1980’s: New Horizons

While clinical advances and educational efforts continued into the next decade, the eighties brought about an effort to transform UAB Radiation Oncology into a nationally-recognized program.

Accordingly, a concerted effort to develop a notable and well-documented research program ensued. When Dr. Salter was hired into the Chair role, one of her directives was getting the department in human subjects’ research and then later, basic science research. Involvement in clinical trials was followed by key faculty hires. First, Ruby Meredith, MD, Ph.D., brought her experience with clinical trials to the department in the late 1980’s, and then Radiobiologist Donald Buchsbaum, Ph.D. established the Radiobiology unit at the turn of the decade. Grants and contracts gained in number and award amounts and the formal research effort was underway in earnest.

 

The Eighties were also a period of rapid technological advancement in the Field. The department proved adept at acquiring the latest and greatest innovations. Jill Caranto explained that the challenges presented by these new technologies are perhaps what she has most enjoyed about working in the field of Radiation Oncology. Further, she specifically credits UAB for staying at the technological forefront of the field. “CT, MRI, high tech treatment planning systems, advances from film to digitizers and so on, serve to make this both a fascinating field and a fascinating place in which to work,” Caranto said. “We have always kept up well with new technology, and we’ve often been one of the first facilities to have new technologies.”

The leadership of the department underwent a change as Dr. Roth retired from Practice in 1985 and his first medical resident, Dr. Salter, assumed the Chair position. In the Interim between Dr. Roth’s retirement and Dr. Salter accepting the Chair role, Albert Lobelia, M.D., provided leadership to the department in addition to his regular Responsibilities as Chair of the Comprehensive Cancer Center. He was also pivotal in the future, leading the hiring efforts of James A. Bonner, M.D. and in the development of Dr. Meredith’s research activities. He also aided the collaborative research efforts between the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center and the department.