The Path to Proton

Milestones in Radiation Oncology

Excellence in proton therapy emanates from excellence in all areas of radiation oncology. Our National Proton Center is built upon a strong history of breakthrough discoveries and scientific ingenuity.

Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center

Johns Hopkins is among the first to be designated a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute. Medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, oncology nurses, researchers and other specialists work together to advance cancer treatment and research.

Radiation oncology broke off from the Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences and joined forces with the Department of Oncology to make progress against a growing cancer epidemic.


A specialty cancer program for pediatric patients is established. The National Cancer Institute appoints Kimmel Cancer Center radiation oncologist to two national study groups investigating childhood cancer.


Johns Hopkins’ program was viewed as one of the few strong academic programs in radiation oncology in the U.S. This expertise attracted so many patients, the radiation oncology clinic had to expand to twice its original size to accommodate the growing patient load.


A Kimmel Cancer Center radiation oncologist is named director of the radiation oncology committee of the Pediatric Oncology Group, a position he held for 10 years. He was among the first to study toxicities and late effects of radiation therapy on pediatric patients.


Our radiation oncology experts become the first in the region to perform stereotactic brain surgery, a computer-generated surgery performed without knives, in order to destroy deep-seated tumors and blood vessel malformations in the brain.


A new treatment delivers radioactive “seeds” into the airways, extending life for inoperable lung cancer patients. The same type of therapy, now known as brachytherapy, is used to treat prostate and gynecologic cancers.


Investigators discover that chemotherapy and radiation therapy administered prior to surgery improve success rates in some cancer patients.


The Kimmel Cancer Center becomes one of the first in the nation to use a 3D radiation simulation for more precisely planned radiation therapy.


A combined chemotherapy/radiation regimen preserves the voice box for many laryngeal cancer patients with success rates equal to surgical removal of the voice box and significant improvement in quality of life.


The Department of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences is established.


The Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy Program began to deliver high-precision radiation that conforms to the three-dimensional shapes of tumors and delivers higher and well-defined doses of radiation to tumors, and even specific areas within tumors, while minimizing radiation to surrounding normal tissue.


Miniature versions of the equipment used to treat patients are created to perform never-before-done animal research models. These models allow researchers to study the best ways to target radiation-based treatments to tumors and, at the same time, prevent damage to normal cells.

cancer cells

Research reveals that lower doses of radiation may kill more cancer cells byeluding a protein called ATM, a damage detection mechanism for cancer cells.

Science Watch newsletter dubs the Kimmel Cancer Center a “cancer research powerhouse,” as its research is the most often cited in all of cancer research worldwide.


The stereotactic body radiation therapy program starts. This knifeless surgery uses highly focused beams of radiation to ablate tumors.


Molecular Radiation Sciences research accelerated to decipher the biology of DNA damage response to radiation therapy and how cells sense and repair this damage.

Research showed that men whose tumors recurred after prostate cancer surgery are three times more likely to survive their disease long term if they underwent radiation therapy within two years of the recurrence.


A computer-assisted version of brachytherapy, a prostate cancer therapy that uses radioactive seeds inserted in the prostate to kill cancer cells, is developed. The innovation allows for more precise placement of seeds. An even more precise version followed, using an MRI-assisted robotic needle to accurately insert the seeds.


A technique to keep normal and cancerous tissue surgically removed from the prostate alive and functioning for up to a week is developed to allow investigators to test anticancer therapies on live tissue.

Sibley Memorial Hospital

Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., becomes part of the Johns Hopkins Health System.


Our experts led the first-ever, in-depth, scientifically based safety analysis of radiation oncology and reported that a combination of approximately six common quality assurance measures could have prevented more than 90 percent of the potential incidents.


A new, never-described compound known as BMH-21 destroyed critical communication between cancer cells and the POLI pathway, necessary for cancer cell survival.


The Johns Hopkins application to build the largest and one of the most advanced proton therapy centers in the country is approved.


An interdisciplinary research collaboration reveals that testosterone, a hormone prostate cancer cells need to survive, can also form breaks in the DNA that would make cancer cells more vulnerable to treatment with radiation therapy.

Kimmel Cancer Center pediatric patient

A unique collaboration between our Department of Radiation Oncology at Sibley and Children’s National pediatric cancer center results in the first dedicated pediatric radiation oncology program in the national capital region. It brings together pediatric medical and surgical oncology experts from Children’s National and pediatric radiation oncology experts from the Kimmel Cancer Center to provide comprehensive pediatric cancer care, including clinical trials, to patients in the region.

Stereotactic radiotherapy is shown to augment immune response in pancreatic cancer patients.

Howard University

The Kimmel Cancer Center at Sibley partners with United Medical Center and Howard University to bring cancer care to the most underserved Washington, D.C., neighborhoods.


The Kimmel Cancer Center at Sibley Memorial Hospital opens adding medical oncology and surgical oncology to the already established and growing radiation oncology program. The 36,000-square-foot facility brings patients the most advanced radiation therapy technologies, latest techniques and innovative treatments—the same techniques and technologies used throughout the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.


A pioneering new therapy uses CT- and MRI-guided brachytherapy to treat cervical cancer and other gynecologic cancers.


U.S. News & World Report continues to rank the Kimmel Cancer Center as one of the top cancer hospitals in the nation and the top-ranked center in the mid-Atlantic region. Our pediatric oncology program is also ranked among the top five in the nation.


The Johns Hopkins National Proton Center opens, bringing the most advancedproton technology, expertise and research to the region.