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University of California San Francisco

Our Team

Martina Descovich, Ph.D.

Division of Physics
Department of Radiation Oncology

Meet Dr. Descovich

As an experimental physicist I studied fundamental nuclear science using radiation beams. Turning these discoveries into life-saving medical treatments is a true privilege of working at UCSF.

Dr. Descovich is a Professor in the UCSF Department of Radiation Oncology and she is certified by the American Board of Radiology. She received her Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics from the University of Liverpool, UK, where she developed gamma ray tracking detectors to study the behavior of radioactive nuclei. She specializes in the physics of stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), and has been the lead physicist of the robotic radiosurgery program since the installation of the CyberKnife at the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center in 2010. Her current research is focused on robotic SBRT, with an emphasis on motion management ant target tracking.



1994-1999 Università degli Studi de Padova, Italy BS/MS Physics
1999-2003 University Of Liverpool, UK PhD Nuclear Physics
2003-2005 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA Post-Doctoral Research Fellow Nuclear Science
2005-2007 University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA Medical Physics Resident Department of Radiation Oncology
Professional Experience

Professional Experience

2021-present UCSF Professor Radiation Oncology
2015-2021 UCSF Associate Professor Radiation Oncology
2009-2015 UCSF Assistant Professor Radiation Oncology
2007-2009 UCSF Clinical Instructor Radiation Oncology


Awards & Honors

2004 Outstanding performance award, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
2006 Travel grant award, American Brachytherapy Society
2012 Nomination: Postdoctoral Scholar Association Outstanding Faculty Mentorship Award, UCSF
2019 Jean Pouliot Teaching Award, UCSF Radiation Oncology, Physics Residency Program
2019 Nomination: Academic Senate Distinction in Teaching Award, UCSF
2020 Lawrence Margolis, M.D. Lifetime Teaching Award, UCSF Radiation Oncology
2021 Nomination: Academic Senate Distinction in Teaching Award, UCSF



Recent Significant Publications


Chan J., Johnson J., Lazar A. A., Braunstein S. E. , Descovich M., Gottschalk A. R., Yom S. S (2018) Stereotactic body radiation therapy for non-small cell lung cancer patients with prior history of thoracic surgery and/or radiation therapy: the influence of smoking, size and central location on risk of complications, Journal of Radiation Oncology 7(1):53-61 https://doi.org/10.1007/s13566-017-0330-7

Kearney V., Descovich M., Sudhyadhom A., Cheung J.P., McGuinness C., Solberg T.D. (2018) A Continuous arc delivery optimization algorithm for CyberKnife M6, Med Phys. 45(8) pp. 3861-3870. doi: 10.1002/mp.13022

Chapman C., McGuinness C., Gottschalk A.R., Yom S.S., Garsa A., Anwar M., Braunstein S., Sudhyadhom A., Keall P., Descovich M. (2018) Influence of Respiratory Motion Management Technique on Radiation Pneumonitis Risk with Robotic Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy, Journal of Applied Clinical Medical Physics 19(4), pp. 48-57.

Kearney V., Chan J.W., Haaf S., Descovich M., Solberg T.D. (2018) DoseNet: a Volumetric Dose Prediction Algorithm using 3D Fully-Convolutional Neural Networks, Physics in Medicine and Biology, Phys. Med. Biol. 63 (23)5022 – published Dec 4, 2018

Kearney V., Chan J.W., Wang T., Perry A., Descovich M., Yom S.S., Solberg T.D.,  (2020) DoseGAN: a Generative Adversarial Network for Synthetic Dose Prediction Using Attention-Gated Discrimination and Generation, Scientific reports, Springer Nature, 10 (1), 1-8. Jul 6;10(1):11073. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-68062-7. PMID: 32632116

Nano T. F., Capaldi D. P. I., Yeung T., Chuang C. F., Wand L., Descovich M. (2020) Technical Note: Performance of CyberKnife Tracking Accuracy Using Low-Dose CT and kV Imaging, Med Phys 47(12):6163-6170.  doi: 10.1002/mp.14537.

Vinas L., Scholey J., Descovich M., Kearney V., Sudhyadhom A. (2021) Improved contrast and noise of megavoltage computed tomography (MVCT) through cycle-consistent generative machine learning, Medical Physics 48 (2) 676-690

Chen W. C., Li Y., Lazar, A., Altan A., Descovich M., Nano T., Ziemer B., Sudhyadhom A., Cunha A., Thomas T., Gottschalk A., Hsu I-C., Roach M. (2021) Stereotactic body radiotherapy and high-dose rate brachytherapy boost in combination with intensity modulated radiotherapy for localized prostate cancer: a single-institution propensity score matched analysis, Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys, 110 (2), pp 429-437, 1 June 2021.

Laurent D., Smith A. E., Bessler W. K., Mendonca M., Chin-Sinex H., Descovich M., Horvai A. E., Clapp D. W., Nakamura J. L. (2021) Irradiation of Nf1 plexiform neurofibromas drives disease progression, Neuro-Oncology Advances, Neuro-Oncology Advances, Volume 3, Issue 1, January-December 2021, vdab063, https://doi.org/10.1093/noajnl/vdab063

Scholey J., Vinas L., Kearney V., Yom S., Larson P., Descovich M., and Sudhyadhom A. (2022) Improved accuracy of electron density and proton stopping power through CycleGAN machine learning, Physics in Medicine and Biology 67(10)

Redefining Possible