The Radiation Oncology Residency Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has been formulated with the following goals in mind:

  • To prepare residents for any type of practice, including private practice or academic positions involving interaction with basic scientists in translational research.
  • Create an atmosphere at UAB that is conducive for the educational process.
  • Involve residents in the outstanding environment of UAB's National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC) and its mission of advancing the science of oncology.

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UAB offers two radiation oncology positions each year, and these positions begin at the PGY2 level. Therefore, residents should submit their application approximately 20 months prior to the time when they wish to begin their PGY2 year. Dr. Lee Burnett is the Residency Director. Tracey Cotton-Young is the Program Coordinator. Questions regarding our program should be directed to Ms. Cotton-Young at

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During PGY2 through PGY5, residents generally receive training on the following services during this 4 year period of time:

  • Clinical Radiation Oncology 36-43 months
  • Research or other electives 1- 8 months
  • Dosimetry and treatment planning 1 month
  • Medical Hematology/Oncology 2 months
  • Surgical Pathology 1 month
  • Total 48 months

Residents will find a clinical staff, headed by Dr. James A. Bonner, that is eager to train the next generation of radiation oncologists. Residents are trained in a didactic physics course, as well as ongoing physics training during their clinical rotations. The didactic course is given every year and has played a major role in the outstanding performance of our residents in the application of physics-related concepts. Residents are also trained in radiobiology each year through the didactic course. The department has a cohesive group of well-funded radiobiology researchers who take part in the didactic course. Additionally, a weekly radiobiology meeting is held and residents are encouraged to participate in this meeting which highlights ongoing research projects. Laboratory rotations are available for residents who have this interest and meet the department's requirements to spend time in a basic science program. The radiobiology group is actively pursuing novel treatments including radioimmuno-therapy, immunotherapy, gene therapy as well as new combinations of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

The UAB Department of Radiation Oncology’s Resident Education Program is accredited through the ACGME. Our students regularly rank among the nation’s best on board scores, and our program is widely recognized to be among the nation’s best.


Required coursework:
  • Each year physics course (meets three times per week)
  • Each year radiobiology course (meets once each week)
  • Review course of selected clinical topics (meets once each week)
  • Clinical journal club (meets once each month)
  • Administrative educational courses (each course meets once during the program).
Additional educational opportunities are available through these regular meetings:
  • Review of new simulations
  • Radiobiology/gene therapy conference
  • Gynecologic oncology conference
  • Head and neck conference
  • Pediatric oncology conference
  • Neuro-oncology conference
  • General tumor board
For more information, please contact Ms. Tracey Cotton-Young at (205) 975-0222.

Supplemental curriculum

Residents will be required to select one of two training pathways:

  1. Holman Pathway
    • The curriculum for the Holman Pathway is well described on the ACGME and ABR websites. Existing faculty James Bonner, M.D., Christopher Willey M.D., Ph.D. (Holman Pathway graduate), and Eddy Yang, M.D. Ph.D., along with new faculty will serve as mentors for Holman pathway residents. The newly established Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (see below) will provide additional resources for training physician scientists.
  2. Clinical Trials Pathway (supplementary to existing curriculum)
    • In May 2008, UAB was awarded a 26.9 million dollar grant from NIH to establish the Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS). As part of this award, additional educational resources now exist at UAB to train young investigators in clinical and translational research. Part of this program includes the Clinical and Translational Sciences Training course. This course is directed at oncology fellows in surgical and medical subspecialties, and residents in radiation oncology have also been invited to participate. This six-month course includes two hours per week of didactic training with lectures and small group discussions on techniques of translational and clinical research. The second component of this course is a mentor-directed research project that is planned and partially completed during this six-month period. Examples of research projects include writing a clinical trial or translational laboratory studies. Residents will be given appropriate time off from clinical duties to fully participate in the course. PGY-3 residents in the residency program enrolled in this course beginning 1/2009. The course outline is attached. PGY-3 resident considered in this course starting 1/2009
    • In order to gain first hand knowledge of the clinical trials process, residents will participate in a variety of committee meetings and supplemental lectures. The committee meetings will mirror the clinical trials process at UAB including the steps in clinical trial development, scientific peer review, IRB, clinical trials monitoring, and auditing. Committee meetings include the following:
        • Disease Oriented Working Group (DOWG) Meeting (3 monthly meetings required, one hour each). The DOWG is the first level of scientific review within the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. At these disease-specific meetings the clinical trials strategies and priorities for specific tumors types are defined. Clinical trial concepts are reviewed and discussed before the trial is written.
        • Clinical Trials Review Committee (CTRC, 3 meetings required, one hour each). The CTRC is the scientific peer review mechanisms for the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. At this meeting experienced investigators from a variety of disciplines provide peer review of clinical trials.
        • Institutional Review Board (UAB IRB, 1 meeting required, 2 hours).
        • Clinical Trials Monitoring Committee (CTMC, 3 meetings required, one hour each) The CTMC is the UAB clinical monitoring mechanism for investigator-initiated clinical trials.
        • Quality Assurance Committee (QAC, one meeting required, one hour, plus one audit). The QAC is led by Dr. Fiveash and is the clinical trial auditing mechanism of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. The residents will assist an experienced faculty member to audit one clinical trial.
        • Lectures (~one hour each)
          • Budgeting for clinical trials
          • FDA and IND
          • Conflict of Interest
        • In order to fully participate in the supplemental clinical trials curriculum, residents will be given time away from clinic to fully participate in the CCTS Training Course and the Committee meetings described above.

