Radiation Oncology Faculty, Trainee Honored with Awards

Published October 12, 2017

Two faculty members and a trainee in the Department of Radiation Oncology have been recognized with awards in the areas of education and research, respectively.

Malhotra Receives ARRO Educator of the Year Award

Harish Malhotra, PhD, research associate professor and senior medical physicist, was presented with the Association of Residents in Radiation Oncology (ARRO) Educator of the Year Award for 2017.

Each year, ARRO honors one outstanding faculty member at each participating institution.

Chief resident Ami Patel-Yadav, MD, presented Malhotra with the award in recognition of his significant contributions over the years to the development of numerous residents who have graduated from the radiation medicine residency program and who are now practicing all across the country.

Honor Validates Teaching Methods Are Well Received

Malhotra, who has been involved in resident teaching for more than 15 years, says receiving the award “will always be at the top of the achievements of my professional career.”

“It even motivates me further to work hard in my teaching responsibilities as I firmly believe that a teacher is a student for life,” he adds.

Malhotra notes that “teaching is very challenging because not only does one have to know the subject, but one also needs to be able to explain it in a logical and eloquent manner.”

“This award gives me immense satisfaction that the teaching methods honed over years of experience, coupled with the recently introduced ‘active learning’ strategies in the class, have been well received by the students,” he says.

AAPM Board Appointment Provides National Voice

Malhotra has also been appointed to the board of directors of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM), a scientific and professional organization of more than 8,000 medical physicists primarily working in medical imaging and radiation therapy.

“As a board member, I will try to ensure that its core mission of ensuring accuracy, safety and quality in the use of radiation in medical procedures is further strengthened,” he says. “It is an honor and privilege to have a voice in the leadership of AAPM at the national level.”

His three-year term as the upstate New York chapter’s representative to the AAPM board begins Jan. 1, 2018.

Resident’s Research Honored for 2nd Consecutive Year

Charlotte Rivers, MD, a third-year radiation medicine resident, was presented with the Radiologic Society of North America’s Roentgen Resident/Fellow Research Award for the second consecutive year.

The award is given to residents or fellows in an ACGME-accredited program in North America in order to recognize and encourage outstanding research as evidenced in presentations of scientific papers at regional or national meetings, publication of scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals and other research activities. 

In the past year, Rivers has been first author on two papers, her research has been twice presented at national meetings, and she has continued work on another manuscript and participated in the development of three prospective clinical trials.

“It is definitely an honor to receive this award, and it means a lot to hear positive feedback about the work I have been doing,” she says.

Studying Gamma Knife Radiosurgery Patient Outcomes

At Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI), Rivers has been working with Dheerendra Prasad, MD, academic scholar, who is medical director of RPCI’s Department of Radiation Medicine and director of its Gamma Knife Center.

Working with a database of patients treated with Gamma Knife radiosurgery for central nervous system malignancies, they are conducting several retrospective studies looking at different populations.

“We have found that in many patients — even with large numbers of brain metastases — we are still able to spare a large amount of normal brain with the use of radiosurgery as opposed to traditional whole brain radiation therapy,” Rivers says.

“The idea is that sparing normal brain tissue will likely result in better neurocognitive outcomes and improved quality of life for these patients.”

Department Faculty, Resources Provide Key Support

Rivers has also been working on a number of projects with Anurag K. Singh, MD, clinical professor. They involve several prospective studies and potential clinical trials focusing on the treatment of oral mucositis in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation.

“Both Dr. Prasad and Dr. Singh have invested a lot of time in discussing projects with me, helping with statistical analysis, reviewing multiple drafts of papers and guiding me through the publication process,” Rivers says.

Rivers also credits the director of the radiation medicine residency program, David M. Mattson Jr., MD, assistant professor, and Matthew B. Podgorsak, PhD, research associate professor, and Harish Malhotra, PhD, as being “very supportive.”

“I am thankful that I work in a department full of resources and faculty that are always willing to help — as well as fellow residents I have worked with on many of these projects,” she says.

Residents Present Teaching Award to Fung-Kee-Fung

Simon Fung-Kee-Fung, MD, assistant professor, was presented with the 2017 Walter T. Murphy Teaching Award by the radiation oncology residents in appreciation of his outstanding teaching efforts, continued support and dedication to residents.