Meet The Thoracic Team

Team Co-Leaders

Basic Science Clinical
Chandra Belani, M.D. Henry Wagner, M.D.
Chandra Belani, M.D.
Miriam Becker Professor of Medicine,
Penn State College of Medicine
Deputy Director,
Penn State Cancer Institute

Henry Wagner, M.D.



Management of patients with thoracic malignancies such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, thymoma, and esophageal cancer has long been recognized as requiring the efforts of multiple diagnostic and therapeutic specialties. At Hershey Medical Center patients with these malignancies have been presented and discussed at a multidisciplinary case management conference meeting weekly for more than five years. Over the past two years, as the Penn State Cancer Institute has developed a more formal model of both clinical disease programs and basis science cores, we have increasingly focused of developing our clinical research program and translational links with basic science programs involving both diagnosis and management of patients with thoracic malignancies.

Our areas of active research interest cover thoracic oncology from the time of evaluation and diagnosis of individuals with newly discovered lung lesions through evaluation and treatment of patients with localized and locally advanced disease being treated with curative intent, to management of patients with metastatic disease. Dr. Belani's arrival has vitalized a strong program of the development and evaluation of new agents, particularly molecularly targeted compounds, in phase I and II trials.

Other active research interests include:

  • Development of computer-aided virtual bronchoscopy techniques to facilitate diagnostic biopsy of newly detected lung lesions, particularly those found on screening CT studies.
  • Evaluation in vitro and in vivo of the interaction of newly developed molecularly targeted compounds with ionizing radiation with a goal of developing more selective clinical radiosensitizers.
  • Evaluation of the impacts of therapies for lung cancer on the quality of life of patients and caregivers.
  • Prediction, detection, and treatment of brain metastases in patients with lung cancer. As metastatic lung cancer is the most common intracranial malignancy we are collaborating closely with members of the Neuro-Oncology program in this effort.
  • Evaluation of the multiple interactions of genetic and environmental factors in the development of lung cancer in residents of central Pennsylvania.

While our primary focus is on the development and completion of local investigator-initiated trials, several members of the Thoracic Oncology program also have held leadership positions (administratively and as study PI) in a number of National Cooperative Groups including the ECOG, RTOG, and NCCTG and work to bring continuity vision and clinical research implementation from the level of institutional phase I-II trials through national and international Phase III studies.