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Brief History of Radiation Oncology at Jefferson

Radiation Oncology at Jefferson has a long and impressive record. As early as 1901, clinicians at the hospital used X-ray radiation to treat cancer and other conditions. In the decade after 1904, Jefferson clinicians administered many hundreds of radium treatments annually.

Already by 1932, junior Jefferson radiology students were receiving weekly instruction in radium therapy. By the 1940s, the hospital had a physician serving on its staff who was a fully accredited radiation therapist. By the 1950s, the hospital had its first clinical physicist, had built a physics laboratory, and had organized radiation therapy as a separate division. In the late 50s and early 60s, it installed its first teletherapy units.

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By 1969, Jefferson had the first radiation therapy simulator in the United States. In the late 60s, and in the 70s under the leadership and chairmanship of Simon Kramer, MD, Radiation Oncology became a separate department at the university, and research efforts increased, with Jefferson organizing some of the first national, randomized studies in the field. Dr. Kramer helped organize the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) and bring basic and clinical research, and physical facilities, of the department into the modern era.

Carl Mansfield, MD, chaired the department from 1983 to 1994, overseeing a host of important enhancements. This period saw the opening of Jefferson’s Bodine Center for Cancer Treatment, a three-floor, 57,000 square foot, outpatient facility dedicated to Radiation Oncology. Dr. Mansfield who managed many pioneering developments in the department in such areas as intraoperative radiation therapy and innovative approaches to brachytherapy went on to a leadership position at the National Cancer Institute and Chairman of Radiation Oncology at the University of Maryland.

Walter J. Curran, Jr., MD, was chairman of the department from 1994 to 2008. He is an international authority on lung cancer and brain tumor treatment, continuing the department’s strong tradition of leadership. Under his guidance, the department achieved a far-reaching reputation in clinical trials, innovative patient care, and an increase in the number of community centers.

Adam P. Dicker, MD, PhD was appointed to the role of interim chairman in 2008 and chairman in 2010. Dr. Dicker is a noted authority on brachytherapy for prostate cancer and translational laboratory research. He continues the strong tradition of research excellence at Jefferson with participation in cooperative group clinical trials as well as investigator initiated clinical trials.