MO-D-BRD-01: Memorial to Bengt Bjarngard – Memorial Lecture

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Abstract

We lost a legendary medical physicist, Dr. Bengt Erik Bjarngard, to angiosarcoma an aggressive type of cancer. He devoted his life to providing improved methods of radiation treatment for this devastating disease over the last 36 years. Bengt was born in a rural village of Bjarnum in southern Sweden, located near forest and is known for its furniture making. He migrated to USA at the age of 35 and was recruited by Dr. Samuel Hellman to lead a group of physicists that became the “mecca of medical physics” known as the Joint Center of Radiation Therapy (JCRT) at Harvard Medical School in Boston. Bengt mentored some of the best physicists in the country, and many of our modern treatments go back to the early days of research at the JCRT. These accomplishments, dating from 1969–1989, include: dose optimization using computer control; soft wedges; stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS); total-body irradiation (TBI); CT-planning; and radiation dosimetry. Bengt worked at Brown University in Rhode Island and at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where he provided major contributions in radiation dosimetry, specifically with the head scatter model. He advocated superior calculation algorithm through the Helax treatment planning system that was on par from most commercial systems. Bengt served as AAPM president in 1979 and was a recipient of the Coolidge Award in 1998. He had a lifelong love of nature, retiring in 2000 from the University of Pennsylvania to take care of his 200 acres of homestead forest in Maine. His legacy continues through his contributions to radiation dosimetry. This session, on small field dosimetry, is a small tribute to his memory. Further details can be found in his obituary in Med Phy, 41(4), 040801, 2014.

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