Executive Director Message


StuartKlein.pngAs leaders in radiation oncology, the University of Florida had the vision to bring proton therapy to the region. Our medical director Nancy P. Mendenhall, M.D., was the radiation oncology department chair at the time and proton therapy was her answer to the big question: what can we do to improve patient care? In radiation oncology, improvement means giving the most radiation possible to achieve a cure while reducing, or eliminating, the amount of collateral damage to healthy tissue. With this goal in mind, our facility was developed as a regional resource for patient care and research. We stand as one of the most successful proton therapy centers in operation – one that emphasizes excellence in patient care and in academic medicine to bring about improvements in patient outcomes.


Stuart L. Klein

Executive Director

Celebrating 12 Years of Proton Therapy Excellence

Celebrating 12 years of Proton Therapy Excellence

The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute treated its first patient on August 14, 2006, becoming the fifth proton therapy center in the U.S. and the first in the Southeast. Established as an academic clinical treatment and research center, the Institute during its first 12 years has rapidly made a significant impact on patient care and proton therapy techniques used to treat cancer.

Pediatric patients have been a major focus since day one. It is now widely recognized that proton therapy is the standard of care for children needing radiation treatment for cancer. Because proton therapy is targeted, less radiation is given to the healthy tissues of children who are still growing and are more susceptible to side effects of radiation. The Institute has the largest pediatric proton therapy program in the world, treating about 25 to 30 children each day.

As a regional resource, the Institute has treated more than 7,700 patients since opening, including 1,600 children. Patients have come from the Jacksonville area, all 50 states and 32 countries for the advanced radiation treatment delivered by the renowned team of cancer experts at the University of Florida.

The Institute is active in clinical research, and 98 percent of patients participate in outcomes studies. This rigorous follow-up has resulted in more than 133 articles published in peer-reviewed medical journals. The evidence points to an important role for proton therapy in treating cancer and confirms it is effective, safe and reduces side effects for many types of cancer.

This year, the Institute is heading up a national, large-scale prostate cancer clinical trial that will compare proton therapy and standard radiation patient outcomes. Later this fall, the facility expansion project will reach a major milestone when the new cyclotron arrives. This addition, when complete, will mean more access to proton therapy for patients across the region for years to come.

Expertise in Proton Therapy – R. Charles Nichols, M.D.

One of our expert physicians is R. Charles Nichols, M.D., radiation oncologist and UF Department of Radiation Oncology associate professor. He was interviewed recently about proton therapy, the benefits of proton therapy for prostate cancer patients, and more. He describes clinical research outcomes and how the treatment experience at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is an international model for patient care. To learn more, watch the video below.


UF Breaks Record For Research Awards

UF Breaks Record For Research Awards

The University of Florida received a record $837.6 million in research funding in fiscal year 2018, surpassing the previous record set in fiscal 2016 by nearly 16 percent. Federal government funds accounted for the majority of the increase with additional funding coming from foundations, non-profits, industry and the State of Florida.

Notably, the College of Medicine is the largest recipient of research funding bringing in 42 percent of UF’s total. The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute was among the research programs that received significant new funding in fiscal year 2018. Under the leadership of Medical Director Nancy P. Mendenhall, M.D., the Institute was awarded $11.9 million by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute for a large-scale clinical study on prostate cancer comparing the effectiveness of proton therapy and standard radiation. The project will compare 1,500 patients treated with proton therapy and 1,500 patients treated with standard radiation therapy at 42 treatment centers across the U.S.

“These record-shattering numbers reflect the growing prestige and reputation of the University of Florida as a research powerhouse,” said David Norton, UF’s vice president for research. “Each award represents targeted funding for UF faculty to advance the boundaries of discovery and knowledge in fields ranging from health care to engineering to understanding the fundamental nature of our universe. The record amount of total funding is also testament to the significant investment the state has made in UF over the past decade, which has enabled us to attract, retain and support outstanding research faculty across the institution.”

Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® Classic Opens Registration

Steve Spurrier
Steve Spurrier,
Honorary Chairman
University of Florida Ambassador

The 14th Annual Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® Classic is registering players and seeking sponsors for the October 8 event. The tournament is being held at the renowned Slammer & Squire golf course at the World Golf Village, St. Augustine, Fla. Honorary Chair Steve Spurrier, Gator Great and one of four people elected to the College Football Hall of Fame as a player and as a coach, invites you to join him in supporting UF Health Proton Therapy Institute’s clinical research program.

“As honorary chair of this year’s tournament, I’m proud of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and the work they have been doing to provide the best possible treatment for cancer patients and to define, through research, the best roles and methods of proton therapy,” said Spurrier.

The Institute currently has 21 active clinical studies. Importantly, approximately 98 percent of patients participate in a registry study to track outcomes following treatment and 31 percent of patients are enrolled in clinical trials, while the national average of clinical trial participation is 3 percent. Your support ensures the continued growth of the clinical research program, gathering data that is necessary to advance the understanding of proton therapy.

“Our primary missions at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute are clinical care and clinical research,” said Nancy P. Mendenhall, M.D., medical director. “Our purpose is to give patients the best quality cancer treatment. We invest heavily in research because we want to see a day when all patients with cancer are cured and none are burdened with side effects of treatment.”

To participate and for more information, visit www.playgolffightcancer.org.


