The 1960’s: Beginnings

While the field of radiation therapy has more than a century of history, its duration as a discipline at this campus is much shorter.

In the 1930’s radiation therapy was simply a unit within the Department of Radiology, which consisted of both a diagnostic and a therapeutic section. This was the typical arrangement found at most facilities in the United States. While Radiation Oncology became recognized as its own discipline much earlier in Europe and Canada, it instead remained the therapeutic branch of radiology at UAB and much of the United States until decades later.

With encouragement from then Radiology Chairman Robert E. Roth, MD, Dr. Clifton K. Meador, the Dean of the Medical College, finally agreed to separate the therapeutic portion from the remainder of the Department of Radiology in 1969. With this strategic action, the Department of Radiation Oncology was born. Dr. Roth, with fellow physicians Merle Salter, M.D. and Donn Brascho, M.D., medical physicist Benjamin Blackburn, and technical program manager Norbert Black, RT formed the foundation of our first Radiation Oncology staff. While together they were the foundation of a new organization in an emerging field, they were by no means inexperienced. The melding of their versatile skill sets quickly set the stage for brisk development and a period of swift advancement.