Gal Shafirstein

DSc, MSc, BSc

Specializing In:

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) Thermal ablation Finite element modeling for light propagation in tissues Light dosimetry Design clinical studies in PDT

Research Interests:

PDT treatment of head and neck and lung cancer Interstitial light therapy Computer modeling and dosimetry for guiding light therapy

About Gal Shafirstein


Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Professor of Oncology
  • Department of Cell Stress Biology
  • Director of PDT Clinical Research

University at Buffalo

  • Research Professor

International Journal of Hyperthermia

  • Section Editor for Clinical Laser Ablation


Education and Training:

  • 1988-1992 - DSc - Materials Science, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology
  • 1986-1988 - MSc - Technion, Israel Institute of Technology
  • 1982-1986 - BSc - Materials Science, Ben Gurion University, Beer Sheva, Israel

Professional Memberships:

  • Fellow, American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS)
  • Member, American Association for Cancer Research
  • Member, Society of Thermal Medicine
  • Member, International Photodynamic Association


Research Overview:

Our laboratory research work focuses on treatment planning and light dosimetry for interstitial and intraoperative PDT. We aim to improve the quality of life and survival for patients with locally advanced head neck cancer or lung cancer, who failed to respond to standard therapies or have no effective current treatments. We work in close collaboration with physicians to translate the technologies developed in the laboratory into the clinic. The laboratory also supports clinical studies and off label use of PDT in the treatment of patients with head and neck and lung cancer.

Shafirstein Lab

NIH Awards:

Integrated Image-Guided Dosimetry and Treatment Planning for Photodynamic Therapy

Source and ID: R01 CA193610 NCI/NIH
Project Period: 12/1/15-11/30/20
Role: Principal investigator (PI)
Major Goals: The objective of this study is to use the power of our integrated dosimetry system to study and define optimal fluence rate and fluence for interstitial photodynamic therapy in locally advanced head and neck cancer.

Mechanisms and Strategies for Optimization

Source and ID: P01 CA55791 NCI/NIH
Project Period: 6/16/15-5/31/19
Role: Project Co-Leader
Description: The major goal of this program project is to demonstrate that PDT with HPPH results in long-term tumor responses that compare, or better than, the current standards of care. In the scientific part of this project, we will research how PDT can be improved by enhancing cancer cells’ retention of new photosensitizing drugs, based on tumor-specific characteristics, and investigate how PDT impacts patient antitumor immunity.

Interstitial Intensity Modulated Photodynamic Therapy (i-IMPDT)

Source and ID: R43CA213654, Simphotek Inc NIH/NCI
Project Period: 06/1/2017 – 11/30/2017
Role: Subcontract PI
Description: The major goal of this project is to develop a commercial prototype of software and hardware that will include computational tool for light transport and photokinetics for interstitial PDT.

Patient tailored near real-time image-based treatment for interstitial PDT of Inoperable Cancer with Airway Obstruction – Phase IIa.

Source and ID: 1R44 CA265 656 NIH/NCI                                                                                 
Project Period: 08/11/2021- 07/30/2024
Role: Co-PI                                                                                 
Project Goal: To demonstrate that Dosie can effectively guide I-PDT in the treatment of inoperable lung cancer and metastatic malignancies in the airway, a Phase I/II clinical study.

Interstitial Chemophototherapy with Light-Activated Nanoparticulate Doxorubicin - Phase II

Source and ID: R42 CA243954 NIH/NCI
Project Period: 09/2022 – 09/2024
Role: Principal Investigator
Major Goals: To further develop interstitial chemophototherapy with light-activated nanoparticulate doxorubicin for the treatment of large hepatocellular carcinoma in a woodchuck model, and to generate valuable toxicity data that contributes towards submitting an investigational new drug application for first-in-human clinical studies.

Optical Surface Applicator Light Dosimetry for Ruthenium-based Photosensitizer Mediated Intraoperative Photodynamic Therapy 

Source and ID: R21CA256537 NIH/NCI 
Project Period: 07/2021- 06/2024
Role: Principal Ivestigator      
Project Goal: To improve intraoperative photodynamic therapy with an optical surface applicator that precisely controls the light and a new drug that ablates cancer.

Featured on Cancer Talk


Full Publications list on PubMed
  1. Shafirstein G, Battoo A, Harris KE, Baumann H, Gollnick SO, Lindenmann J, Nwogu CE. Photodynamic Therapy of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: Narrative Review and Future Directions. Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2016, 13, 265-275. PMID: 26646726; PMCID: PMC5015713
  2. Rigual N, Shafirstein G, Cooper MT, Baumann H, Bellnier DA, Sunar U, Tracy EC, Rohrbach DJ, Wilding G, Tan W, Sullivan M, Merzianu M, Henderson BW. Photodynamic therapy with 3-(1'-hexyloxyethyl) pyropheophorbide a for cancer of the oral cavity. Clin Cancer Res. 2013 Dec 1;19(23):6605-13. PubMed PMID: 24088736; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3911775.
  3. Shafirstein G, Rigual NR, Arshad H, Cooper MT, Bellnier DA, Wilding G, Tan W, Merzianu M, Henderson BW. Photodynamic therapy with 3-(1'-hexyloxyethyl) pyropheophorbide-a for early-stage cancer of the larynx: Phase Ib study. Head Neck. 2015 Jan 10;PubMed PMID: 25580824; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4499022.
  4. Oakley E, Wrazen B, Bellnier DA, Syed Y, Arshad H, Shafirstein G. A new finite element approach for near real-time simulation of light propagation in locally advanced head and neck tumors. Lasers Surg Med. 2015 Jan;47(1):60-7. PubMed PMID: 25559426; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4304874.
  5. Oakley,E.; Bellnier, D.A.; Hutson, A.; Wrazen, B.; Arshad, H.; Quon, H.; Shafirstein, G. Surface markers for guiding cylindrical diffuser fiber insertion in interstitial photodynamic therapy of head and neck cancer. Lasers Surg Med 2017, 49, 599-608. PMCID:PMC5513772