RTOG Foundation New Investigator Spotlight Dr. Joseph Miccio
March 02, 2023
Joseph A. Miccio, MD, was recently selected as an RTOG Foundation New Investigator Spotlight due to his various accomplishments and ongoing efforts in the oncology community. Dr. Miccio is an Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology and the Director of Genitourinary Radiation Oncology at Penn State Hershey Medical Center. He specializes in the management of thoracic and genitourinary malignancies and has opened two single institution prospective studies during his residency including a single arm phase II study of stereotactic body radiation therapy for oligoprogression on immune checkpoint inhibitors in metastatic renal cell carcinoma and a prospective study of patient-reported quality of life after stereotactic radiosurgery or whole brain radiation therapy for patients with small cell lung cancer receiving immunotherapy. Additionally, Dr. Miccio serves on the NRG Oncology Lung Cancer General Committee, is a member of the Radiological Society of North America, the American Society for Radiation Oncology, and the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society.
Q: What kind of research are you currently engaged with?
A: I'm currently engaged with several research projects through RTOG/NRG and otherwise. I am actively working on a secondary analysis of RTOG 0617 to evaluate for surrogate endpoints for overall survival and I hope to conduct an ancillary project comparing outcomes between patients treated in RTOG 1106 and RTOG 0617. I am also actively involved with our new MRI-guided radiation program and we are working on opening trials here for MRI guided SBRT central lung tumors and possibly hypofractionated radiotherapy with novel systemic agents for locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer.
Q: What is your proudest accomplishment so far regarding your research/career?
A: This is a really tough question. When I think of my research career thus far, there is no one accomplishment that I am particularly proud of. I think that there is much work to be done to improve outcomes for patients with lung cancer – maybe if I involved with a project that really pushes the needle and improves survival or quality of life, I will feel that proud moment. However, when I take a step back and look at my life, I am extremely proud that my work is dedicated to treating patients with cancer and contributing to projects that may improve their lives.
Q: What are you most interested in achieving through your research/career?
A: In my own career, I hope to contribute to the next generation of trials for patients with lung cancer. Immunotherapy has changed the landscape of lung cancer management but there is still much work to be done to improve outcomes for patients with virtually all stages of lung cancer. Additionally, the duration of the radiation regimens for locally advanced lung cancer are quite dauting on patients and their families – I hope to also contribute to studies that may reduce treatment duration for this patient population.
Q: What inspired you to become involved in cancer research and/or specifically your field?
A: As I suspect may be the case for multiple oncologists, I was driven to the field of oncology by learning from my own family's experience with cancer. When I was in college, my paternal grandmother passed away from metastatic colorectal cancer, during residency my maternal grandmother passed away from metastatic renal cell carcinoma, and now as an attending my uncle is battling extensive stage small cell lung cancer. What I have learned from these experiences is that it is amazing how quickly priorities in life change for both the patient and their family when facing a life-threatening illness. The diagnosis and treatment of cancer is one the most stressful times for patients and their families and it is critical to have access to the best and most compassionate care. I’m fortunate to have a career where I can help guide patients and their families to the best care possible and contribute to research that may improve that standard of care.
Q: What has been your experience engaging in the Radiation Oncology community and with RTOGF?
A: My experiences with the radiation oncology community and the RTOG Foundation have been overwhelmingly positive. Throughout medical school and residency training it was easy to feel a sense of impostor syndrome when engaging with the incredibly intelligent research leaders who help to shape our practice changing studies. I can happily say that I am routinely impressed by how approachable and thoughtful other radiation oncologists are within the RTOGF. Radiation Oncology trialists are generally extremely friendly people that are willing to hear new ideas and educate students, residents, and junior faculty.