Dr. Heather Himburg Nationally Recognized for Research Contributions in Radiation Oncology

The MCW Cancer Center’s Heather Himburg, PhD, associate professor of radiation oncology, has been selected to receive the J.W. Osborne Award from the Radiation Research Society (RRS). Named in memory of radiation scientist Dr. Bill Osborne, the award recognizes a member of the RRS who has made significant contributions to the understanding of normal tissue radiation responses. In recent years, the Himburg Lab has been instrumental in the development of medical countermeasures for acute radiation injury to the gastrointestinal (GI) and hematopoietic systems, and for delayed effects of acute radiation exposure to late-responding organ systems. Dr. Himburg will receive the prestigious award—and present her lab’s recent research—at the RRS Annual Meeting in Tucson, Arizona this September.

Heather Himburg"My lab is currently studying the role of the alternative renin angiotensin system enzyme ACE2 in radiation-induced GI injury. In a recent Radiation Research publication, co-first authored by Dr. Guru Prasad Sharma and Tracy Gasperetti, we found therapies that target ACE2 may improve GI recovery following irradiation. This kind of national recognition allows us to strengthen connections with experts in the field and can help push our work forward,” said Dr. Himburg.

Additionally, Dr. Himburg was recently approved as a new member of the Radiation Therapeutics and Biology Study Section (RTB) for 2024-2028. The RTB Study Section is a standing National Institutes of Health (NIH) review panel that reviews applications on therapeutic interactions of ionizing radiation at the molecular, cellular, organ, and patient levels; its members have the responsibility to gauge the scientific merit and potential impact of new applications. Dr. Himburg hopes these two achievements will shine a light on the outstanding research being done in her lab, and especially in the MCW Department of Radiation Oncology.

“I am very proud to be part of the MCW Rad-Onc program. Our team is supportive, collaborative, and dedicated to training the next generation of radiation oncologists, medical physicists, and radiation biologists. It’s truly a privilege to represent the program and our institution on a national level,” she said.

The momentum built by Dr. Himburg’s accomplishments is helping her team drive future research and make an ongoing impact for patients everywhere. Her lab recently secured NIH funding for a new U01 project that aims to understand potential biological sex differences in GI radiation response and treatment with ACE2 activators. The interdisciplinary project is being conducted in collaboration with Drs. Amit Joshi, William Hall, Eenas Omari, and Aniko Szabo.

Learn more about Dr. Himburg and view her recent publications.