About the Faught Lab

Proton therapy sits at the leading edge of innovative therapies for many forms of cancer. This treatment method allows doctors to precisely target cancer cells with high doses of radiation while minimizing the negative effects of radiation on healthy cells. The work in our lab focuses on the optimized use of proton therapy to protect the healthy cells of a child’s still-developing body during cancer treatment.

Lab team

Our research summary

While the overall objective of traditional radiation therapy and proton therapy is the same—to kill cancer cells—the approach and impact of these two treatment approaches are vastly different. Traditional radiation, delivered via x-rays, shoots through the tumor, affecting the tumor as well as healthy tissue and cells nearby, leading patients to experience an array of side effects. 

People looking at digital image of human brain

In contrast, the innovative field of proton therapy delivers proton particles directly to tumors and cancer cells where they stop. The result is increased sparing of nearby healthy cells. Minimizing the radiation dose to healthy cells is particularly important when treating children, who may be more sensitive to radiation and may experience late effects of their cancer treatment in adulthood. 

As a lab that focuses on medical physics, we explore the use of proton therapy in cancer treatment compared to the use of traditional forms of radiation. Our goal is to maximize the utility of protons in childhood cancer treatment. Driven by an interest in the energy deposition patterns of protons, our lab strives to leverage the unique characteristics of protons and proton therapy.

Scientist looking at computer screen

Our research centers on understanding dose tolerances in proton therapy and treatment planning strategies that better respect those tolerances. For example, through the use of traditional radiation over several decades, we understand the tolerable dose of x-rays to healthy tissue before a patient experiences significant side effects. Our work seeks to contribute knowledge around the dose tolerance of protons so we can mitigate the risk of potential side effects during treatment.

The work in our lab is uniquely positioned at the intersection of research and clinical care at St. Jude, where we house the world’s first proton therapy center dedicated to treating children. Our research team collaborates with a multidisciplinary team of physicians and specialists to explore how dose-response relationships may differ when using protons rather than x-rays. We work to characterize those relationships and develop guidelines for how to deliver protons safely and efficaciously as part of a patient’s treatment plan.

Our lab is also involved in research projects and clinical trials with St. Jude child life specialists and therapists to explore innovative ways to help children who receive traditional radiation treatments.

Publications

This is a brief highlight showing the publications on the page.

About Austin M. Faught

Dr. Austin Faught is an Assistant Member in the Department of Radiation Oncology at St. Jude. He received his PhD from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas; completed a medical physics residency at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina; and a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Colorado Denver-Anschutz Medical Campus in Denver, Colorado. As a researcher and medical physicist, Dr. Faught leads a research program that aims to better understand predictors of side effects and cure probabilities for patients using the wealth of follow-up data generated from clinical trials and open protocols at St. Jude.

The team

Contact us

Postal Address

Austin M. Faught, PhD
Assistant Member

Department of Radiation Oncology
MS 210, Room I3133
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

262 Danny Thomas Place
Memphis, TN, 38105-3678 USA

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262 Danny Thomas Place
Memphis, TN, 38105-3678 USA
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