Information about the division of Molecular Radiobiology and Targeted Imaging

Located in VCU’s Massey Cancer Center, the Division of Molecular Radiobiology and Targeted Imaging conducts research with real, tangible results that impact patients undergoing radiation therapy. 

We collaborate with our colleagues within the Department of Radiation Oncology and across other disciplines including medical oncology, obstetrics and gynecology, human and molecular genetics, neurosurgery and oral health.  


Information about the Division of Radiobiology's mission

The mission of this division is to conduct lab-based and clinical research that will advance the scientific knowledge of radiobiology and targeted imaging, enhance the therapeutic ratio of radiotherapy and mitigate damage to healthy tissue. Using state-of-the-art technology and methodology, we strive to make discoveries and implement clinical procedures that ultimately improve the lives of patients undergoing radiation treatment.  

Our Research

Division of Radiobiology and Targeted Imaging research

Division faculty, graduate students and postdocs engage in translational research studying cellular response to radiation, information transmission between cells and DNA repair. Research efforts also include the development of imaging techniques for enhanced targeting delivery of radiation. 

While researchers in the division work primarily in laboratories, the goal is for clinical application to benefit patients receiving radiation treatment. For example, an ongoing endeavor to establish and expand a blood and tissue bank, with samples collected from consenting patients before, during and after radiation therapy, allows researchers to identify and examine molecular biomarkers of disease and responses to therapy.  

Other areas of research within the division include:  

  • Targeting ATM kinase and the DNA damage response for brain cancer therapy 
  • Nanoparticle drug delivery, immune checkpoint inhibition for glioma therapy and the development of a novel glioma tumor model 
  • ATM protein phosphatase 2A regulation in the DMA damage response and neurodegeneration 
  • Impact of inflammatory microenvironment and how it affects homologous recombination repair 
  • Tumor vascular normalization to increase tumor blood flow for radiosensitization and chemosensitization
  • Mitigation of normal tissue toxicity by improving endothelial cell/vascular function
  • Using human blood and plasma samples to identify toxicity prediction factors in future therapy targets, modify and prevent side effects of therapy 
  • Studying microRNA differences in human blood samples to identify prediction factors of tumor recurrence
  • Studying the roles of tumor-derived exosomes in modulating tumor radiosensitivity and the immune response

National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants, funding from private research foundations and support from the industry fund the division’s myriad research projects.


Division of Molecular Radiobiology and Targeted Imaging contacts

Ross B. Mikkelsen, Ph.D.   
Division Chair, Molecular Radiobiology and Targeted Imaging   
Vice Chair, Research   

Christopher S. Rabender, Ph.D.   
Research Scientist     

Kristoffer Valerie, Ph.D.   

Vasily A. Yakovlev, M.D., Ph.D.   
Assistant Professor