The UCLA Radiation Biology Program has a long and distinguished history of research and education. Dr. Rodney Withers founded the Division of Molecular and Cellular Oncology (DMCO) in 1980, 5 years after the creation of the UCLA Department of Radiation Oncology. After serving as Head for 13 years, Dr. William McBride assumed the position in 1994 and led the DMCO for 21 years. The DMCO welcomed its new Head, Dr. Joanne Weidhaas, in January 2015. The DMCO is located primarily in the Roy E. Coats Research Laboratories within the Center for Health Sciences building.
The goal of the DMCO is to develop novel approaches to purposefully modify the response of tumors and normal tissues to clinically relevant doses of radiation. One concept that was developed within the Division is that radiation imposes molecular "signatures" on cells and tissues that are a response to a "sense of danger." Such responses, in concert with existing molecular pathways promote intracellular and intercellular communication leading to the multiple consequences of radiation exposure. These pathways define intrinsic cellular radiosensitivity and can be modulated rationally to improve the therapeutic benefit to be derived from clinical radiation therapy.