Neurosurgery team treats 5,000th patient with UF-invented radiosurgery system

Doctors Bova and Friedman
(From left) Frank Bova, Ph.D. and William Friedman, M.D.

In the mid-1980s, UF neurosurgeon William A. Friedman, M.D., and medical physicist Frank J. Bova, Ph.D., began looking into a lesser-known treatment technique called radiosurgery. After studying then-available technologies, Bova and Friedman came to believe that the existing systems were not only cost prohibitive but also did not take advantage of the newest technologies in radiation delivery or computer processing.

One of the first people brought onto their team was computer programmer Russell Moore. The team believed that then-state-of-the-art radiation therapy devices, called linear accelerators, did not have sufficient accuracy to carry out the precise targeting that would be needed by the new computer-generated optimized treatments they were developing.

Bova and Friedman designed a new system to increase the accuracy of radiation beam delivery more than tenfold. Once designed, the new system was fabricated within the machine shops on the ground floor of UF Health Shands Hospital. Armed with their new computer planning system and a highly accurate radiation delivery device, the rest of the clinical team was assembled. On May 18, 1988, the University of Florida Radiosurgery Program treated their first patient.

Today, 32 years, eight patents and over 175 peer-reviewed publications later, the current faculty team of neurosurgeons Friedman and Kelly Foote, M.D.; radiation oncologists Robert Amdur, M.D., and Anamaria R Yeung, M.D.; medical physicists Bova, Didier Rajon, Ph.D., and Jonathan Li, Ph.D.; and Moore, the computer programmer, treated UF Radiosurgery’s 5,000th patient.

The initial system design was licensed from the UF Research Foundation and served as the basis for the first Food and Drug Administration-cleared linear accelerator radiosurgery system. The design criteria, the accuracy of radiation beam delivery and the advanced programming techniques that were developed, while initially met with skepticism, have become the founding principles used by almost all commercial radiosurgery systems sold today.

Read more about the invention.