Prominent Cedars-Sinai Medical Physicist Receives Highest Honor from Distinguished Association
Los Angeles - July 31, 2013 – Benedick Fraass, PhD, FAAPM, FASTRO, FACR, received the highest honor from the American Association of Physicists in Medicine — the William D. Coolidge Award — for his distinguished career achievements in medical physics, including his pioneering work in radiation oncology.
The William D. Coolidge Award is the most prestigious award of the association and has been given to important medical physicists such as William Coolidge, the inventor of the modern X-ray tube, and Harold Johns, who led the development and clinical use of the first Cobalt machines for radiotherapy.
“The William D. Coolidge Award credits those whose innovation and creativity have revolutionized the field of medical physics — an award only suited for a prestigious leader like Dr. Fraass,” said Steven Piantadosi, MD, PhD, director of the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute and the Phase ONE Foundation Distinguished Chair. “Dr. Fraass has dedicated both his mind and talent to radiation oncology — providing more efficient treatment to thousands of patients across the world.”
Fraass, vice chair for Research and professor and director of Medical Physics in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Cedars-Sinai’s Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, is a renowned medical physicist specializing in radiation oncology, imaging-based treatment planning, computer-controlled treatment delivery and clinical studies of radiation oncology treatment for cancer.
Fraass was instrumental in the creation of 3D treatment planning in the 1980s and early 1990s and helped pioneer the development of 3D conformal therapy, a technique in which beams of radiation are shaped to match a tumor during treatment, sparing nearby normal tissue.
Additionally, Fraass led the team that implemented the first routine clinical use of 3D treatment planning, a now-commonplace software tool used to design and implement more accurate radiation therapy. Fraass and colleagues also created the first radiation oncology clinical dose escalation trials using conformal therapy in 1987, as well as doing pioneering work in computer-controlled treatment delivery. Fraass continues his efforts to improve patient safety.
“It is an honor to join the elite group of past Coolidge award recipients,” said Fraass. “The innovations our group developed have changed the field of radiation oncology, and have improved the cancer treatment for a great many patients. These improvements were only possible due to the teamwork of a dedicated collaboration of medical physicists, physicians, computer scientists, therapists and engineers, and I’m honored to represent all these people in accepting the award.”
Fraass has been principal investigator of many National Cancer Institute grants, including the NCI-funded program project grant "Optimization of High Dose Conformal Therapy,” which was funded from 1993 to 2011 and has authored more than 205 publications. Fraass serves as co-chair of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine Research Committee, the National Radiation Oncology Registry, the Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise-Radiation Oncology effort and the Radiation Oncology Safety Stakeholders Initiative. He is a fellow of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, the American Society of Radiation Oncology and the American College of Radiology. In 2011, Fraass was named professor emeritus of the University of Michigan, where he served as director of the Radiation Oncology Physics Division from 1984 to 2011.