Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and College of Medicine name new radiation oncology chair

Dr. Rodney Ellis has been named chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine. Ellis will assume the role on July 1.

Currently, Ellis serves as vice chair for strategic affairs and director of genitourinary oncology, brachytherapy and advanced image guided radiology in the Department of Radiation Oncology at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center. The department is part of Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Case has the highest designation – Comprehensive Cancer Center – by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for its leadership in studying and treating cancer.

“We believe Dr. Ellis’s experience as a leader in cancer care, research and education makes him the ideal individual to lead this new department,” said Dr. A. Craig Hillemeier, dean of the College of Medicine, CEO of Penn State Heath and senior vice president for health affairs at Penn State. “Our decision to elevate radiation oncology to its own academic department will further empower transformational change across Penn State Cancer Institute, which is well advanced on the path to achieving NCI Cancer Center designation.”

Dr. Ellis is a noted researcher with interest in molecular imaging for prostate cancer and radiation planning for advanced image guided radiation applications. He has published over 70 peer-reviewed articles, and been the principal investigator for a number of clinical trials.

“Dr. Ellis adds to the numbers of exceptional scientists and clinicians at Penn State,” said Dr. Raymond Hohl, director of Penn State Cancer Institute. “Having Dr. Ellis at the helm will enhance our ability to attract high-caliber investigators and expand our National Institutes of Health Funding portfolio, which is vital to turning promising laboratory discoveries into new treatments, vaccines and even cures.”

The new Department of Radiation Oncology is developing a residency program, as well as training programs in medical physics, which will increase the number of health professionals to care for our own patients while addressing the shortage of these kind of experts across the nation.

Penn State Health and Penn State College of Medicine have a rich history in cancer research. Work decades ago contributed to the development of the world’s first cervical cancer vaccine, and today’s scientists and clinical researchers at Penn State Cancer Institute, including those in its Jake Gittlen Laboratories for Cancer Research, Four Diamonds Pediatric Cancer Research Center and the Melanoma and Skin Cancer Center are leading the way to better prevention and treatment of many types of adult and pediatric cancers. Last summer, the Cancer Institute, located within the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, became the first and only hospital in central Pennsylvania to offer CAR-T therapy, an innovative and lifesaving treatment for adult patients with lymphoma who have exhausted other options.

Dr. Rickhesvar Mahraj served as interim chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology since its inception in July 2018.

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