The UAB Department of Radiation Oncology prides itself on remaining at the technological forefront of the industry. Our primary technologies include:


  • 4D CT simulation, using the Varian Real-time Position Management™ (RPM) system with the CT simulator and PET/CT unit

Treatment planning and dosimetry

  • Eclipse™ treatment planning system for 3D planning
  • Eclipse intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
  • Eclipse planning for RapidArc™ radiotherapy technology
  • Portal dosimetry for IMRT verification
  • Remote treatment planning

Treatment delivery

  • 4D integrated treatment console
  • Clinac® iX linear accelerator with OBI (kV and CBCT)
  • RapidArc™ radiotherapy technology
  • Real-time Position Management™ (RPM) system for respiratory gating

IGRT treatment localization

  • OBI radiographic: kV-kV anatomy matching

Intracranial and extracranial stereotactic radiosurgery

  • IMRT based single-fraction brain stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS)
  • Stereotactic body image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) with hypo-fractionation
  • CBCT guidance for hypo-fractionated treatments

Oncology information systems

  • ARIA™ oncology information system
  • Networking environment (WAN, LAN, HL7)
  • Remote treatment planning

For more information about our technology, please view our Treatment Technologies section.

The UAB Department of Radiation Oncology offers its resident physicians an industry-competitive salary and benefits program, including:

  • Three weeks paid vacation per academic year
  • Shared-cost health and dental insurance coverage
  • Fully paid malpractice
  • Paid sick time
  • Individual work space and computer
  • Travel expenses paid for educational trips where the resident presents their research
  • A one-time stipend
  • Additional funding opportunities through teaching

For more information, please see the UAB Graduate Medical Education Handbook here.

You may also view this screencast here.

For more information, please contact Ms. Tracey Cotton-Young at (205) 975-0222.

Our Physics teaching program starts when new residents arrive in the department. During the orientation lectures, the new residents are made familiar with Radiation Therapy machines and Radioisotopes. They are able to do simple dose calculations when they are on call. The regular lectures consist of basic and clinical Radiotherapy Physics including external beam and brachytherapy. Residents repeat the Physics course for another two years, and their training includes homework and tests. Each lecture series consists of about 55 one hour lectures. The aim of the program is not simply to prepare them for the board examination but also to teach them basic physics concepts applicable to radiation therapy treatments. The residents learn the physics that they’ll use daily and they will also better their interactions with the Physicists and Dosimetrists during the practice. Our residents have historically fared extremely well in the in-service and national board examinations. Most of them score more than 90 percentile and one has achieved the nation’s highest board score on the physics section of the exam. This program is considered by many to be among the very best in the nation.

The Department of Radiation Oncology recognizes that its residents need to be prepared for not only medical practice, but also for the numerous other aspects that impact the daily lives of physicians. Accordingly, we offer education in various administrative fields in direct concert with the issues and challenges faced by most physicians in private or academic practice. The course outline includes:

Financial concerns

  • Accounting
  • Healthcare Finance
  • Healthcare Economics

Human Resources

  • Hiring Practices and Laws
  • Employment Law
  • Compensation Issues

Leadership and Practice Oversight

  • Social Aspects
  • Process Management
  • Quality and Safety

Strategic Planning and Marketing

  • Structure and Strategy
  • Planning Processes
  • Implementation and Assessment

Coding and Reimbursement

  • Accurate Procedural and Diagnosis Coding
  • Reimbursement

Documentation and Compliance

  • Documentation Supporting Coding
  • Compliance Overview

Ethics and Research

  • Ethics Rules and Laws

Research Program