Room 102
Olin Engineering Building



«Physics Faculty List

Vahagn Nazaryan

Position: Medical Physics Research Supervisor

Educational Background: M.S., Yerevan State University, Armenia
Ph.D., The College of William and Mary (2004)

Research Interests:

Proton Radiotherapy (Visit the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute Website)

Cancer treatment utilizing proton radiotherapy is expanding swiftly, and the near future state-of-the-art implementations will involve both complex conformal treatment plans and dose escalation. It is crucial for proton therapy to see continuous improvement in tumorcidal effect and concurrent decreased side effects as advanced techniques from conventional radiotherapy are increasingly incorporated. However, the current state of knowledge of the biological efficiency of proton beams may be inadequate to facilitate anticipated developments such as image-guidance, intensity modulation, or respiration gating.

The ultimate objective of our research is to facilitate the expected benefits of increasingly conformal treatment capabilities, as well as to prevent harm from the anticipated near-term technological improvements in proton radiotherapy, by fully characterizing the radiobiological effects of therapeutic proton beams and by providing vastly improved cell-killing models for treatment planning algorithms.


About 130,000 women are candidates for breast conserving therapy (BCT) in the U.S. annually. Current clinical guidelines define the standard of care for BCT as breast conserving surgery (BCS) followed by radiotherapy. It has been demonstrated in clinical trials that the local recurrence rates are significantly higher when BCS is not followed by radiotherapy.

Until the mid 1990’s the only available BCT was lumpectomy, followed by external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) delivered to the whole breast in daily doses for 5-7 weeks. The combination of lumpectomy and EBRT has proven to be effective in preventing local recurrence of tumor. Despite BCT’s success in fighting cancer, issues associated with scheduling 5-7 weeks of EBRT have prevented many from taking advantage of BCT. In rural and underserved areas of the country as few as 10% of medically eligible patients receive BCT.

Recently, methods for accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI) have been developed. These allow patients to complete radiation treatment in 5 days. Our research efforts are directed towards technology development for intracavitary brachytherapy (IB), which is a new method for APBI, gaining widespread popularity for its simplicity, brevity, and reduction of morbidity traditionally associated with WBRT. Successful implementation of the proposed technology will make this excellent new procedure available to a larger population of women, as well as cosmetically more favorable to all. The improved access to APBI and therefore also to BCT will indisputably reduce breast tumor recurrence and hence also the mortality associated with it.

Other interests include research in Theoretical Physics, specifically

  • non-commutative field theory;
  • proton structure;
  • exotic multi-quark states.

Patent Applications:

  • “Proton Beam Therapy With Adequate Relative Biological Effectiveness,” U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/768,402, filed March 28, 2006.
  • “Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation With Shielded MammoSite Applicator and Method of Use,” U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/849,020, filed October 4, 2006

Selected Publications:

  • Longitudinal-transverse separations of structure functions at low Q**2 for hydrogen and deuterium (by V. Tvaskis et al.) Physical Review Letters, Volume 98, 142301, 2007
  • Vahagn Nazaryan, Carl E. Carlson, Keith A. Griffioen, “New experimental constraints on polarizability corrections to hydrogen hyperfine structure”; Physical Review Letters, Volume 96, Number 16, 163001, hep-ph/0512108.
  • Vahagn Nazaryan and Carl E. Carlson, “Field Theory in Noncommutative Minkowski Superspace”, Phys. Rev. D71:025019, 2005; hep-th/0410056
  • Carl E. Carlson, Christopher D. Carone, Herry J. Kwee, Vahagn Nazaryan, “A Naturally Narrow Positive Parity Θ+ ”, Phys. Rev. D70:037501, 2004; hep-ph/0312325
  • Carl E. Carlson, Christopher D. Carone, Herry J. Kwee, Vahagn Nazaryan, “Positive Parity Pentaquarks Pragmatically Predicted”, Phys. Lett. B579: 52-58, 2004; hep-ph/0310038
  • Carl E. Carlson, Christopher D. Carone, Herry J. Kwee, Vahagn Nazaryan, “Phenomenology of the Pentaquark Anti-decuplet”, Phys. Lett. B573: 101-108, 2003; hep-ph/0307396.
  • Justin M. Conroy, Herry J. Kwee, Vahagn Nazaryan, “Phenomenology of Lorentz Conserving Noncommutative QED”, Phys. Rev. D68: 054004, 2003; hep-ph/0305225 .
  • Vahagn Nazaryan, “Evaluating Matrix Elements Relevant to Some Lorentz Violating Operators”, Phys. Rev. D67: 017704, 2003; hep-ph/0210300.
  • S.A. Bznuni, V.N. Jamkochyan, V.R. Nazaryan, A.G. Khudaverdyan, “On Parameters of Two Undercritical Reactor Systems guided by an Accelerator”, Izvestiya Natsionalnoi Academii Nauk Armenii, Fizika, vol. 35, pp 90-99, 2000.