A L U M N I P R O F I L E James Metz, MD ’95: Beaming into Medical History H “I e’s considered the father of proton beam therapy at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn). And he’s had a hand in the development of proton therapy facilities around the world to treat cancer. But his passion for radiation oncology was ignited right here at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. James Metz, MD ’95, remembers the day it happened. t was during Career Night,” Dr. Metz recalls. “There were tables set up for different specialties. I was set on pursuing medical oncology, so I was looking for that table. Then I saw the radiation oncology representative sitting in a corner with no one around. I got into a great conversation with him, and he encouraged me to do a summer research program, which I did.” He adds, “I loved the clinical and research exposure. I knew this was it. That experience was the reason I decided to make radiation oncology my career.” The combination of the humanistic side of medicine and the technical side appealed to him. “I enjoy the intense L Y N D A R U D O L P H relationships with patients, and the fact that radiation oncologists treat any area of the body,” he says. “I get to treat people of all ages, babies through adults. For me, it was that broad mix of patients I would see, and the exposure to what was going on with technology, that was the ideal blend of the two worlds.” An Enviable Career T B Y oday, Dr. Metz serves as chair, Department of Radiation Oncology, at the Perelman School of Medicine and holds the Henry K. Pancoast Endowed Professorship. At Penn since 1996, he is also currently associate director for clinical services and programs at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsyl- vania—a National Cancer Institute– designated Comprehensive Cancer Center since 1973—and is considered a leading expert in the design and implementation of proton therapy facilities. His relationship with Penn began with a residency there, and then he was hired to lead the proton beam initiative. “When I was hired in 1999, there were only two proton centers operational in the country. They hired me to help build the one at Penn,” says Dr. Metz. “We opened the Roberts Proton Therapy Center in 2010—it ended up being the fifth center opened in the United States and the largest fully integrated proton therapy center in the world, based on the number of rooms and patients treated.” Including other radiation oncology services, the program treats about 450 patients a day on site and at 11 satellite facilities. Proton therapy is external beam radiotherapy. It works by aiming energized particles, in this case protons, onto the target tumor. Because of the accuracy of the beam, proton therapy delivers a higher dose of treatment directly to the tumor, while sparing healthy tissue. Patients with cancers of the brain and skull base, breast, 40 Robert Wood Johnson I MEDICINE