Bradley named head of proton beam therapy center

Jeffrey D. Bradley, M.D., associate professor of radiation oncology, has been named the first director of the Kling Center for Proton Therapy, a facility for treating cancer patients with a new, highly precise form of radiation therapy.

Jeffrey Bradley

The center is scheduled to open in summer 2009 at the Siteman Cancer Center. The facility will be located across the street from the Center for Advanced Medicine on Euclid Avenue.

Bradley, a radiation oncologist specializing in lung and esophageal cancer, is an international expert in the application of stereotactic body radiation therapy, which delivers a tightly focused high radiation dose to a small area. Bradley also is known internationally for breakthroughs in using positron emission tomography (PET) scanning to enhance radiation therapy treatment planning.

The treatment center is named for S. Lee Kling, a director of National Beverage Corp. since 1993. He has served as chairman of the board of the Kling Co., a merchant banking company, since 2002 and is on the board of directors at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Kling led a fundraising effort that obtained $2.3 million to fund research and use of the proton facility. He became interested in proton beam radiation when the therapy was used to eradicate a tumor in his eye.

The Kling Center will be the first single-vault proton therapy center in the country, and the equipment will be assembled and given its first trial at the School of Medicine. The United States has five larger-scale proton therapy centers, but this new streamlined version, developed by Littleton, Mass.-based Still Rivers Systems, costs about one-fifth the $100 million or greater price tag of the older type of proton therapy center and can fit in a much smaller area.

The proton beam device emits positively charged atomic particles. As the protons travel through tissues, they release most of their energy in a concentrated burst near the end of their range, which allows the power of the proton beam to be focused extremely precisely and spares surrounding structures.

Proton beam therapy is especially suitable for childhood cancers and cancers that occur in close proximity to critical tissues such as the brain, eye or the spinal cord. In addition, some types of bone and cartilage cancers don’t respond well to X-ray beam radiation but respond to proton beam radiation.