Dr. Xiaodong Zhang
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Radiation Physics
My research focuses primarily on the development of new methods to improve the quality, efficiency and consistency of radiotherapy. There are two major research areas: (1) optimizing proton radiotherapy, and (2) automation in radiotherapy. Our research covers all aspects of proton radiotherapy including fundamental technology development, benefits and clinical implementation of proton therapy for various disease sites including lung, esophagus, prostate, liver, breast, and skull base chordoma. We have established in-house IMRT and IMPT systems which are being used for research at MDACC. The establishment of this research infrastructure allowed my team to be one of the most competitive research groups in IMPT/IMRT-related research. We expect that one of the important topics in future radiotherapy technology development is to reduce the cost of radiotherapy while achieving the same therapeutic ratio realized by the most advanced techniques. An important way to achieve this is through automation. To meet this unmet need, we invented "mdaccAutoPlan" system, which has the potential to automate IMRT/VMAT/IMPT treatment planning to the extent that human intervention is minimal. We anticipate that we will continue to extend this work to other aspects of radiotherapy including automatic contour delineation, automatic quality assurance, automatic chart check, etc. Our vision is that automation based on the artificial intelligence theory and much improved optimization algorithms will change the practice of radiation therapy, which will evolve from a high-tech therapy to low-tech therapy.