Executive Director Message


Whether patients are from the local Jacksonville community or beyond, they have the peace of mind knowing the care they receive is customized to meet their needs and follows enhanced COVID-related safety measures. Beyond knowing the best way to treat cancer, having the most advanced technology and being the most experienced professionals in our region, our entire staff is committed to making patients feel at ease. This includes the significant safety precautions in place as guided by the CDC, ASTRO and UF Health.

We are proud to have treated over 9,000 patients from all 50 U.S. states and over 33 countries throughout our nearly 15 years as a cancer treatment center. We celebrate the diversity of our team, which reflects the population we serve, and is one of the many ways we continue to strive for excellence in our cancer care.

Stuart L. Klein
Executive Director

A TED Talk is in Alumni’s Future

TED Talk with Amelia HoweAmelia Howe from Rugby, Warwickshire, England, has a message for the world, and she plans to give a TED talk to share it. Treated for a soft tissue cancer, or sarcoma, four years ago at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, she is now in remission and a student at the University of Sheffield. With the help of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the nonprofit that fulfills the wishes of critically ill children, she wants to use her wish to change cancer care language.

By using the influential platform of TED, a nonprofit that spreads ideas through powerful, short talks, Amelia hopes to help other cancer patients by convincing the medical community and caregivers, friends, family and others to replace war terminology, like “battle” and “fight”, with more useful and supportive language.


To learn more about Amelia’s story, click here to read an article that was published in her local newspaper.

Leadership and Excellence in Proton Therapy

Our team of professionals is dedicated to the highest quality care of cancer patients and to improving care for future patients. They are often recognized for their outstanding work to advance the field of radiation oncology within the University of Florida and in professional medical associations. Here are a few recent accomplishments of team members we are proud to share:


Teena BurchianitiTeena Burchianiti, MSN, APRN, ANP-BC, OCN®, is the 2021 UF Health Cancer Center Advanced Practice Provider of the Year. She is recognized by her peers as exemplary in her commitment to improving the health and well-being of cancer patients.

Dr. Raymond MailhotRaymond Mailhot Vega, MD, MPH, was recognized for outstanding research by the American Society of Radiation Oncology (ASTRO). His abstract on the topic of breast cancer patient outcomes was selected as Best of ASTRO 2020, a distinction given to the most relevant and highly influential abstracts.

David Newby – A life well lived

David Newby

For those who have spent time at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute over the past six years, whether it be for treatment, follow-up visits, Wednesday luncheons, special events or fundraisers, it is very likely they had the pleasure of meeting David Newby and his wife, Judy. A former patient and prostate cancer survivor, David was a regular volunteer spending time every week greeting people and helping with various activities. His pleasant personality and sense of humor was contagious to everyone he met. It is with saddened hearts that we share David Newby passed away early in February at age 74.

David was an exceptional man and had an uncanny ability to find happiness in his daily activities. A lifelong Boy Scout, David enjoyed working with youth. His career was spent in the classroom as a junior high math teacher and a track, basketball and football coach.

Judy Newby, David’s wife of 54 years, remembers him as an outgoing and patient man. He was someone who could do and learn anything he set his mind to and was always willing to lend a helping hand.

In his later years, David’s diagnosis of prostate cancer led the couple back to the Jacksonville area. After researching their options and discussing with a local Panama City orthopedic doctor, who was also a former patient of UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, they decided proton therapy was the best course of action because of the precise nature of treatment and low risk of side effects.

David completed his proton therapy in early 2013. Later that year, he and Judy moved back to Jacksonville, Fla., permanently. David made the decision to dedicate himself to being a part of the nurturing health care environment at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.

“We were so impressed with the friendliness and the atmosphere during his treatments. It was unlike anything we had experienced at a health care facility and really made an impact on us. The Institute made a difficult time much better and easier than it could have been and he wanted to be a part of that for other people,” said Judy. “Volunteering was so fulfilling and always the highlight of our week. It was a way we could give back and thank them for all they’ve done for us. We also got a whole lot in return from the people we met along the way.”

We are truly grateful for David and Judy’s dedication to the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. They have impacted hundreds of lives over the years with compassion, encouragement and even a joke or two. David will truly be missed, and we hope to keep his legacy going strong by continuing to provide the level of hospitality and kindness that he gave to all.

Your Perspective Matters

Your experience at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is very important to us. During and after treatment, we want to know how you feel about the level of attention, compassion and care you receive. Your opinions shared in the post-treatment survey contribute to our continuous improvement for the good of our patients. We take pride that consistently throughout our nearly 15 years as a cancer treatment center, 99% of patients are very satisfied with the cancer care they received and 98% of patients say they would recommend us to someone they know.

Google ReviewsMany patients ask us how they can spread the word about proton therapy. One simple but very effective way is to leave a review on Google https://bit.ly/3pWKbuW. Another way is to add your name to our list of patient ambassadors who agree to serve as a reference when people are researching their treatment options. If your civic organization, club or support group is looking for a guest speaker at an upcoming meeting, let them know about our speakers’ bureau.

For additional information about being a patient ambassador or setting up a guest speaker, please contact Bradlee Robbert, Director of Operations, at (904) 588-1251.

Brittany Smith Legacy Honored

Brittany SmithThanks to the generosity of proton advocates Stan and Anne Land, we are able to honor the life and service of Brittany Smith, radiation therapist, with the creation of the Brittany Smith Professional Development Fund. Mr. and Mrs. Land thoughtfully and generously established the fund as a way of honoring the professionalism and dedication Brittany Smith brought daily to her job at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. The fund will help support ongoing training and professional development activities of the radiation therapist team.

For additional information regarding this fund, please contact Kathy Murray, Director of Development, at (904) 588-1519.

Click here to read more about Brittany Smith’s life.

Santa and Mrs. Claus Make Extraordinary Gift

While the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 prevented their customary visit to the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, “Santa” Joe McGee and “Mrs. Claus” Dawn McGee were determined to continue their mission to raise funds for children being treated for cancer. They adapted their community event appearances to safely hear children’s Christmas wishes. We are grateful for the joyful and generous spirit of Santa Joe and Mrs. Claus Dawn and their extraordinary gifts to the UFPTI for the Children Fund, which supports various pediatric programs and child life activities to help make treatment easier for even the youngest of patients.

Executive Director Message


Some of the most effective cancer interventions developed in the modern age are prevention and early detection screening. Mammograms, PSA blood screening, and colonoscopies each have a role in improving survival rates for the most common cancers – breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer, respectively. When these cancers are detected early, treatments like proton therapy lead to better outcomes for patients. During the pandemic, fewer people are having these important cancer screenings, which can delay diagnoses and lead to less favorable prognoses.

Likewise, delaying treatment after receiving a cancer diagnosis can limit the chance for effective treatment. Cancer won’t wait for COVID-19 to go away, and neither should you. At the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, we have enhanced safety precautions in place following the CDC, ASTRO and UF Health COVID-19 guidelines.

The best method to stop the devastating effects of cancer is prevention. The next best method is proton therapy.

Stuart L. Klein

Executive Director

Cancer Won’t Wait

The American Cancer Society, or ACS, is urging people not to delay cancer screening. According to a recent report on Action News Jax, the ACS says that 66% of Americans made the choice to delay or skip cancer screenings in 2020 out of anxiety about the coronavirus. Carleen Marianek, MSN, RN, interim director of nursing at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, is on the board of the local ACS and was interviewed about the need for cancer prevention and treatment and the safety protocols in place to limit the risk of coronavirus exposure.  >> Watch the report here

Interview with Carleen Marianek, MSN, RN

Over the Moon

Heather Oakley, LCSW, OSW-CHeather Oakley, LCSW, OSW-C, director of social services and pediatric oncology social worker at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, received a 2020 Over the Moon Award from Dreams Come True, a Jacksonville, Fla., nonprofit dedicated to granting the dreams of children with life-threatening illnesses.

The prestigious award recognizes medical professionals and community partners who consistently go above and beyond for the children served by Dreams Come True. In their announcement the organization said, “Heather’s welcoming smile, warm demeanor, and drive make her such an asset to the community. She works tirelessly coordinating local resources to ensure each family is supported to the fullest during their journey.” We at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute couldn’t agree more. Congratulations, Heather.


About This Newsletter

The Precision Newsletter is an electronic-only publication that is distributed by email. Each issue is sent monthly to patients, alumni patients and friends of the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute. As the official newsletter of the Institute, the content is compiled and prepared by our communications representative and approved by the editor Stuart Klein, executive director of UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. Special bulletin newsletters may occasionally be prepared when timely topics and new developments in proton therapy occur. If you would like to send a Letter to the Editor, please click here.


Keep In Touch

It is easy to stay in touch with us online at floridaproton.org . Look at the top right corner of the homepage for Facebook , Twitter and YouTube icons, click and join us in the social media conversation. Also on the right side of the homepage there is a button for VTOC Patient Portal . Click here to open your secure account, view your records, complete clinical trial questionnaires and communicate with your nurse case manager.


Knowing how you are feeling during and after treatment is essential to providing you the best care possible and contributes to the care of future patients.