Barbara Henderson, PhD

Professor Emeritus
Director, Photodynamic Therapy Center
Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center


Dr. Barbara W. Henderson earned her doctoral degree in Zoology at the University of Graz, Austria, in 1966 and joined the staff of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center (Roswell Park) in 1970, as a Cancer Research Scientist. Dr. Henderson was the Program Leader, Biophysical Therapies Program, and the first Chair of the Department of Cell Stress Biology. She retired from these positions in 2007. Dr. Henderson, Professor of Oncology, currently is the Director of the Photodynamic Therapy Center at Roswell Park.

Dr. Henderson's laboratory research has provided numerous seminal insights into the mechanisms and strategies for optimization of photodynamic therapy (PDT); oxygen and light dependency of PDT; the effect of PDT on the host immune response against tumor; and determinants of photodynamic tumor destruction.

Dr. Henderson is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research, American Society of Photobiology, International Photodynamic Association, and the Radiation Research Society. She has for many years served as Associate Editor of the journal Photochemistry and Photobiology. She is a past member of the NCI Radiation Study Section and Subcommittee D (Clinical Studies) of the NCI Initial Review Group. She is a member of numerous committees at Roswell Park and has authored or co-authored more than 80 journal publications, book chapters and abstracts.

Description of Research

Photodynamic Therapy: Basic and Translational Research

The objective of this program is to devise and implement more effective approaches to Photodynamic Therapy (PDT). PDT involves the administration of a photodynamically-active drug (photosensitizer) or pro-drug followed by drug-activating visible light. This therapy has been successfully applied to both neoplastic and non-neoplastic diseases. Dr. Henderson is the Principal Investigator of a Program Project Grant (2009-2014) entitled “PDT: Mechanisms and Strategies for Optimization”.

This research program takes place in the multidisciplinary, highly interactive environments of the Photodynamic Therapy Center and the Biophysical Therapies Program. As such, numerous lines of attack are being taken to improve both the efficacy and selectivity of PDT, including (i) the rational design, synthesis and testing of new photosensitizers [directed by Dr. Ravindra Pandey, (ii) the design and application of optimal therapeutic regimens, e.g., drug dosage and schedule based on phamacokinetic/pharmacodynamic studies [directed by Dr. David Bellnier, (iii) the elucidation and exploitation of PDT-induced immune responses [directed by Dr. Sandra Gollnick and (iv) the study of molecular pathways of PDT action [directed by Dr. Heinz Baumann.] The program has clinical research components in the areas of lung cancer and head & neck cancer.


Education and Training: 
PhD - Zoology, University of Graz, Austria