Pioneer in kidney cancer radiation and long-term KCP collaborator named new chair of radiation oncology

March 21, 2022
Robert Timmerman, M.D., named Chair of UTSW Department of Radiation Oncology
Robert Timmerman, M.D. Chair, Department of Radiation Oncology

Robert D. Timmerman, M.D., has been named the new Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology.

An expert in diseases of the central nervous system, including cancer of the brain and spine, as well as lung cancer, Dr. Timmerman has championed the use of precise, noninvasive radiosurgical tools to deliver radiation. He is credited for leading the development of  stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SAbR),  also called stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), which uses sophisticated image guidance and tracking to improve radiation therapy. This seminal contribution is widely regarded to have transformed the field of radiation oncology.

Dr. Timmerman has spearheaded new applications of radiation therapy for kidney cancer, most notably the first report for SAbR for inferior vena cava (IVC) tumor thrombus.

Beyond the conventional uses for bone and brain metastases in the Kidney Cancer Program (KCP), SAbR is being investigated for the treatment of small renal masses; tumor thrombi ˗  regionally advanced tumors that have grown into the IVC; oligommtastases, oligoprogression,  and in combination with immunotherapies. Most recently, radiation oncology efforts have centered around PULSAR, a strategy that seeks to maximize the immunological effects of radiation therapy.

Dr. Timmerman joined UT Southwestern in 2004 as Professor and Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs in the Department of Radiation Oncology and Director of the Annette Simmons Stereotactic Treatment Center. He also served as Director of Clinical Research since 2014.

He graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering and from the University of Tennessee with a master’s degree in reactor physics. After finishing medical school at the University of South Dakota, he completed a residency in Radiation Oncology at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

He is a Fellow of both the American Society for Radiation Oncology and the American College of Radiology. In 2019, Dr. Timmerman received the Patricia and William L. Watson Jr., M.D. Award for Excellence in Clinical Medicine.