital. Since 2004, Dr. Siegal has been the chairman of the Breast Cancer Task Force. Dr. Siegal joined our department in 1999 as a Clinical Assistant Professor and worked at a variety of network sites over the years. We are excited for Dr. Siegal as she begins this new chapter in her life, and are equally pleased that she will stay on as a per diem physician. We thank Dr. Siegal for her continued service to our department and wish her the best in her retirement!
Association of Oncology Social Work's Quality of Life in Cancer Care Award
Christina and her dog Linus, who works as a pet therapy dog in PCAM
Christina Bach, MBE, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C, FAOSW has been selected as the 2021 recipient of the Association of Oncology Social Work’s Quality of Life in Cancer Care Award, sponsored by the American Cancer Society. The prestigious award was established to highlight oncology social work’s commitment to improving the lives of people with cancer and those who care for them. The award is designed to honor individuals whose contributions through education, direct service, publications and presentations, reflect a commitment to quality of life for cancer survivors.
As the recipient of AOSW’s 2021 Quality of Life in Cancer Care Award, Christina was featured as a keynote speaker at the organization’s virtual conference on August 8th, 2020. Her lecture titled Co-Existing with Cancer and COVID: Ramifications for Ethical, Clinical, and Anti-Racist Oncology Social Work Practice offered an overview of the many obstacles that patients, families, caregivers and the health care team are faced with during the pandemic. She challenged her Oncology Social Work colleagues to continue to “pivot” to offer support and services to their patients and families. Christina shared statistics on individuals impacted by COVID to focus on current health care disparities.
Christina is a national leader in the field of clinical oncology social work, a bio-ethicist a social work educator, and a staunch advocate for the financial and insurance security of cancer patients. She has practiced in oncology for more than 20 years in inpatient and outpatient settings and is currently the psychosocial oncology content editor at Oncolink.org. In this role, she develops educational content for cancer patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals. She has a strong interest in financial and insurance concerns and has developed a series of educational videos about health insurance, updating them annually to reflect the changing landscape in health insurance.
At OncoLink, she conducts research on psychosocial topics including financial toxicity, insurance and practical concerns facing people with cancer. With the OncoLink team, she has published numerous scholarly articles in journals such as Cancer, The Journal of Cancer Survivorship, and The Journal of Oncology Practice.
Christina is an instructor and field liaison at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice (SP2) where she also served as the Associate Director for The Advanced Certificate in Oncology Social Work Practice program at SP2. She lectures regularly on bioethics and social work, with a particular interest in the intersection of technology, medicine, and social work practice.
Christina has worked on the planning committee for 4 AOSW conferences and has presented at many more. She has given many continuing education presentations and webinars, often on her favorite topic – ethics in social work practice. She helped create the Tri-State One-Day Social Work Conference, an annual conference that draws social workers from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Christina guided AOSW through their Association of Social Work Boards accreditation, which allows them to provide continuing education to social workers nationwide.
In her spare time, she serves as the group facilitator for the Philadelphia Multiple Myeloma Networking Group and as a Financial and Insurance Specialist for the Cancer Support Community Helpline. She also works regularly with her two certified therapy dogs, Linus and Huck, and in cancer treatment settings at Penn Medicine as well as in literacy programs at local libraries. Christina serves on the Board of Directors and as a therapy dog evaluator for Comfort Caring Canines, Inc. Christina also has experience in Veterinary Social Work and does consulting and teaching on the human-animal bond, pet loss and animal assisted interventions and therapy and animal ethics/welfare.
