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Authors > W. Gillies McKenna, MD

W. Gillies McKenna, MD, PhD is head of the Department of Oncology at the University of Oxford and director of the university’s Gray Institute for Radiation Oncology and Biology which is jointly funded by Cancer Research UK, the Medical Research Council and the University of Oxford.  Dr. McKenna’s research links basic science studies with translational-clinical applications and is focused on effects of radiation on cancer cells and on mechanisms of resistance to radiation with the goal of sensitizing cells to radiation by blocking mechanisms that control cell survival. Specifically, Dr. McKenna is interested in oncogenically activated signal transduction pathways that exert a radioprotective effect on tumor cells. His group has shown that the EGFR-Ras-PI3K-PTEN-Akt pathway appears to the major radioprotective pathway active in most solid tumors and this pathway then presents targets that could be manipulated in a clinical setting to modify the radiation response. His clinical interests are the treatment of lung cancer, soft tissue sarcomas, skin cancer, head and neck cancer, and melanomas.

Dr. McKenna was a member of the Medical Scientist Training Program at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and received his MD and PhD in 1981. His PhD thesis research investigated the cleavage patterns of DNA by mammalian endonucleases. Following an internship at the Johns Hopkins University Hospital and a residency in Radiation Oncology at the National Cancer Institute, Dr. McKenna moved to the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine where he became chairman and Henry K. Pancoast Professor of Radiation Oncology. In 2005 he moved to his present position.

Dr. McKenna is the author of more than 90 research articles and 40 editorials, reviews, and chapters. He is co-author of Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology, 4th Edition. He is past president of the Radiation Research Society and a member of the Board of Scientific Advisors for the National Cancer Institute. He was the 2005 recipient of the Association for Radiation Research Weiss Medal and is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Royal College of Radiology.

Related Authors: James O. Armitage, MD; John E. Niederhuber, MD; Michael B. Kastan, MD, PhD