H. Rodney Withers, DSc, MD, an emeritus member of the AACR, died February 25, 2015, at the age of 82. Withers, an internationally renowned, clinically oriented radiation oncologist, was professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Withers became an AACR member in 1992, serving on the international affairs and radiobiology/radiation oncology committees, and as an associate editor of Cancer Research.
Born Sept. 21, 1932, in Queensland, Australia, Withers received his medical degree from the University of Queensland, and his doctoral degree from London University in the United Kingdom. He served as a visiting resident scientist at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, where he helped develop a method to measure survival of intestinal stem cells following radiation exposure.
Withers then joined the faculty at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where he served as head of the Department of Experimental Radiotherapy. He focused his research on the scheduling of radiation treatments, and suggested that altering schedules for various cancers, particularly those of the head and neck, could improve treatment outcomes, which was confirmed in randomized clinical trials in the 1980s and 1990s.
At UCLA, Withers continued his research into different treatment schedules and evaluated the effects of accelerated tumor repopulation in head and neck cancers. His work led to additional clinical trials that demonstrated that an accelerated treatment was superior to conventional treatment for head and neck cancers.
He was recognized throughout his career with myriad honors, including the Radiation Research Society Failla Award and Gold Medal, the Kaplan Award, the Gray Medal, the Enrico Fermi Award, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists Gold Medal, the Charles F. Kettering Medal, the American College of Radiology Gold Medal, and the Radiological Society of North America Gold Medal.