Executive Director Message


StuartKlein.pngProton therapy continues to expand in the U.S. Back in 2006 when we opened, we were the fifth facility to operate in the U.S. Today there are now 27 proton facilities scattered across the country with even more being considered. What makes us different? In short, I believe it’s our people. We have approximately 220 employees that work in our center. Each represents the best and the brightest with an unquestioning dedication to provide our patients with the best care possible. This is engrained in our DNA. We constantly work hard to achieve this goal, and are grateful for the opportunity to serve our patients on their journey in beating cancer. We’re always open to suggestions on how to improve our service. Please let us know if there’s anything you feel we could do to improve.


Stuart L. Klein

Executive Director

Sarcoma Awareness


July is Sarcoma Awareness Month and Michael Rutenberg, MD, PhD, UF Health Proton Therapy Institute radiation oncologist and UF Department of Radiation Oncology assistant professor, was interviewed on First Coast Living about this rare cancer of the soft tissue and proton therapy’s role in treatment of the malignancy. As with other cancers treated with proton therapy, sarcoma patients can benefit from the targeted dose and reduced side effects. To learn more, watch the video below.


Survivor Spotlight – Kathleen Patti

By BeckyLynn Schroeder

Discovering a world beyond cancer treatment

Survivor Kathleen PattiProton alum Kathleen Patti, age 22, is discovering a world beyond treatment for rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare tumor of the soft tissues. Read more about her cancer treatment here. As a student at her “dream school,” Florida State University, she is enrolled in the university’s prestigious communications program and has plans to travel the world.

“The past will always shape who I am but I’m also at a weird point in my life. I’m eight years cancer free and, even with twice-a-year routine scans and tests, I’m also just starting to feel more and more like there’s a whole other world after treatment and an endless number of paths I can explore.”

Among the paths she envisions exploring are enrolling in a study abroad program and landing a “dream job” as a host on a Travel Channel program.

Growing up with cancer, Kathleen got to be comfortable with her “cancer path” and wants to hold on to what she has learned by helping others who are undergoing cancer treatment. This summer, she is working as an intern for the Live for Today Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Jacksonville, Florida, whose mission is to offer help and support to young adults ages 18-35 with cancer. Kathleen joined the organization herself when she turned 18 and was experiencing a rough transition to an adult system from the pediatric health team she’d been working with since she was seven years old.

“Cancer is a weird thing. After going through it, it’s like you meet the one group of people that you never really wanted to know but, looking back, can’t imagine your life without,” Kathleen said. “The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute still stands out as one of the favorite places I went throughout my whole cancer experience. Everyone was so helpful and kind and it continues to be one of the happiest memories of my treatment.”

UF Promotes Two Radiation Oncologists

Dr. Julie Bradley and Dr. Roi Dagan

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

Julie A. Bradley, MD, and Roi Dagan, MD, MS, have been promoted to the rank of associate professor by the UF College of Medicine. “This is a very well-deserved promotion for both of them that reflects their distinction in clinical accomplishments, research and education,” said Nancy Mendenhall, MD, UF Health Proton Therapy Institute medical director and UF Department of Radiation Oncology professor and associate chair.

Dr. Bradley specializes in breast cancer and pediatric cancers. She leads the breast cancer program at the Institute and is the principal investigator on multiple breast cancer clinical trials. Her research in the use of proton therapy for breast cancer has demonstrated its effectiveness in controlling the disease while reducing radiation to the heart and lungs.

Dr. Dagan specializes in head and neck cancers and eye cancers. He directs the head and neck program at the Institute and has presented his research at many international medical conferences. His patient outcomes studies established early evidence that proton therapy improves local control of advanced sinonasal cancers and reduces the loss of vision and other serious side effects.

Rockin’ Out

By Pamela Gardener

Painted RocksThe Arts in Medicine program at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute (UFHPTI) has developed a unique version of the rock painting craze in a new, dual-purpose project.

For the uninitiated, the international trend of painting rocks and hiding them in public places for strangers to find is meant to “cultivate connections within communities and lift others up through simple acts of kindness,” according to the website of the original project founder Megan Murphy.

For our project, after scrubbing and bleaching river rocks, they are painted with a variety of images such as penguins, owls, ladybugs and cats. Inspiring words such as hope, love and strength are also painted on some of the golf ball-size rocks.

The hashtag #UFHPTI is painted on the bottom of each rock and then the artists – patients and their families – are encouraged to take them to their home state or country. A quick photo and post on Facebook or Twitter will let the world know how far the rocks have travelled. A short description of patients’ stories are encouraged as an interesting addition to their post. Be sure to include the hashtag #UFHPTI and tag our official Facebook and Twitter pages. The rocks can then be kept as a souvenir or hidden for someone else to discover and to learn about the UFHPTI program.

The second part of the project will stay closer to home. It will be a part of UFHPTI’s front yard, to be exact. Larger rocks are supplied for painting in the same fashion as the little ones, but they will serve more as a memorial and testimony to each patient’s strength and fortitude while receiving cancer treatment.

These rocks will be offered for painting to patients, family members, caregivers and staff. Once painted, they will cover an unadorned square of space surrounding a small palm tree in the courtyard. The plan is to fill the square with bright, hopeful colors to embrace the remembrances of friendships made during treatment.

The Arts in Medicine program seeks to enhance patient care with targeted projects to alleviate stress and provide a sense of well-being while undergoing cancer treatment.


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.