Speakers


James M. Metz, MD

James M. Metz, MD
Henry K. Pancoast Professor and Chair of Radiation Oncology, Executive Director, Oncolink

James M Metz, MD is the Henry K. Pancoast Professor and Chair of Radiation Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. He oversees the clinical activity at the Roberts Proton Center, Penn conventional treatment center, and 15 conventional satellite facilities. He has been intimately involved with the development of the Roberts Proton Center through the RFP process, contracting, construction, opening, and ramp up of the center to full operations.  He is also overseeing the development of two single room proton centers at Lancaster General Hospital in central Pennsylvania and at Virtua Voorhees Hospital in South Jersey.   Dr. Metz is also Executive Director of OncoLink, the world’s largest Internet resource for cancer information and proton based training. His clinical interests include the multidisciplinary management of gastrointestinal cancers, integration of proton therapy in the cancer treatment paradigm, and the expansion of quality and safety initiatives to improve clinical outcomes for patients.

Neha Vapiwala, MD

Neha Vapiwala, MD
Professor and Vice Chair of Education, Associate Dean of Admissions,  Perelman School of Medicine, Radiation Oncology

Neha Vapiwala, MD is Professor and Vice Chair of Education in the Department of Radiation Oncology, and the Associate Dean of Admissions at the Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania. She specializes in the management of patients with genitourinary (GU) cancers, serving as the department’s first Chief of GU Oncology. Her research interests focus on biological and technological improvements in the delivery of photon- and proton-based radiation, as well as molecular imaging and integrative medicine as an intervention for disease- and treatment-related symptoms. She is the Principal Investigator of multiple therapeutic trials for prostate cancer patients, including a recently NCI-approved randomized phase III cooperative group trial exploring the use of PET-directed therapy in patients with recurrent prostate cancer. She was Project Leader on a Department of Defense program project grant investigating proton therapy. Dr. Vapiwala also holds leadership positions in multiple national and cooperative group committees in GU oncology, and presently serves on the NCI Prostate Cancer Task Force as well as the ECOG-ACRIN GU Early Modality committee in the role of Co-Chair.  She was also recently elected to the board of directors of American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), and serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, JAMA Oncology, and International Journal of Proton Therapy.

In addition to being a leader in the field of GU oncology, Dr. Vapiwala has a strong interest in medical education.  She has served on the Executive Committee of the National Association of Directors of Radiation Oncology Programs and is presently the Chair of the National Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education’s Residency Review Committee.

Michelle Alonso-Basanta, MD PhD

Michelle Alonso-Basanta, MD PhD
Associate Professor, Vice Chair of Clinical Division, Chief of Central Nervous System Service, Radiation Oncology

Michelle Alonso-Basanta, MD, PhD is the board-certified Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. She is the Vice Chair of the Clinical Division and Section Chief for Central Nervous System for the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania.  She completed her undergraduate studies with a degree in Chemistry from New York University.  She went on to obtain her PhD in Pathology with a focus on molecular genetics as well as her medical degree from New York University. She completed her residency in radiation oncology at New York University where she also served as Chief Resident.  Dr. Alonso-Basanta specializes in diseases of the central nervous system, base of skull, head and neck, and spine, including expertise in stereotactic cranial and extracranial radiotherapy.  She is trained in the use of image-guided, intensity modulated radiotherapy, proton radiotherapy, stereotactic radiosurgery (gamma knife radiosurgery) and stereotactic radiotherapy (Cyberknife, linac-based).  Her clinical and research interests are in normal tissue sparing and prevention and management of long term effects in patients with central nervous system tumors including the skull base.

Abigail T. Berman, MD, MSCE
Assistant Professor, Radiation Oncology; Associate Director, Clinical, Penn Center for Precision Medicine; Residency Program Director

Dr. Abigail T. Berman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology (and was recently appointed as Associate Program Director for the Radiation Oncology residency program). She did her undergraduate work at Harvard University in chemistry and medical school and residency at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, where she also received her Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology with a focus on clinical trials. She specializes in the treatment of patients with lung cancer and other thoracic malignancies with photon and proton radiation therapy. Dr. Berman leads research programs in thoracic radiation oncology, including a focus on the microbiome and immunotherapy combined with re-irradiation. Dr. Berman has received research funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Radiologic Society of North America. She is the Associate Director, Clinical, of the Penn Center for Precision Medicine and Program Director of the Radiation Oncology Residency. She is the NCCN steering committee representative from Penn, serves on several NCCN panel committees, and is a member of the Penn Thoracic Cancer Service Line and other workgroups at ITMIG, ASTRO, and PCG.

Brendan Burgdorf, MS
Medical Physicist, Radiation Oncology

Brendan Burgdorf is a proton therapy physicist and treatment planner in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He received his Masters of Medical Physics degree from the University of Pennsylvania where he also completed his medical physics residency training. His clinical responsibilities include treatment planning, planning and delivery support, staff and student training, and quality assurance.

