Hania Al-Hallaq, Ph.D.


Hania Al-Hallaq came to the United States in 1990 to attend Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. She quickly became a regular in the Physics Department and began doing research with Peter Beckmann using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to investigate molecular motion.  A summer research project at Michigan State University introduced her to the many uses of physics in medicine. In 1994, she earned her AB degree in physics along with 3% of her graduating class, a percentage that is nearly 50 times the national average for women graduating with undergraduate physics degrees in the United States.

Hania entered a Ph.D. program in medical physics at The University of Chicago in 1994 and spent 6 years studying the oxygenation status of tumors using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in Greg Karczmar’s laboratory. After extensive experimental experience, Hania entered a residency training program in Therapeutic Physics at The University of Chicago from 2000-2002. With her strong background in medical physics, and solid practical training, Hania obtained ABR certification in Therapeutic Physics in 2003.

After a couple of years as a clinical physicist, Hania returned to The University of Chicago as an Instructor in Radiation & Cellular Oncology. Currently, her clinical focus is the innovation of breast therapy treatments. She works closely with Dr. Steven Chmura and in tandem they have implemented intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) for breast radiation. Moreover, they have designed a prone immobilization device for treating a subset of women who many benefit dosimetrically from this position. Their future goals include starting a partial breast irradiation protocol and including MRI in the treatment planning process for radiotherapy.

On the research front, Hania remains interested in incorporating functional imaging, specifically regarding the oxygenation status of tumors, into clinical practice. Much work remains to be done in order to be able to use functional imaging to differentiate patients who may benefit from treatment to a higher dose. Currently, Hania is collaborating with Dr. Halpern’s group to use electron spin resonance (EPR) to validate some of the clinically available imaging methods claiming to measure hypoxia.