Aug 03

Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) Bioinformatics

Word Cloud for Ying Xiao imaging presentationThe NCI-supported Cooperative Groups conduct national- and international-scale multicenter clinical trials.  They face escalating computational challenges as the amount of clinical trials data generated by a multiplicity of research technologies and clinical observations continues to expand. As part of our ongoing Speaker Series, we recently invited Dr. Ying Xiao to discuss informatics initiatives being undertaken by the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) so that we could better understand the scope of these challenges.   Dr. Xiao is the core laboratory physicist of RTOG and chairs the RTOG bioinformatics group.


A primary goal of the RTOG bioinformatics group is to collaboratively develop personalized, evidence-based predictive models for guiding radiation therapy in order to achieve better outcomes—both longer survival and improved quality of life—for cancer patients.  Developing an evidence base to guide radiation-therapy decisions requires the accumulation, aggregation, integration, and standardized analysis of disparate data types and the construction of integrated clinical trial databases that bridge clinical science, physics, biology, information technology, and mathematics.  Imaging data, which are typically more voluminous than other data types, are of central importance in radiation oncology: Imaging is vital to diagnosis, treatment guidance, and evaluation of treatment response and imaging enhancements can discern tumor biomarkers and pathology.

Dr. Xiao described in detail several collaborative clinical trial initiatives in which RTOG is participating that exemplify the essential role that data accumulation, integration, and analysis play in clinical research.  These include


  • Computer-assisted Theragnostics (CAT), a collaboration with the Netherlands-based MAASTRO radiotherapy institute and the CAT network
  • Multicenter Clinical Studies in Particle Therapy,  a collaboration with the Union of Light Ions Centers in Europe (ULICE) research network
  • Evidence-based Radiation Therapy Quality Assurance for Image-guided Radiotherapy (IGRT),  a joint RTOG-Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP) study
  • Evidence-based Radiation Therapy Quality Assurance for Intensity-modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT) Planning, a collaboration with Duke University

Future directions for RTOG include working closely with the NCI Cancer Imaging Program, the Quantitative Imaging Network, and the National Cancer Informatics Program (NCIP) Clinical Imaging Workspace to (1) develop an integrated informatics infrastructure to support data sharing and integration among the reorganized NCI Cooperative Groups, and (2) define a uniform data and quality-assurance information flow.


To view Dr. Xiao’s slide presentation, visit   

To view a video of her discussion, visit our Youtube playlist.

To learn more about RTOG, visit

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