Hallahan to head radiation oncology department

Dennis E. Hallahan, M.D., has been chosen to head the Department of Radiation Oncology at the School of Medicine.


Hallahan will be named the first Elizabeth H. and James S. McDonnell III Distinguished Professor in Medicine and will serve on the senior leadership committee of the Siteman Cancer Center.

The appointment was announced by Larry J. Shapiro, M.D., executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, and was effective May 1.

“Dennis Hallahan is highly regarded for his expertise and innovative research on improving the safety and effectiveness of radiation for cancer treatment, and we are very fortunate to be able to welcome this top-notch scientist, physician and administrator to the University,” Shapiro said. “I am confident that under his leadership, the Department of Radiation Oncology will continue as a source of the best possible patient care, superb training and education, groundbreaking scientific investigation and translation of new discoveries into meaningful clinical advances.”

Hallahan comes to the University from Vanderbilt University, where he was the Ingram Professor of Cancer Research and chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology.

Hallahan will occupy a newly endowed chair named for James S. McDonnell III and his wife, Elizabeth. McDonnell was a director of McDonnell Douglas Corp. until its merger with the Boeing Co. in 1997. McDonnell was a vice president of the corporation from 1973 until his retirement in January 1991.

As head of the Department of Radiation Oncology, Hallahan succeeds interim head Jeff M. Michalski, M.D., who has held the position since April 2008.

The radiation oncology department, one of the largest in the country, is recognized as a national leader in the development and clinical implementation of major technical breakthroughs in radiation treatments for cancer patients. Recently, the department expanded its cancer biology, medical physics and clinical divisions and created a new division in bioinformatics and outcomes research.

Hallahan earned a medical degree from Rush University in Chicago in 1984. He completed a residency and internship in internal medicine at the University of Chicago, where he also completed a residency in radiation oncology and a post-doctoral research project in radiation and cellular oncology.

In 1990, Hallahan joined the faculty of the Cancer Center at the University of Chicago. In 1998, he moved to Vanderbilt University as head of the radiation oncology department. He was a radiation oncologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville Veterans Administration Hospital, Nash-ville General Hospital and other Nashville-area medical facilities.

Hallahan conducts research to identify new molecular targets for cancer therapy and to develop drugs that improve cancer response to radiation therapy while minimizing the effect on normal tissues.