David Joel Carlson PhD

Associate Professor of Therapeutic Radiology

Research Interests

Biological optimization of radiation therapy; Tumor hypoxia and reoxygenation effects; Proton and heavy ion radiotherapy; Functional imaging; DNA damage and repair; Motion management; 4D imaging and treatment strategies; Prostate cancer; Lung cancer

Current Projects

Agency: Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Subcontract From:
Dartmouth School of Medicine
Project Name
In Vivo biodosimetry using electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy

Agency: Yale Comprehensive Cancer Center (YCC)
Grant Name: Non-invasive imaging of tumor hypoxia in non-small cell lung cancer patients undergoing stereotactic body radiotherapy

Agency: American Cancer Society (ACS) Institutional Research Grant
Grant Name: Modeling relative biological effectiveness and oxygen effects in x-ray, proton, and carbon ion radiotherapy

Research Summary

The overall goal of my research is to develop more accurate radiobiological dose-response models that will advance biologically-guided radiation therapy (BGRT) for cancer patients. I hope to make scientific contributions to improve our basic understanding of the underlying physical and biological mechanisms that govern radiation response. Specifically, in my recent research, I have quantified the effects of the spatial pattern of energy deposition by different types of radiation on the relative biological effectiveness of x-rays, protons, and carbon ions in achieving local tumor control. I have also examined the combined effects of cellular oxygen concentration and spatial energy deposition on DNA damage formation and processing and cell death. I have a broad background in radiation physics and radiation biology. As a doctoral candidate at Purdue University, I conducted research on the mechanisms of intrinsic radiation sensitivity and examined the effects of DNA damage repair, oxygen, and radiation quality (particle LET) on biological endpoints such as double-strand break formation and cell killing. As a physics resident at Stanford University, I obtained a comprehensive understanding of the clinical application of radiation for the treatment of malignant and benign disease. I continued my research in radiobiological modeling to develop more realistic models of tumor hypoxia based on radial oxygen diffusion from tumor vasculature and the impact on radiation response. I am currently focused on (1) developing non-invasive functional imaging tools to quantify the spatial and temporal distributions of tumor hypoxia in early-stage non-small cell lung cancer and (2) implementing methods of biological optimization in heavy ion radiotherapy.

Selected Publications

  • Kelada OJ, Carlson DJ. Molecular imaging of tumor hypoxia with positron emission tomography. Radiat. Res. 181: 335-349 (2014).
  • Brown JM, Carlson DJ, Brenner DJ. The tumor radiobiology of SRS and SBRT: are more than the 5 R’s involved? Int. J. Radiat. Oncol. Biol. Phys. 88: 254–262 (2014).
  • Brenner DJ, Carlson DJ. Radiobiological Principles Underlying Stereotactic Radiation Therapy. In Principles and Practice of Stereotactic Radiosurgery, 2nd edition, eds. Chin LS and Regine WF, Springer, In Press (2013).
  • Abolfath RM, Carlson DJ, Chen ZC, Nath R. A molecular dynamics simulation of DNA damage induction by ionizing radiation. Phys. Med. Biol. 58: 7143–7157 (2013).
  • Brown JM, Brenner DJ, Carlson DJ. Dose escalation, not “new biology”, can account for the efficacy of stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) [editorial]. Int. J. Radiat. Oncol. Biol. Phys. 85: 1159-1160 (2013).
  • Carlson DJ, Chen ZJ, Ouhib Z, Hoskin P, Zaider M. Radiobiology for Brachytherapy. In Comprehensive Brachytherapy: Physical and Clinical Aspects, eds. Venselaar J, Soleimani-Meigooni A, Baltas D, Hoskin P, CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group, p. 253-270 (2013).
  • Frese MC, Yu VK, Stewart RD, Carlson DJ. A mechanism-based approach to predict the relative biological effectiveness (RBE) of protons and carbon ions in radiation therapy. Int. J. Radiat. Oncol. Biol. Phys. 83: 442-450 (2012).
  • Carlson DJ, Keall PJ, Loo BW, Chen ZJ, Brown JM. Hypofractionation results in reduced tumor cell kill compared to conventional fractionation for tumors with regions of hypoxia. Int. J. Radiat. Oncol. Biol. Phys. 79: 1188-1195 (2011).
  • Carlson DJ, Yenice KM, Orton CG. Point/Counterpoint: Tumor hypoxia is an important mechanism of radioresistance in hypofractionated radiotherapy and must be considered in the treatment planning process. Med. Phys. 38: 6347-6350 (2011).
  • Stewart RD, Yu VK, Georgakilas AG, Koumenis C, Park JH, Carlson DJ. Effects of Radiation Quality and Oxygen on Clustered DNA Lesions and Cell Death. Radiat. Res. 176: 587-602 (2011).


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