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Conquering Cancer with Our World-Class Medical Physics Program

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For Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, providing the highest quality patient care also means a commitment to training and developing leaders who continue pushing the boundaries of innovative medicine. The Cancer Center invests significant resources into its medical physics program; the medical specialists who help continuously challenge and improve current standards of radiation oncology.

Since 2004, the Cancer Center has collaborated with Louisiana State University (LSU) to provide the highest quality training in medical physics, now called the Dr. Charles M. Smith Medical Physics Program. These professionals apply their knowledge toward the development and use of new and current technology and ensure efficiency and safety of radiation therapy treatment plans for patients.

This partnership leverages the strengths of both organizations, bringing together the education and research resources of LSU and cancer expertise of Mary Bird Perkins to provide a direct benefit to patients receiving cancer care throughout the Gulf South and beyond.

Multi-Layered High-Quality Training With Mary Bird Perkins – LSU Medical Physics Partnership

The joint academic and research program between the Cancer Center and LSU is nationally recognized and accredited, consisting of a master’s degree program, a doctorate degree program and the largest Medical Physics Residency Program in the United States.

The Mary Bird Perkins – LSU Medical Physics Graduate Program is nationally competitive and the only program of its kind in Louisiana to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Medical Physics Educational Programs (CAMPEP). This program is also regarded within the medical physics community as being among the best in the world for training clinical medical physicists.

Patients Directly Benefit From Mary Bird Perkins – LSU Medical Physics Partnership

The incredible distinctions achieved by the Mary Bird Perkins – LSU Medical Physics partnership continue to attract the brightest minds from around the world, bringing medical physics expertise to the area and helping supply Louisiana with the best professionals in this highly specialized discipline.

Here are just a few of the amazing things this partnership has done to impact patient care:

  • Lowered Risk of Side Effects – Research for predicting long-term, treatment-related side effects led to the development of tools allowing clinicians to compare treatment options and select the one with the lowest predicted risk of side effects.
  • Increased Treatment Accuracy and Comfort – Research helped establish best practice standards for new radiation therapy delivery technologies, translating into increased patient comfort and improved accuracy by significantly reducing time spent during treatment.
  • Lowered Risk of Organ Damage – Research on a deep inspiration breath hold technique for radiation treatment of left-sided breast cancers is helping to reduce radiation exposure of the heart and lowering the risk of organ damage.
  • Better Cosmetic Outcomes Following Breast Cancer Surgery – Research conducted on the Cancer Center’s radiation treatment machines led to a chest wall treatment technique following breast cancer surgery that improves cosmetic outcomes.

A Giant Leap Forward with a Transformational Gift

The already elite medical physics program will continue to reach new heights in cancer care, thanks to a recent $7.8 million estate gift from the late Dr. Charles M. Smith of Sulphur, La.

A beloved family medicine practitioner who devoted his career to helping Louisiana families, Dr. Smith developed an appreciation for the critical role of physics and medicine while undergoing lifesaving cancer treatment. Motivated to ensure access to the same quality of care in his home state of Louisiana, Smith established the Dr. Charles M. Smith Chair in Medical Physics at LSU in 2006.

Through the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Foundation, Dr. Smith’s estate will establish a Chief of Physics Award to support research and educational activities, a directorship and multiple Scholar Awards to assist graduate student research, as well as an Educational Fund to support graduate education programs. This will foster education and innovation among students and physicists, advancing research opportunities that will enhance treatments and recruit the highest quality clinicians for medical physics.

Dr. Smith’s visionary legacy investment is now recognized through the naming of the Dr. Charles M. Smith Medical Physics Program.