History

From our modest beginnings in the basement of the Jefferson Tower in 1969, the Department of Radiation Oncology at UAB has ascended to the technological vanguard of its field. An evolution ensued from our roots as a clinical-based unit to that of a world-recognized leader in clinical care, education, and research. These progressions have mirrored the passions of each Chairperson, yielding a winning blend of transformations that have continually built upon the successes of the former. And while each Chair has kept the solid foundations sculpted by their predecessors, each has added a building block of their own, advancing the scope and breadth of our mission, and thus bolstering their own legacy.

The organization has benefitted from a continuity of leadership, evidenced by the fact that only three Chairs have presided over the department’s 40-year history:

Many extraordinary events and achievements have transpired under the guidance of these leaders. Here are just a few of the notables within the confines of each of the three principal missions of our program:

Clinical Program Highlights

  • UAB's Hazelrig-Salter Radiation Oncology Center is the third U.S. site to acquire TrueBeam™ STx technology, 2010
  • Grand opening of the new Hazelrig-Salter Radiation Oncology Center, 2010
  • 1st site to treat with Rapid Arc, 2008
  • 1st in our region with Tomotherapy, 2004
  • The Kirklin Clinic at Acton Road opens, 2002
  • 1st in the region to perform IMRT, 1999
  • A leader in Gamma Knife Radiosurgery since 1995
  • Among the first to perform linear accelerator-based radiosurgery
  • 1st in Ultrasound based Image Guidance, 1974
  • 1st department in the region to separate Therapeutic Radiology from Diagnostic Radiology, 1969

Educational Highlights

  • First Holman Pathway resident begins training, 2010
  • Residency program approved for expansion to ten residents. This represents continued expansion of the Educational Program from four residents in 1998. 2009
  • Top 10% board scores amongst all U.S. programs for several years running
  • Highest scoring resident on the physics portion of the board exam
  • Treatment planning fellowships
  • Ben Blackburn’s Physics textbook published
  • Dr. Donn Brascho’s publication on ultrasound-based image guidance

Research Highlights

  • The NCI grants $11.5 million to the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, under the leadership of senior scientist and pancreatic SPORE leader Donald Buchsbaum, Ph.D. to explore groundbreaking pancreatic cancer research, prevention and treatment, 2010
  • Eddy Yang, M.D., Ph.D awarded Department of Defense grant to study novel therapies to treat prostate cancer, 2010
  • C225 Cetuximab one of ASCO’s top 6 cancer discoveries in 2006
  • Originally developed Chlorotoxin as a brain tumor therapy (Transmolecular)
  • Optimization of Death Receptor Therapy for Malignant Glioma
  • A pioneer in radio immunotherapy (RIT) research (Zevalin, Bexxar)
  • Key player in four NIH SPORE grants with UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Hyperthermia induction research

This department has also experienced the good fortune of having many of its present stewards on staff for a long time. The longest tenured current employees in Radiation Oncology are:

  • Jill Caranto (since 1970)
  • Robert Kim, M.D. (since 1972)
  • Ivan Brezovich, Ph.D. (since 1975)
  • Sharon Spencer, M.D. (since 1983)

Click here to download the full history of our department (.pdf)