Nancy P. Mendenhall, M.D., has been named the 2018 Clinical Science Researcher of the Year by the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville. The recognition comes, in part, for her recent research success in securing an $11.9 million grant for a national prostate cancer study comparing proton therapy to standard radiation treatment.
Each year, the college presents the award to a faculty member for outstanding achievement, productivity and research discovery. Mendenhall is a professor and associate chair of the UF department of radiation oncology. As the medical director of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute in Jacksonville, she leads the clinical care and research program for the advanced form of radiation treatment – proton therapy. The Clinical Science Research Award is given for research having a close connection with clinical medicine that has a significant impact on the delivery of patient care.
Funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, the prostate cancer study will enroll 3,000 patients at 42 treatment centers across the United States; half will be treated with standard radiation therapy and half will be treated with proton therapy. The study will collect information for five years on patient-reported quality of life, physician-reported and patient-reported side effects and prostate cancer recurrence. Some participants receiving proton therapy will have the option to be randomly assigned to receive eight weeks of treatment at a lower intensity or four weeks at a higher intensity, to determine which regimen has a greater impact on cure rates and side effects.
Prostate cancer is the most common nonskin-cancer afflicting men in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. It is estimated that 160,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed each year.
Since opening in 2006 under Mendenhall’s leadership, the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute has conducted dozens of clinical trials to treat more than 20 types of cancer. She and her team of clinical researchers have published over 150 articles in medical journals that report on the patient outcomes, treatment techniques and efficacy of proton therapy. She was instrumental in the development and launch of the first peer-reviewed medical journal dedicated to basic and clinical research in particle therapy – The International Journal of Particle Therapy. It is the official journal of the Particle Therapy Cooperative Group, an international organization for those interested in proton, light ion and heavy charged particle radiotherapy.