Proton therapy pioneer James M. Slater dies at 89

por John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | January 04, 2019
Rad Oncology Proton Therapy

“After the hearing, we went to the committee session with the Senate and got $25 million. And it was a direct result of the presentation of Dr. Slater,” Lewis later remarked in The Convergence of Disciplines.

The new treatment also became a contentious subject in 1989, the same year the first synchrotron components were shipped from Fermilab to Loma Linda University Health campus, with a Wall Street Journal article referring to the particle accelerator as a “contraption.”

Many feared that the treatment would be ineffective or instill false hope in cancer patients, and took issue with the fact that it was funded with millions of dollars from Congress and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The three-story facility, nonetheless, opened its doors in 1990, equipped with an accelerator and proton guidance system weighing 400 tons and capable of producing up to 250 million electron volts of radiation. It has since treated more than 18,000 patients and was the only institute of its kind up until 2003. In recognition of Slater’s work, the hospital renamed the facility, in 2007, the James M. Slater, M.D. Proton Treatment and Research Center.

In addition to the center, Slater’s legacy also includes his son, Jerry D. Slater, who chairs the department of radiation medicine at Loma Linda University Health.

A service is scheduled to take place in Salt Lake City Utah.

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