American Cancer Society's Quality of Life Award Ceremony
Christina's slides at the virtual award ceremony
Radiation Research Foundation Career Development Award
Congratulations to Ioannis Verginadis, Senior Research Investigator, on winning the Career Development Award from the Radiation Research Foundation on the project entitled “Delineating the role of STAT3 on normal tissue radioprotection and pancreatic tumor radiosensitization in a preclinical setting ”. This proposal is based on data generated in the past 2 years regarding the effects of focal radiotherapy on intestinal damage. Together with Dr. Constantinos Koumenis and Dr. Edgar Ben-Josef, Ioannis developed a novel, more clinically relevant mouse model of intestinal radiation injury based on precision, image-guided radiotherapy using the Small Animal Radiation Research Platform (SARRP). This model gives us the unique capability to fully mimic the clinical setting because we can study both irradiation(IR)-induced damage to the normal intestine and the impact of IR on orthotopic pancreatic tumor models in the same mice. The goal of this effort is to translate the findings into human clinical trials for early detection and therapeutic intervention of radiotherapy(RT)-induced intestinal toxicity. If the results are promising, Dr. Ben-Josef will initiate a clinical trial using the STAT3 inhibitor OPB-51602 combined with RT as a novel treatment for pancreatic tumors.
Sang Ho Lee, PhD, Gary D. Kao, MD, PhD, Steven J. Feigenberg, MD, Jay F. Dorsey, MD, PhD, Melissa A. Frick, MD, Samuel Jean-Baptiste, MD, Chibueze Z. Uche, PhD, Yong Fan, PhD, Ying Xiao, PhD
Sang Ho Lee, PhD is an Award Winner at the Science Council Session of the 2020 American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) annual meeting for the abstract entitled “Multi-block Discriminant Analysis of Integrative 18F-FDG-PET/CT Radiomics for Predicting Circulating Tumor Cells in Early Stage Non-small Cell Lung Cancer Treated with Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy”.
ASTRO Awards and Presentations
2020 Annual Meeting Abstract Award: Resident Recognition Award - Poster Viewing, Physics Category
Hui Lin, PhD, Justin Bekelman, MD, Lei Dong, PhD, Taoran Li, PhD, Hien Lu, Kevin Teo, PhD, and Jennifer Zou, PhD received the Resident Recognition Award - Poster Viewing, Physics Category, one of the ASTRO Annual Meeting Abstract Awards. Their abstract “A Deep Learning Method for Auto-Segmentation of Cardiac Substructures on Non-Contrast Planning CTs in the RADCOMP Trial” includes colleagues from Penn's Department of Cardiovascular Medicine as co-authors. This award showcases a resident-lead investigation honored by ASTRO, inter-institutional and inter-departmental collaboration, the latest machine learning technology, and automatic segmentation applied to clinical trails data.
Anish Butala, MD had two submissions accepted for oral presentations at this year's ASTRO conference.
- Butala AA, Williams GR, Maxwell RJ, Carmona R, Jordan M, Davis EL, O’Connor N, Kumar P, Paydar I, Jones JA. The Impact of Provider-Driven Serious Illness Conversations on Length of Palliative Radiotherapy for Bone Metastases. Oral Presentation. ASTRO 2020 Annual Meeting. October 2020.
- Butala AA, Williams GR, Carmona R, Doucette A, Gabriel PE, Paydar I, Jones JA. Development and Validation of a 74 Variable Stepwise Machine Learning Algorithm to Predict for Palliative Intent Radiotherapy. Quick Oral Presentation. ASTRO 2020 Annual Meeting. October 2020.
NAPT Conference Presentations
- Opportunities For Combined Chemotherapy And Protons – James M. Metz, MD
- Proton Flash - Promises And Pitfalls – James M. Metz, MD
- Engaging With Patients As Partners: How To Build An Exceptional Patient Experience In Your Center – Fern Nibauer-Cohen
- Virtual Reality For Staff Training – Laura Kendrick, MHA, BS RT(T) and Courtney Misher, MPH, BSRT(T)
- Best Practices In Digital Marketing - Megan Lawless
O’Reilly S, Harris W, Cheng C, Jain V, Burgdorf B, Teo BK, Dong L, Berman A, Feigenberg S, Zou W. Constraining higher dose volumes for thoracic proton radiotherapy. Oral Presentation. PTCOG Virtual Meeting. September 2020.