Meet Dr. Kenneth Westover

Ken Westover, M.D., Ph.D., is both a member of the lung cancer team and director of a research laboratory dedicated to cancer biology and the development of new therapeutic drugs.

I look at cancer from its molecular basis to the physics of radiation treatment.”

His arrival at UT Southwestern in 2012 was made possible by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, a state agency that has been tasked, among other goals, with recruiting top cancer researchers to Texas. Dr. Westover was recruited from the Harvard Radiation Oncology Program, where he distinguished himself in residency as a scientist as well as a radiation oncologist.

Dr. Westover’s work has been published in numerous clinical and high-profile basic science journals, and he has also authored several book chapters relating to radiation therapy. His scientific work in graduate school shed light on the way genes are transcribed and was cited in the 2006 Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded to his mentor Roger Kornberg, Ph.D.

“My primary objective is to improve cancer care through multidisciplinary innovation, particularly through efforts to understand and manipulate fundamental aspects of biology,” says Dr. Westover. “I believe this approach will be critical to achieve the delivery of personalized medicine to our patients.”

Dr. Westover is particularly interested in using stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) – also known as stereotactic ablative radiation therapy (SABR) – to treat cancer patients, an approach that was pioneered by another member of UT Southwestern’s radiation oncology team, Robert Timmerman, M.D. This stronger, “ablative” dose of radiation precisely targets and destroys tumors in just a few treatments. In the lab, Dr. Westover is currently studying the underlying biology of ablative radiation with the goal of enhancing the potency of this treatment by adding targeted drugs. While at Harvard he was the first to publish clinical results showing that protons can be used to deliver effective SBRT for early-stage lung cancer in patients with poor pulmonary function.  

Clinical Specialties/Interests

Radiation Therapy

  • Lung cancer
  • Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT)