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Release: April 11, 2001

UI to request approval from Board of Regents for new department

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- At the next meeting of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, the University of Iowa will request approval for the creation of a department of radiation oncology within the UI College of Medicine. The new department will be formed from the existing Division of Radiation Oncology in the department of radiology.

"Radiation oncology and diagnostic radiology have been combined ever since x-rays were first discovered about 105 years ago," said Edmund A. Franken, Jr., M.D., professor and interim head of radiology. "However, in the last 30 years the two disciplines have naturally grown apart. Now the vast majority of academic medical centers have two separate departments, and it is time for that to happen at the UI."

Radiation oncology, the treatment of cancer using radiation, is a discrete specialty with its own board certification. The UI division currently maintains the only radiation oncology training program in Iowa. This unique interdisciplinary program brings together physicians, biologists and physicists who share common goals in education, research and treatment of cancer. The discipline is considered a vital part of every established cancer center.

"Faculty members in Radiation Oncology and in the Free Radical and Radiobiology Program play a key role in all aspects of the clinical, educational and research activities of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center," said George J. Weiner, M.D., director of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UI. "Close interaction by members of Radiation Oncology with other members of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center is absolutely necessary if we are to supply multidisciplinary, state-of-the-art care to our patients, train the next generation of cancer caregivers and cancer researchers, and perform cutting-edge research."

Weiner, who is also the C.E. Block Professor of Cancer Research and Internal Medicine at the UI, added that the increasing sophistication and complexity of radiation oncology in recent years, as well as the increasing multidisciplinary role played by radiation oncologists, justifies the designation of radiation oncology as a department within the College of Medicine.

"Advances in recent years have led to diagnostic and therapeutic radiologists using different tools and requiring different skills," Weiner said. "This designation will allow the department of radiation oncology and its faculty to work even more closely with other departments involved in the care of cancer patients, and education and research."

The UI Division of Radiation Oncology currently maintains a separate physician residency program and an educational program for training radiation therapists. The division also includes the Free Radical and Radiobiology Program (FRRBP), a graduate degree program that is unique in the state and in the country.

Education will remain a central aim for the proposed department, which will be better able to provide more collaborative and integrated educational programs for physician residents, graduate students in physics and free radical and radiation biology, and radiation therapy students.

"We welcome the creation of this new department. It will provide many new opportunities for physicians, researchers and students," Franken said.

The new department will receive funding from UI Health Care, which previously supported the division of radiation oncology. The UI will not request any additional funding to establish the new department.

If it is approved, the department of radiation oncology will become the 22nd department within the UI College of Medicine.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at www.uihealthcare.com.