UW-Madison: Dr. Thomas ‘Rock’ Mackie receives gold medal from radiation oncology society

Contact: Susan Lampert Smith
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CHICAGODr. Thomas “Rock” Mackie, of the UW Carbone Cancer Center, will receive the Gold Medal Award for his contributions to cancer treatment from the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), the world’s premier radiation oncology society, which is holding its annual meeting, Sept. 15 to 18.

Mackie, professor emeritus of engineering, medical physic and human oncology, contributed many important inventions to radiation therapy. He is probably best known for his development of tomotherapy, which directs a continuous helical delivery pattern of radiation that can be programmed to any shape, thus limiting the dose to healthy tissue. He founded companies, TomoTherapy (now owned by Accuray) and Geometrics, and currently serves as UW Health’s chief innovation officer, and head of Isthmus Project, the health system’s new innovation accelerator.

He will receive the 2019 ASTRO Gold Medal from UW faculty member Dr. Paul Harari, who serves as chairman of the ASTRO board of directors.

“Rock Mackie is a brilliant thinker and inventor,’’ says Harari. “His innovations in radiation oncology have had an enormous impact on the precision of cancer treatment worldwide. We are very fortunate to have had this highly creative scientist working at the University of Wisconsin over the last 30 years.”

Mackie also recently received the John Mallard Award from the International Organization for Medical Physics and will be honored with the Hector F. DeLuca Scientific Achievement Award, Oct. 2, at the Wisconsin Biohealth Summit presented by BioFoward.

ASTRO has more than 10,500 members who are physicians, nurses, physicists, radiation therapists, dosimetrists and other health care professionals who use radiation therapies to treat patients with cancer. UW Carbone researchers, University Hospital physicians and even a University of Wisconsin-Madison undergraduate, will present at the conference at Chicago’s McCormick Place, including:

  • Dr. Zachary Morris, who will give an update on an ongoing clinical trial that aims to reduce the number of radiation treatments needed for prostate cancer.
  • Dr. Paul Harari, the Jack Fowler Professor and chair of Human Oncology at the UW  School of Medicine and Public Health. He will moderate an international panel on radiation oncology and present challenging cases in head and neck cancer. He directs the first National Institutes of Health Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant earned in the state of Wisconsin.
  • Dr. Grace Blitzer, who will discuss a research study in pancreatic cancer patients.
  • Dr. Pippa Cosper, who will talk about how chromosomal instability boosts the effectiveness of radiation therapy in HPV-caused head and neck cancers.
  • Dr. Aleksandra Kuczmarska-Haas, who will discuss using real-time MRI to guide radiation therapy for breast cancer patients following lumpectomy.
  • Dr. Jacob Witt, who will talk about a biomarker that predicts survival in esophageal cancer patients.