Elizabeth Garver, MS
Medical Physicist, Chief of Proton Physics, Radiation Oncology

Elizabeth Garver is the chief physicist of the proton division in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She received her Masters of Medical Physics degree from the University of Pennsylvania where she also completed her medical physics training. Her focus is on the daily practices in the proton therapy clinic including treatment planning and delivery support, staff and student training, and quality assurance methods.

Brett Hartl, MMP, DABR
Medical Physicist, Radiation Oncology

Brett Hartl is a physicist of the proton division in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He received his Masters of Medical Physics degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He provides clinical support including treatment planning and delivery support, staff and student training, physics consultation, and quality assurance methods, with a focus on proton treatment planning practices.

Christine Hill-Kayser, MD
Associate Professor, Chief of the Pediatric Radiation Oncology Service, Radiation Oncology, Editor-in-Chief, Oncolink

Christine Hill-Kayser, MD is the Chief of the Pediatric Radiation Oncology Service and an Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology at Penn Medicine, as well as Editor-in-Chief of OncoLink, an Internet resource for cancer information and survivorship care planning. Her clinical work focuses on radiotherapy for treatment of pediatric brain and solid tumors, with emphasis on proton therapy. Dr. Hill-Kayser is the Chair of the Pediatric Proton Research Committee at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia/Penn Medicine. Her research interests include pediatric radiation oncology, survivorship, and use of proton therapy to minimize late effects of radiotherapy and improve quality and quantity of life for cancer survivors.

Danielle Hoffman
Director, Revenue Cycle and Payer Initiatives, Radiation Oncology

Danielle M. Hoffman, BS is the Director of Revenue Cycle and Payer Initiatives for the Department of Radiation Oncology at Penn Medicine. She is responsible for the entire revenue cycle process at the Robert Proton Therapy Center and at our nine network locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. She is responsible for both technical and professional accounts receivable for all sites.  Danielle has been a healthcare revenue cycle for more than 25 years.

Laura Kendrick, MHA, BS RT(T)
Radiation Therapist, Radiation Oncology

Laura Kendrick is a Radiation Therapist at Penn Medicine in the department of Radiation Oncology for 10 years. She completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Radiation Therapy from Gwynedd-Mercy University and her Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration from St. Joseph’s University. Laura has extensive experience in proton therapy, training of radiation therapist’s both domestic and internationally and has created multiple proton training videos for different vendors. Laura has been with Oncolink since 2017, but joined part-time in 2020 as Global Education Coordinator and is currently developing virtual reality training modules to train radiation therapist around the world.

Alexander Lin, MD
Associate Professor, Vice Chair of Faculty Affairs, Chief of Head and Neck Service, Medical Director, Roberts Proton Therapy Center, Radiation Oncology

Associate Professor, Vice Chair of Faculty Affairs, Chief of Head and Neck Service, Medical Director, Roberts Proton Therapy Center, Radiation Oncology

Alexander Lin, MD is an Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology at Penn Medicine. He also is the Chief of the Head and Neck Cancer Section, the Medical Director of the Roberts Proton Therapy Center, and the Vice Chair of Faculty Affairs. His clinical interests include the multidisciplinary management of head and neck cancers, integration of proton therapy in the cancer treatment paradigm, and the use of novel radiosensitizers agents in altering tumor microenvironment/hypoxia to improve disease outcomes. Dr. Lin is a NIH-funded clinical investigator, and his research program has been focused on his efforts on the integration of proton therapy for cancer treatments, toxicity mitigation and quality of life improvement through novel and conformal radiation delivery methods, and the development of integration of novel agents to target tumor microenvironment for cancer of the head and neck.

Richard Maughan, PhD
Professor, Radiation Oncology

Richard Maughan graduated from the University of Birmingham, England with an honors degree in physics in 1970. He completed his PhD in Nuclear Physics at the same institution in 1974. From 1974 to 1983 he worked as a member of the scientific staff of the Cancer Research Campaign Gray Laboratory at Mount Vernon Hospital in England, where he was involved in basic radiation physics, chemistry, and biology research. He moved to the USA in the fall of 1983, where he took a position as a medical physicist and a member of the faculty in the Radiation Oncology Department of Wayne State University, in Detroit. He played a major role in the development and application of a superconducting cyclotron as a neutron source for neutron radiation therapy. During his time at Wayne State University the neutron therapy program developed to be the most active program in the world.

In July 2000 Dr. Maughan moved to the University of Pennsylvania where he was appointed Professor, Director of Medical Physics and Vice Chair in the Department of Radiation Oncology. In this role, he was a key member of the proton therapy development team, participating in the specification of the system, vendor selection, and overseeing acceptance and commissioning. Under his direction, the Medical Physics Division expanded from about 30 people to a staff of over 80. He stepped down as Division Director in June 2013 and is currently a Professor in the department. His research interests are particle therapy: neutrons, heavy ions, with the current emphasis on proton therapy.

