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Melissa Ana Liriano Vyfhuis, MD, PhD

Academic Title:

Associate Professor

Primary Appointment:

Radiation Oncology

Administrative Title:

Medical Director, Outpatient Radiation Oncology Practice, UM-CRMC

Additional Title:

Medical Director of Radiation Oncology at UM Capital Region Medical Center Chair of the Radiation Oncology Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee

Education and Training


2001-2005            BS, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, cum laude, University of Maryland, Baltimore                                        County

2005-2014            MD, University of Maryland, School of Medicine

2007-2012            PhD, Biochemistry, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Thesis Advisor: Dr. David J.                                   Weber

                             “Structure, Dynamics, and Function of S100B and S100A5 complexes.”

Post Graduate Education and Training

2014-2015            Internship, Internal Medicine, University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC)

2015-2019            Residency, Radiation Oncology, UMMC

2018-2019            Chief Resident, Radiation Oncology, UMMC



“To whom much is given, much is expected.” Those are the words by which I have lived since college, given to me by my mentor, who was then Assistant Director of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program – a program intended to increase diversity among future leaders in science, technology, engineering, and related fields. As a Meyerhoff Scholar and then as a resident physician in Baltimore, MD, I have witnessed the transformative academic successes that a diverse environment cultivates. However, serving a historically marginalized population has also made me aware of the social injustices and inequities present in cancer care. I have dedicated my career to better understand the needs of our cancer patients and designing pragmatic clinical interventions, particularly as it pertains to nutritional requirements.

I am an Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. I am a radiation oncologist that specializes in the treatment of multiple cancers, including thoracic, head and neck, gastrointestinal, gynecological, and breast malignancies. I have been at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center for nearly 20 years and during that time I have collaborated with other researchers, physicians, and colleagues on work that has resulted in more than 30 peer-reviewed publications. We have preliminary data from our cancer center, describing the psychosocial and nutritional inequities our cancer patients experience, particularly those who reside in zip-code designated food deserts or food priority areas (FPAs). As a continuation of that work, we are designing a clinical workflow to readily identify high-risk patients for food insecurity early in their cancer care and develop personalized, nutritional intercessions for our patients that reside in FPAs and struggle with nutrition uncertainty in Baltimore, MD.




Highlighted Publications

Contributions to Science (select publications)


  1.  Residency (2014-2019): My early publications centered around institutional data evaluating the treatment and outcomes of stage III non-small cell lung cancer patients in an underserved, inner-city setting. These publications highlighted differences in care offered and received based on race, insurance status, and other socioeconomic demographics that formed the foundation of prospective work continuing today.
    • Vyfhuis M, Bhooshan N, Molitoris J, Bentzen S, Feliciano J, Edelman M, Burrows W, Nichols E, Suntharalingam M, Donahue J, Nagib M, Carr S, Friedberg J, Badiyan S, Simone II C, Feigenberg S, Mohindra P. Clinical outcomes of black vs. non-black patients with locally advanced non–small cell lung cancer. Lung Cancer. 2017; 114:44-49.
    • Vyfhuis M, Bhooshan N, Burrows W, Turner M, Suntharalingam M, Donahue J, Nichols E, Feliciano J, Bentzen S, Badiyan S, Carr S, Friedberg J, Simone II C, Edelman M, Feigenberg S, Mohindra P. Implications of pathological complete response (pCR) at the primary tumor after chemoradiotherapy (CRT) followed by surgical resection in patients with locally advanced, non-small cell lung cancer (LA-NSCLC). Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2018;101(2):445-452.
    • Vyfhuis M, Bentzen S, Bhooshan N, Edelman M, Burrows W, Nichols E, Suntharalingam M, Donahue J, Carr S, Friedberg J, Badiyan S, Simone II C, Feigenberg S, Mohindra P, Feliciano J. Marital status is an independent predictor of survival for stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients undergoing definitive chemoradiation with or without surgery. J Community Support Oncol. September 2018:16(5); e194-e201.
    • Vyfhuis M, Bentzen S, Molitoris J, Grover S, Badiyan S, Simone II C, Mohindra P. Patterns of care and survival in Black and Latino patients as compared to white patients with stage III non-small cell lung cancer. Clin Lung Cancer. February 2019;20(4):248-257.
  1. Psychosocial needs of cancer patients (2019-2023): Soon after residency, I led several prospective research efforts that focused on quantifying the spiritual, financial, functional, emotional, and nutritional needs of cancer patients at multiple time points before and after curative radiation therapy. Special attention was given to the effects of food source availability and nutritional insecurities on cancer care, providing, to the best of our knowledge, one of the first prospective data on how cancer patients fare in food deserts. Our work is currently under consideration at the Int J Radiation Oncology Biology and Physics
    • Haskins CP, Champ CE, Miller Rm Vyfhuis M. Nutrition in cancer: Evidence and equality. Review. Adv Radiat Oncol. 2020;5,817-823.
    • Savla B, Hamza M, Yacubovich D, Cobbs S, Petrovska L., Scilla K, Burrows W, Mehra R, Miller RC, Rolfo C, Bentzen SM, Mohindra P, Vyfhuis M. The impact of body mass index (BMI) and residence in food priority areas (FPAs) on patterns-of-care and cancer outcomes in patients with stage III non-small cell lung cancer. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2023;116(1):50-59.
    • Dahlia K, Savla B, Lievers A, Baker K, Vyfhuis M. Identifying psychosocial needs of cancer patients undergoing curative radiation therapy in an inner-city academic center to address racial disparities. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2022;114(2):185-194.
  1. Improving clinical trial enrollment (2020-present): Efforts are ongoing to identify the psychosocial factors that are important for women to consider when enrolling in breast cancer clinical trials, with the ultimate goal of improving enrollment of historically excluded groups, particularly black women. This cross-sectional study was conducted using a questionnaire adapted from two pre-validated surveys, given to approximately 200 women. Several focus groups were held to discuss important themes. The study is now complete and we are expanding this study to include men as well as other malignancies (thoracic, head and neck, gastrointestinal and other cancers).
    • Markan U, Baker K, Eggleston C, Cheston S, Mohindra, P, Nichols E, McAvoy S, Bentzen S, Vyfhuis M. Psychosocial factors that influence a woman’s decision to enroll in a clinical trial – implications on how to improve clinical trial enrollment among black women. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2024 (In press). 

