Dr. Herman Suit began practicing while the field of radiation oncology was still in its infancy and served as a key leader in the development of proton therapy as an effective, mainstream tool for treating cancer.
Prior to his work with proton therapy, Suit graduated from Baylor University with his M.S. and MD, starting medical school at the age of 19. He went on to Oxford University where he studied the use of human bone marrow cellularity and its effect by radiation. He returned to the U.S. as one of a handful of radiation oncologists in the country and practiced at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. There he established fundamental principles in the management of soft tissue sarcomas using radiation and conservative surgery rather than the customary treatment of that time, amputation.
Suit moved to Boston and became the founding Chair of Radiation Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital. He later worked at Harvard University and helped lead the treatment of some of proton therapy’s first patients. The work received funding from the National Cancer Institute in 1972, a research grant that remains active to this day. This early research led to the establishment of proton therapy as a mainstream medical modality.
Among Dr. Suit’s accomplishments are his work with limb-preserving treatment for sarcoma patients and proton treatment for spine, sacral and skull base tumors.
Dr. Suit later served as president of the American Society of Therapeutic Radiation Oncology and president of the Radiation Research Society. He has won numerous awards for his work. These include the Gold Medal of the American Society of Therapeutic Radiation Oncology and American College of Radiology, the Sloan Award for clinical research and two citings as part of “the one hundred” award from the Mass General Cancer Center. In 2017, Dr. Suit was named a Giant of Cancer Care by OneLive in the Radiation Oncology Category.