Courtney Thomas Misher, MPH, BSRT(T)
Radiation Therapist, Radiation Oncology

Courtney Misher is a Radiation Therapist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in the Department of Radiation Oncology and is a Global Education Coordinator for OncoLink.  She completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Radiation Therapy from Indiana University, and received her Master’s Degree in Public Health from Benedictine University.  She has fourteen years of experience in radiation therapy, which includes an expertise in proton therapy, and pediatrics.  Her current focus is on developing comprehensive virtual reality training videos for new proton users covering the application of proton therapy.

Fern Nibauer-Cohen
Director, Patient Engagement and Business Development, Radiation Oncology

Fern Nibauer-Cohen is the director of patient engagement and business development in the department of Radiation Oncology at Penn Medicine. She created and oversees the Roberts Proton Therapy Patient Alumni Program, which engages patients who have had proton therapy treatment to stay connected with the Center through mentoring other patients, attending weekly Gathering Meetings, and providing a forum for connections on multiple levels. She is responsible for the department’s Quality of Life Program which provides integrative oncology services to patients and care givers such as yoga, pet therapy, art therapy, and exercise. Fern is deeply committed to working with patients and caregivers to cultivate a community for engagement and providing the highest level of patient centered care at Penn Radiation Oncology. She oversees a number of innovative programs that incorporate video, virtual reality, and other modalities that express the patient/caregiver narrative.

John Plastaras, MD, PhD
Associate Professor, Chief of GI/Lymphoma Service, Radiation Oncology

John Plastaras, MD, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology. He completed his undergraduate work at Emory University, earning 2 Bachelors’ degrees and a Master’s of Science in Chemistry in 4 years. He graduated from Vanderbilt University with dual MD/PhD degrees in 2002, after which he completed an Internship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Dr. Plastaras subsequently performed his radiation oncology residency training at the University of Pennsylvania where he was a Holman Pathway Research Fellow. In 2007, he joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in the treatment of hematologic and gastrointestinal malignancies. He has served as the principle investigator of prospective trials using proton therapy for upper GI cancers, esophageal cancer, and for reirradiation. He has studied the use of proton therapy for the treatment of GI cancers as well as Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin lymphomas.

Neil Taunk MD, MS
Assistant Professor, Radiation Oncology

Neil K. Taunk, MD, MS is an Assistant Professor and radiation oncologist at the University of Pennsylvania. He earned his MD and Masters in Clinical and Translational Sciences at Rutgers University. He finished residency at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where he completed post-doctoral research in molecular imaging and radionuclide therapy. Dr. Taunk’s clinical interests are in breast and gynecologic cancers, proton therapy, and brachytherapy. His research interests are in PET and MR-guided radiation therapy and novel applications of proton therapy and brachytherapy.

Kevin Teo, PhD
Medical Physicist and Associate Professor, Radiation Oncology

Dr. Teo is a key member of the imaging team for medical physics responsible for implementing new imaging protocols for PET, CT, CBCT, and MRI in the radiation oncology department. One of his primary research interests is the development of quantitative tools in the analysis of CBCT for proton therapy. These tools may be used for treatment verification to maximize the benefit of the unique dosimetric properties of proton therapy. He has a special interest in the use of MRI and CT to extract functional as well as motion related information for the purposes of robust radiation treatment planning and for assessment of treatment response. In addition, he is developing tools to reduce proton range uncertainty using prompt gamma imaging and dual energy CT.

Edna Volz

Edna Volz, MS, ASQ CMQ/OE, CSSBB
Director, Quality Management and CEQI, Radiation Oncology

Edna Volz is the Director of Quality Management for the Department of Radiation Oncology at Penn Medicine.  Edna is responsible for directing the Safety Culture and Quality Programs in this large, geographically diverse, and growing department.   Her team of improvement advisors leads robust process improvement initiatives, manages the incident reporting process, facilitates culture of safety survey and action plans, and facilitates excellence model implementation including APEx accreditation, QUEST internal audit program, and the Baldrige regional excellence model journey.

Edna Volz has Master of Science degree in Computer Science, and American Society for Quality (ASQ) Certifications as Manager of Quality and Organizational Excellence (CMQ/OE), and, Six Sigma Black Belt (CSSBB).  Edna is experienced with excellence model implementation, improvement and innovation methodologies, culture of safety, and TJC High Reliability Organization components.

Lingshu Yin, PhD
Medical Physicist, Radiation Oncology

Lingshu Yin received his PhD degree from the University of British Columbia, Canada. He completed his residency training at the University of Pennsylvania and joined the proton physics team afterwards. He has been working on various proton development projects including cone beam CT, prompt gamma imaging and dual energy CT clinical applications. His focus is on the commissioning, beam modeling and quality assurance of proton therapy.