Laura Dawson Chosen as ASTRO President-Elect

July 26, 2019
Dylann Cohn-Emery

Laura Dawson, MD, FRCPC, FASTRO, has been selected as the president-elect of the American Society for Radiation Oncology and will begin her term at the society’s 61st Annual Meeting, which is being held in Chicago, Illinois on September 15-18.

Laura Dawson, MD, FRCPC, FASTRO

Laura Dawson, MD, FRCPC, FASTRO, has been selected as the president-elect of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) and will begin her term at the society’s 61st Annual Meeting, which is being held in Chicago, Illinois on September 15-18.

“I am honored to be elected as ASTRO’s president-elect. Radiation oncology is a highly effective intervention that most [patients with] cancer benefit from at some point during the course of their disease,” Dawson said in a statement. “Unfortunately, not all patients have access to radiation therapy, and there is a need for improved public awareness about its benefits.”

Dawson specializes in radiation oncology and gastrointestinal (GI) cancers. Currently, she leads a multidisciplinary group of cancer specialists in upper GI cancers at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto and works as a professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Toronto. She directs a radiation oncology program with a focus on palliative care and has led multiple phase I, II, and III trials. These include trials looking at the use of personalized stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) for patients with liver cancer, who previously were not typically candidates for radiation therapy.

During her year as president-elect, followed by a single-year term as president, then one more as chair of the ASTRO board, Dawson plans to concentrate on issues in radiation oncology and medicine overall. These will include physician burnout, workforce diversity, and restrictive prior authorization practices that delay patients’ access to cancer treatments.

Previously, Dawson was ASTRO’s chair of the Education Council while on the board of directors. She also recently chaired the steering committee of the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, which was co-sponsored by ASTRO. She participated in NRG’s GI steering and translational research committees, and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Institute of Health hepatobiliary task force for over a decade.

After publishing over 180 papers and receiving numerous awards, she has become an internationally recognized leader in GI cancers and radiation therapy.

Along with Dawson, 3 others were elected to ASTRO’s board of directors, also starting in September. Neha Vapiwala, MD, will join the board as the new secretary/treasurer-elect. She works at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania as an associate professor and vice-chair of education in the Department of Radiation Oncology and as dean of admissions. Vapiwala also serves on the NCI’s Prostate Cancer Task Force and is considered an expert in genitourinary cancers. During her 1-year term as secretary/treasurer-elect followed by 3 years as secretary/treasurer, Vapiwala will be focused on challenges in health care economics.

Constantine Mantz, MD, will be the new Health Policy Council vice-chair for a 2-year term and works as the chief policy officer and a radiation oncologist at 21st Century Oncology in Fort Meyers, Florida.