Paul Okunieff, M.D., is the Marshall E. Rinker Sr. Foundation and David B. and Leighan R. Rinker chair and
serves as director of the UF Shands Cancer Center and chair of the College of Medicine department of radiation oncology.

For nearly 50 years, the department of radiation oncology has blazed a trail not only within the University of Florida but also within in the field of radiation oncology itself. In this issue, we highlight the role this crucial department has played in the evolution of cancer care and research at UF and in the nation.

It’s incredible how the seeds our founding chair Dr. Robert Million planted during those early days have taken root throughout the years, yielding a strong focus on clinical research, collaboration and technology (for more on this click here).

In the past decade alone, we established the UF Proton Therapy Institute in Jacksonville, began ardently investigating ways to treat and cure metastatic disease, and obtained the Intrabeam system for performing intraoperative radiation. Earlier this year, we installed the new Vero system at the UF Proton Therapy Institute. The Vero system (for more on this click here) allows us to track tumors in real time, which is incredibly beneficial for targeting metastatic tumors.

Of course, perhaps the most exciting part is there is so much more on the horizon for this department and for the UF Shands Cancer Center as a whole. As we head into 2013, I can’t help but look forward to some of the projects we are working on now and the goals we have for the future. For example, we are interested in developing a comprehensive survivorship program, examining the natural history of cancer survivors. Nearly one in 10 adults over age 50 in Florida is a cancer survivor so it’s important to figure out the best course of care for these folks to help keep them healthy after their treatment.

In addition, we recently established our Metastatic Disease Program, devoting our research and clinical expertise to developing better treatment protocols and cures for patients whose disease has spread beyond the original tumor site. By targeting these cases, we believe we will be able to not only improve survivorship, but also give hope to patients who too often receive very little. In short, 2012 was a great year. But 2013 looks even better.

Paul Okunieff, M.D.
Director, UF Shands Cancer Center

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Winter 2013

Paul Okunieff, M.D

From the director’s desk

For nearly 50 years, the UF department of radiation oncology has blazed a trail … we highlight the role this crucial department has played in the evolution of cancer care and research at UF and in the nation.

Targeting metastatic disease

UF oncologists are using a sophisticated medical device to treat patients who have recent diagnoses of metastatic cancer, called VERO.

The trailblazers: Pioneers of radiation oncology

UF’s radiation oncology department has been leading the way in research, care, education and technology for almost five decades.

...also in this issue

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