Research Areas

A large group of the faculty is engaged in a number of comprehensive research programs ranging from the basic laboratory radiation research, through a rich translational research program focused on linking laboratory with the clinic and the translation of the advances in technology to the clinic.

A full clinical research program that includes clinical trials complements these efforts and is supplemented by a growing population based research initiatives.

Translational Biology Research

Activities are focused on the influence of tumour microenvironment and molecular genetics on tumour responses and outcome. There is extensive collaboration between the Department and the Departments of Medical Biophysics, Laboratory Medicine and Pathology.

The major programs are focused on:

  • gynecological
  • prostate
  • breast cancer
  • head and neck cancer

The most well established programs are:

  • Tumour hypoxia using cervix cancer as a model (Dr. Fyles)
  • Role of PTEN tumor suppressor gene in endometrial cancer (Dr. Fyles)
  • Genetic (Dr. Bristow) and micro-environmental determinants (Dr. Milosevic) of prostate cancer radioresistance and metastasis
  • Molecular pathologic prognostic markers (Dr. Liu) and molecular imaging of breast cancer
  • Molecular genetics of head and neck cancer (Drs. Mackenzie and Kim)


Medical Physics research at PMH and OCC is in the general area of image guided precision radiation therapy. There is strong collaboration between medical physicists, radiation therapists, and radiation oncologists within the department.

Several novel technology-based clinical programs and clinical trials have been established including:

  • conformal radiotherapy
  • stereotactic radiosurgery
  • HDR
  • prostate brachytherapy
  • target and organ definition and motion

At PMH, technology research is driven by Dr. David Jaffray, one of Canada’s Top 40 under 40 for 2004, and one of the top 10 Best of the Best in Medical Imaging.

Clinical Trials

Clinical research is the principal type of research undertaken by the Department. Current clinical research activities are primarily site-based, although they can also be grouped under the general thematic areas of combined modality, fractionation, quality of life, organ preservation, tumour staging etc.

Clinical trials are conducted in:

  • Brain tumours
  • Breast cancer
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Endocrine tumours
  • Gastrointestinal cancer
  • Genitourinary cancer
  • Gynecological cancer
  • Lymphoma/leukemia
  • Lung cancer
  • Palliative oncology
  • Pediatric tumours
  • Sarcomas
  • Skin cancer

Health Services

Health services research activities have continued to grow. Several faculty members are cross appointed to the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) or  the Department of Health Policy, Management & Evaluation including Drs. Bezjak, Hodgson, Paszat, Rakovitch, Wong, Ringash and Wiljer.

Examples of health services research are:

  • Myocardial infarction after radiotherapy for breast cancer (Dr. Paszat)
  • Processes and outcomes of care for soft tissue sarcoma of the extremity (Dr. Paszat)
  • Surveillance mammography following treatment of primary breast cancer (Dr. Paszat)
  • Population-based assessment of patterns of care of DCIS in Ontario (Dr. Rakovitch)


The emphasis of current research is on the evaluation of residents and faculty, faculty development, and distance education for Radiation Therapists.