New Investigator Spotlight: Shearwood ‘Woody’ McClelland III, MD
January 16, 2024
Shearwood ‘Woody’ McClelland III, MD is the Director of Spine Oncology in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center and Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology and Neurological Surgery at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Dr. McClelland’s work focuses on radiation-based modalities for treating central nervous system disease with an emphasis on investigating disparities in healthcare access. He led the first nationwide analysis of spine stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) utilization in the United States and has authored numerous published articles in peer-reviewed journals. Dr. McClelland is the Principal Investigator of an ongoing Phase II neuro-oncology randomized controlled trial, and his research (TheMcClellandLab.com) has been funded for a total of $1.4 million by several agencies including the National Institutes of Health, Susan G Komen, Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, American Society for Radiation Oncology, and Gilead Sciences.
Dr. McClelland is a four-time winner of the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Conquer Cancer Foundation Merit Award and a two-time winner of the Radiological Society of North America’s Trainee Research Prize in addition to several other awards such as the Young Oncologist Travel Award from the American Radium Society, the Young Investigator Award from the American Epilepsy Society, the Cone Pevehouse Award from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the International Epilepsy Symposium Research Award from the Cleveland Clinic, and the Wilbert C. Jordan Clinical Science Research Award from the Student National Medical Association. He is the creator of the pre-residency peer-reviewed publications (PRP) metric, which has been validated in both radiation oncology and neurosurgery as being associated with the subsequent resident choice of academic versus private practice career, and the Navigator-Assisted Hypofractionation (NAVAH) program designed to utilize patient navigation to reduce radiation therapy access disparities.
Q: What kind of research are you currently engaged with?
A: My research primarily involves treatment of cancer involving the spine and brain, as well as in augmenting diversity, equity and inclusion by tangibly improving access to cancer care regardless of cancer type or disease site origin.
Q: What is your proudest accomplishment so far regarding your research/career?
A: Of the 181 peer-reviewed manuscripts I have been blessed to have published, I am most proud of work that has improved the lives of patients and inspired others to further pursue increasing equitable access to care. Examples of such work include the four-part Disparities in Radiation Oncology series I led (published in Advances in Radiation Oncology; PMIDs 29204518, 29556572, 29904731, 30370344), and leading the first nationwide analysis of spine radiosurgery utilization in the United States (PMID 28864408). I am also very proud of my many mentees, several of whom have received national recognition for their work in my lab.
Q: What are you most interested in achieving through your research/career?
A: I am most interested in tangibly fostering equity in access to cancer-killing radiation therapy, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or socioeconomic status, and to improve the treatment of central nervous disease with radiation therapy.
Q: What inspired you to become involved in cancer research and/or specifically your field?
A: I was inspired to become involved in cancer research during my time in neurosurgery where I became certified in Gamma Knife stereotactic radiosurgery and was able to witness the efficacy of this noninvasive treatment in killing cancer. This led me to further pursue research in cancer.
Q: What has been your experience engaging in the Radiation Oncology community and with RTOGF?
A: My experience engaging in the Radiation Oncology community has been largely through the organizations I have been fortunate enough to be actively involved in on a national level, including NRG Oncology (as co-chair of the Health Disparities Rural Special Interest Group), American Radium Society, ASCO, ASTRO (as chair of the Early Career Committee Liaison Subcommittee), American College of Radiation Oncology, RSNA, the National Medical Association (as chair of the Radiology and Radiation Oncology Research Committee), and the American Medical Association. Radiation Oncology is a small field, with the best patients any physician could ask for. It is gratifying to be able to make such a tangible difference in the lives of patients with cancer.