Teams are behind most advances in the care of patients with cancer. But in October 2011, when Mass General’s Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center introduced a new and highly precise radiation therapy modality, the proton center’s staff were particularly grateful to one person: Benjamin Clasie, PhD.
An experimental nuclear physicist and research fellow in the Mass General Department of Radiation Oncology, Dr. Clasie led the process to bring the state-of-the-art technology of pencil beam scanning into the Burr proton center’s proton radiation arsenal.
Proton therapies destroy cancer cells by precisely targeting beams of proton radiation at tumors while doing little harm to surrounding healthy tissues. As its name implies, pencil beam scanning aims the cancer-killing dosage with even finer precision.
Getting this highly sensitive apparatus to function flawlessly day in and day out took all of Dr. Clasie’s abundant energy, talent and motivation. Working nearly around the clock for two years, he detected and solved the numerous and complex problems associated with introducing novel and delicate technology.
“Ben’s work is never seen by patients,” says a colleague. “But it enhances the care we provide to all of our patients every day.”