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Message from the President

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Deborah A. Kuban, MD, FASTRO

Radiation therapy saves and improves the lives of millions of cancer patients each year, but not all who could benefit from this crucial treatment receive it. The Radiation Oncology Institute (ROI), ASTRO’s Research Foundation, is working to heighten the critical role of radiation therapy in the treatment of cancer through research and education to change the status quo and ensure more patients have the opportunity of this life-saving technology.

With the support of generous donors like you, the ROI has funded $3.4 million in research to help radiation oncology be a leader in the movement toward more patient-centered, quality cancer care. Together, we are awarding grants to some of the best and brightest researchers who are seeking to improve outcomes for our patients by providing practical solutions for radiation oncology’s most pressing challenges. 

For example, the ROI recognized an urgent need to address disparities in patient care and to develop a more diverse radiation oncology workforce when we released the Improving Diversity and Inclusion in Radiation Oncology request for proposals in the fall of 2019. The four grants that the ROI awarded in 2020 took on additional importance and significance as they coincided with the events of the year that brought attention to the inequity and injustice present in our society and health care practice. With your help four teams are:

  • Developing a web-based tool that will objectively assess acute skin toxicity across a wide range of skin tones.
  • Establishing a program to increase interest in radiation oncology among medical students from underrepresented minorities.
  • Evaluating radiation therapy delivery and developing an integrated value-based model for cancer care in the federal prison system.
  • Assessing training needs for health care providers caring for patients in the LGBTQ+ community to develop an educational framework.

These grants allow for innovative collaborations across disciplines that are necessary to solve the complex problems that they seek to address, and the ROI is uniquely positioned to provide such support. I invite you to learn more about all the talented ROI investigators who are working to advance our field through practical, patient-centered research. Their results include clinical discussion guides that use graphic narrative to help patients better understand what to expect during treatment of breast, lung, and prostate cancer and the RadOnc Toolbox app, a point-of-care resource designed to promote evidence-based practice that is used by hundreds of clinicians daily. Both are free and available online to radiation oncology professionals worldwide thanks to donors like you.

The Radiation Oncology Institute might also be associated with a more common definition for the acronym ROI, “return on investment.” Since its founding by the ASTRO Board of Directors fifteen years ago, the Radiation Oncology Institute has grown from an idea, to a successful campaign to establish an endowment, and now to a thriving foundation, which provides our supporters with a demonstrable return on their investment. Our investigators have secured more than $2.5 million in follow-on funding for research directly related to their ROI-funded work, and this total will surely grow in the years to come. 

We are grateful to all the individuals, corporations, private practice groups and academic institutions whose generous donations have made this progress possible. Your continued investment is essential to ensuring the success and growth of our practice-changing research and educational programs.

Please explore our website to learn more about how the ROI is forging a path for the future of radiation oncology and how you can be a part of this endeavor