David Marshall, M.D., has been with MUSC for 15 years but recently stepped into a new role as the chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology. As part of the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, this department serves patients throughout the Southeast by providing evidence-based care and treatment recommendations from a multidisciplinary team.
As a board-certified radiation oncologist specializing in genitourinary and gastrointestinal cancers, Marshall has brought innovative treatment options, such as Y-90 microsphere therapy and radiosurgical treatment for liver cancers, to patients at MUSC. He has also developed new techniques for linked and stranded seeds for prostate brachytherapy, and he wants to improve the accuracy of radiotherapy by using new immobilization and image-guided techniques.
Marshall also has leadership experience both at MUSC and on several national committees. He has served as the director of the Radiation Oncology Residency Training Program at MUSC as well as the deputy associate director for clinical investigations and the medical director of the clinical trials office at the Hollings Cancer Center. He has been a member of the National Association for Directors of Radiation Oncology Programs since 2005 and previously served as both the president and vice president of the same organization.
You joined the MUSC team almost 15 years ago. What brought you here?
After I finished medical school at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, I moved to Gainesville to complete my residency at the University of Florida. My first two jobs after residency were in New Jersey and New York. At the time that I interviewed at MUSC, my wife and I were living in metro New York City and on vacation here, visiting my sister-in-law and her husband, who were residents at MUSC. It seemed like such a nice place to live, and the opportunity at MUSC seemed like a good fit, so we moved on down to Charleston and have been here ever since.
What first interested you in radiation and oncology?
I was actually an engineer before I got into medicine, and radiation and oncology seemed like the perfect blend of those two fields to me. I was working towards my master’s degree in nuclear engineering sciences-health physics at the University of Florida when I was first introduced to the field of radiation oncology. The physicists who trained in my department also trained physicists from radiation oncology departments, so I was exposed to them early. And then when I decided to go to medical school, it was just a natural fit. Where most people have very little — if any — exposure to radiation oncology before medical school and training, I had it in mind the whole time.
What is something you’re looking forward to in your position?
I am excited about growing the research efforts in our department. This is such an incredible opportunity to bring more resources to our team and expand our ability to treat people and support our research endeavors. Dr. Jenrette [Joseph Jenrette, M.D., former chair of the MUSC Department of Radiation Oncology] left a highly functional, very productive department to begin with, and it’s a real privilege to be able to take that over. I’m looking forward to expanding on that legacy.
What makes MUSC Hollings Cancer Center special?
As a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, Hollings is recognized for both its lab and clinical research and its biomedical and health care training and edu- cation, which is great. At Hollings, we want to give the best evidence-based care that we can since many of our patients are faced with difficult decisions about their treatment — be that undergoing surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy. I think having a multidisciplinary team like ours helps patients under- stand their options and helps them make a decision they are comfortable with.
What are some upcoming opportunities for this department?
As MUSC is currently going through an expansion phase, the department of radiation oncology benefits as well. We have the opportunity to grow both our practice and our influence throughout the state, which will enable us to help a greater number of patients.
How have your past experiences prepared you for your new position as chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology?
I’ve worked for a number of different chairs — most of them outstanding — at a few different institutions in my time, so I’ve seen how they work. I think watching those other leaders, including the former chair of this department, Dr. Jenrette, do their job well has provided me with a lot of insight in addition to my tenure here at MUSC.