Additional Publication Citations

Complete List of Published Work in My Bibliography:

Melissa Vyfhuis's Bibliography (

Clinical Specialty Details

Clinical Activities

Clinical Expertise

Board certified Radiation Oncologist

Wide range of clinical focus which includes treating Thoracic, Head and Neck, Gastrointestinal, Breast, CNS and Genitourinary malignancies

Clinical research focus is primarily defining cancer inequities and developing pragmatic clinical interventions to improve cancer outcomes, particularly in historically marginalized groups.

Administrative Service

Institutional Service

2020 - Present       Chair, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, UMMC, Department of Radiation                                               Oncology

2021-Present         Medical Student Interviewer, Office of Admissions, UMSOM

2022                      Lecturer, Hyperthermia as a Resource in Cancer Care 4th Annual Minimally Invasive Cancer                                 Care Symposium, UM-Baltimore Washington Medical Center (UM-BWMC)

2023                      Panelist, Breast Cancer Lunch Panel, UM-BWMC

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Training/Initiatives

2020                     Everyday Bias for Healthcare Professionals, UMSOM

2020-Present         Chair of the DEI Committee, Radiation Oncology

  • Meet monthly with the DEI committee, creating educational DEI-centric events for the Radiation Oncology Department
  • Created a “DEI Feedback Corner” via Citrix so colleagues have a way to anonymously voice any DEI concerns or needs in the department
  • DEI Book/Movie Club – Started November 2021, quarterly event we host in the department discussing a diverse range of books and movies focusing on the voices of historically marginalized groups. Done 4 times a year, 1-hour discussion.
  • DEI Speaker Series – Once a year, we invite a speaker to discuss DEI themes:
    • May 2022: Dr. Roderick King “UMMS Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: Our Cultural Evolution"
    • May 2023: Dr. Karen Winkfield “Strategies in implementing Racial Equality in Radiation Oncology
  • DEI subcommittees – focusing on updating departmental policies and progress radiation oncology diversity and equity via:
    • Recruitment – subcommittee concentrating on ensuring best practices for residency and faculty interviews, providing a more holistic approach
    • Retention – subcommittee’s purpose is to explore reasons that impact employee retention, working with HR to increase transparency in pay for all staff, aiding to promote pay equity and incorporate DEI representation to exit interviews
    • Review – subcommittee is focusing on incorporating DEI training and education into all employee quarterly reviews


2022-Present         Moderator, Allyship Program, Radiation Oncology (                                    training program that empowers employees to take meaningful action and build an                                          inclusive workplace culture. We are teaching this program twice a year to the Radiation                                      Oncology Department. The training is a total of 6 hours.

