History of the Harvard Radiation Oncology Program


The educational philosophy of the Harvard Radiation Oncology Program can be broken down into four principles:

  • To provide comprehensive clinical education using the large patient population and specialist faculty available at the MGH and Longwood
  • To provide training in cancer and radiation biology and medical physics that goes beyond the requirements of the board exam
  • To develop clinical, translational and/or basic science research skills through mentored and protected research time
  • To develop future leaders in academic medicine through this clinical training, research opportunities and graded responsibility within the program

The resources of Harvard Medical School and our affiliated hospitals together with the talents of our faculty are, we believe, an unparalleled resource.  They provide residents with an opportunity to build a strong foundation in both academic and clinical radiation therapy.

The training program consists of four years, which include three clinical years organized into 10 week rotation periods at our member hospitals including the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI), Children’s Hospital (CH), Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and one research year.

A mainstay of our training program is the morning conference where residents discuss the clinical management of patients and the application of the medical literature to medical decision making.  We also offer periodic seminars in biology, clinical physics and treatment planning.  Each year, residents will prepare and prepare a one-hour seminar on a topic of their choice with tutorial assistance from faculty members.  Annual didactic courses covering clinical topics, radiation physics, and radiation and cancer biology are an integral part of our program.

In every aspect of our residency, the faculties are guided by the belief that we must simultaneously provide both outstanding training experiences and superior patient care. Our goal is to educate the next generation of world-class clinicians, physician-scientists and leaders.  We are proud of the training program we offer and our long tradition of graduating radiation oncologists that have served as leaders for our profession.  I hope you will consider our program for your education.


The program’s primary aims are:

  1. To train outstanding clinicians. Faculty identified this as our highest priority and it was particularly emphasized by our graduates in community practice.
  2. To develop the next generation of academic investigators. We encourage the entire spectrum from bench research, through novel technology, clinical trials, to policy and economics. We do not emphasize or value one over another.
  3. To nurture the next generation of leaders. Harvard radiation oncology graduates currently occupy 16 academic chair positions, and several have been presidents of the specialty’s national society and trustees of the American Board of Radiology.