Medical Physics Unit: Fellowship honours Podgorsak

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Philip Fine

Dr. Ervin Podgorsak would kick students out of oral exams, saying “You’re not ready,” remembers Professor Jan Seuntjens, Director of the Medical Physics Unit. “But he loved his students. He was concerned about their futures.” To honour this legacy, the Unit has created a new fellowship in Podgorsak’s name.

Podgorsak, who was director of the Unit from 1991 to 2008, established its graduate and clinical residency programs. An early pioneer of targeted radiation, he was among the first to team up with a neurosurgeon and radiation oncologist to deliver it to patients. His book, Radiation Physics for Medical Physicists, is in its third printing.

In the early 2000s, he wrote an op-ed about building a bunker in Plattsburgh to accommodate an expected influx of Quebecers seeking radiotherapy treatment. It is thought to have influenced the government to invest in new radiation equipment.

He stepped down from teaching in 2011. Seuntjens says Podgorsak’s name is so well known in the field that its cachet has turned the fellowship into a recruitment tool.

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