2022-Present         DEI Leadership Council, UMSOMA group of faculty/staff working together to develop,                                     promote and implement DEI initiatives to medical students, residents, staff and faculty.  

2023-Present         Holistic Residency Selection and Interview – working with Dr. Sarah McAvoy, Radiation                                      Oncology Program Director and the DEI recruitment subcommittee to design and                                              implement a holistic and standardized medical residency screening and interview rubric, to                                aid in diversifying our applicant pool. This will be expanded to eventually include physics                                  residency selection, dosimetry trainees and new faculty hires.

Teaching Service

Undergraduate Teaching

2020                     Lecturer, Breaking the glass ceiling of cancer treatment: addressing cancer disparities in                                     2020, U-RISE program at UMBC

                             35 undergraduates, 2 hours contact for the lecture

2021                     Panelist,The Leadership Alliance: Pathways to Health Equity

                             200 undergraduates, 2 hours contact for the panel

Medical Student Teaching

2017-present         Research Mentor

                               2-3 medical students/year, 1-2 hours/month

2019-present         Mentor, PRISM and UM Scholars

                               1 medical student, 5-10 hours/week for a summer research project, resulting in a                                               poster/oral presentation and eventual publication

2023                     Lecturer, Nutrition in Cancer: Achieving Equity in Cancer Care

                             30 UM Scholar Students, 1.5 hours for contact for the lecture

2023 -2024            Mentor, Julius Friedenwald House, UMSOM

                              19 medical students, 3-4 hours/quarterly

Resident Student Teaching

2019-present         Research Mentor

                               1-2 residents a year, 20-40 hours/year, resulting in publication

2019-present         Educator, Weekly Community Rounds

                               8-10 residents, 1-hour/week for each year

2020                      Lecturer, Cancer Disparities in Radiation Oncology

                              8-10 residents, 1 hour/year

2021-present         Examiner, UM Mock Orals Course, Breast and Thoracic sections,

                               7-10 residents, 8 hrs/year

2021-present        Mentor, ARRO Equity and Inclusion Subcommittee (EISC) Diversity Mentorship Program

                             2 out of state residents, 1-2 hours/month for one year

2023                    Lecturer, Musculoskeletal System and Head & Neck Anatomy

                            3 medical physics residents, 2-1-hour lectures/year

Post-Graduate Teaching

2022-present         Examiner, Mock Orals, Clinical Board Exam preparation

                               2-3 graduated residents, 2-3 hours/year

Awards and Affiliations

Honors and Awards

2019    Medical Student Research Day (University of Maryland, School of Medicine) Mentor Recognition Award for outstanding mentorship

2019    Roentgen Resident/Fellow Research Award

2018    Resident Manuscript of the Year Award for “Implications of pathological complete response (pCR) at the primary tumor after chemoradiotherapy (CRT) followed by surgical resection in patients with locally advanced, non-small cell lung cancer (LA-NSCLC)” (Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2018;101(2):445-452).

2017    Lynn Sage Symposium Scholar Award

2017    ROI Publication Excellence Award for “Oncological outcomes from trimodality therapy receiving definitive doses of neoadjuvant chemoradiation (≥60 Gy) and factors influencing consideration for surgery in stage III non-small cell lung cancer” (Adv Radiat Oncol. 2017;2(3):259-269).


Grants and Contracts

Ongoing and recently completed projects that I would like to highlight include:

American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grant

Award number: ACS IRG-18-160-16

Effects of Food Deserts on Cancer Care and Outcomes


IRB Protocol HP-00088380

Implications of Religious Beliefs, Mistrust and Other Psychosocial, Demographic and Economic Variables Influencing Women’s Decision on Enrolling in Radiation Breast Cancer Trials

IRB Protocol HP-00106837

Implications of Religious Beliefs, Mistrust and Other Psychosocial, Demographic and Economic Variables Influencing a Patient’s Decision on Enrolling in Radiation-Specific Cancer Trials

IRB Protocol HP-00085125

Identifying Psychosocial, Demographic and Economic Variables Influencing Treatment Decisions and Outcomes in Oncological Care