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Collaborative Research Effort with U.S. Military

Collaborative Research Effort with the United States Military

Penn has established a new relationship with Walter Reed Army Medical Center, through which proton therapy technology will be available to treat United States military personnel and veterans.

This collaborative effort is highly relevant to the United States military in that it will provide a portal through which all active duty troops and health care beneficiaries will have direct access to the most advanced radiation therapy treatments in the world. Until now this treatment has only been available to a very limited number.

This relationship was formed when Congress appropriated $32 million (after Department of Defense overhead) to develop technology for proton therapy. Ten percent of that money will go to Walter Reed for its portion of the research and development and the remainder will go to the Roberts Proton Therapy Center. Development projects stemming from this relationship will include designing a multileaf collimator for proton therapy, development of the scanning technique to deliver the radiation, and applying the recent advances in imaging to targeting the cancer and localization of the patient.

In addition to the potential this technology has in reducing permanent and devastating complications of cancer treatment, it also affords the possibility of increased rates of curing cancer locally. This will also be most beneficial to the military, as it will allow the opportunity for military physicians and physicists to gain experience with one of the most promising technologies for curing cancers locally. The knowledge and experience gained through this treatment will bring closer the day when those afflicted with cancer can be cured without excessive morbidity and it will propel the military to the forefront of cancer research in the United States.

Groundbreaking Cancer Research
This proposed research will propel the U.S. military to the forefront of groundbreaking cancer research. The experience gained in conducting this research will be of tremendous value to the military as Active Duty Radiation Oncologists will obtain unique skills that a mere handful of physicians currently possess.

This will firmly position U.S. military physicians and scientists far ahead of their peers in the delivery of non-invasive, minimally damaging, curative cancer therapy. Clearly the greatest direct benefit of this experience will be derived by the military beneficiaries and family members who will receive proton radiotherapy with the dose conformality that will only be possible using an MLC.

This research presents a truly extraordinary opportunity for the U.S. military that must be seized. This and future collaborative research efforts will establish a formal conduit for military healthcare beneficiaries to receive proton radiotherapy through a previous agreement between the University of Pennsylvania and Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

The Joint Military Civilian Proton Radiotherapy Center established to provide oversight and management for this proposal will be transformed into a center for all military health care beneficiaries diagnosed with cancer through which they can receive proton radiotherapy, with the expected benefits of dramatically reduced chances of normal organ damage and increased probability of tumor cure.

Patients will receive a course of proton radiotherapy which will be simulated, planned, and prescribed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and delivered at the University of Pennsylvania. This ability to prescribe a course of proton radiotherapy is not currently available at any military treatment facility nor will it be in the foreseeable future unless this collaborative effort advances forward.


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