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David J. Carlson

Professor of Therapeutic Radiology; Vice Chair for Physics, Therapeutic Radiology; Director of Medical Physics, Therapeutic Radiology

Contact Information

David J. Carlson, PhD, DABR, FASTRO, FAAPM

Office Location

Mailing Address

  • Yale School of Medicine

    PO Box 208040

    New Haven, CT 06520-8040

    United States

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.

Specialized Terms: 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

Extensive Research Description

Current and Past Research Supported by:

Agency: National Institute of Health (NIH)
ID #: 1R21EB026553-01A1 (PI: Liu, W.)
Project: Tumor-targeted delivery and cell internalization of theranostic gadolinium nanoparticles for image-guided nanoparticle-enhanced radiation therapy
Role: Co-investigator

Agency: National Institute of Health (NIH)
ID #: 3UM1CA186689 (PI: LoRusso, P.)
Project: ViKTriY Early Clinical Trials Consortium
Role: Co-investigator

Agency: American Cancer Society (ACS)
ID #: 128352-RSG-15-197-01-TBG (PI: Bindra, R.)
Project: Pre-clinical development of Mibefradil as a novel glioma radiosensitizer
Role: Co-investigator

Agency: NIH/NIAID, The Dartmouth Physically-Based Biodosimetry Center for Medical Countermeasures Against Radiation (Dart-Dose CMCR) Pilot Program
ID #: Pilot grant from U19AI1091173 (Swartz, H.)
Grant Name: Comparing In Vivo biodosimetry with EPR to independent physical dosimetry methods
Role: PI

Agency: Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
ID #: Subcontract #HHSO100201100024C from Dartmouth College
Project Name
In Vivo biodosimetry using electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy
Role: PI

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
Role: PI

Agency: American Cancer Society (ACS)
ID #: IRG-58-012-52
Grant Name: Modeling relative biological effectiveness and oxygen effects in x-ray, proton, and carbon ion radiotherapy
Role: PI


Research Interests

Biophysics; DNA Damage; Lung Neoplasms; Physics; Prostatic Neoplasms; Cell Hypoxia; Radiation Oncology; Heavy Ion Radiotherapy

Selected Publications