History of the Harvard Radiation Oncology Program
The Harvard Radiation Oncology Program (HROP) resulted from the joining of the two established residency programs at Harvard Medical School: the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and the Joint Center for Radiation Therapy (JCRT) program in the Longwood Area. Each had a long history of tradition and achievement and the union brought together these strengths.
In 2001, Partners requested that the MGH and Brigham and Women’s radiation oncology training programs be merged. It was decided to fully merge the MGH and JCRT Longwood entities to create a Harvard-wide program. In responding to the Partners’ request for a merged training program, Drs. Jay Loeffler and Jay Harris, the two Chairs, wrote “We believe that by combining two of the most respected training programs in the country, we will have, without question, the most competitive and effective training program in this country.” The leadership of HROP sought to maintain the unique characteristics of the individual programs, while at the same time creating a sense of unity and camaraderie among the residents and faculty through joint academic and social events and a thorough combined curriculum.
It was decided that the united program would have a single Program Director (currently Dr. Anthony Zietman) and, given its large size, Associate and Assistant Program Directors on each side of town. In addition we have an Executive Committee that oversees major strategicy and policy issues, and a Program Evaluation Committee, that sets out improvement goals each year. .
HROP was approved for a total of up to 30 residents over the 4 years of training, the largest in the country. The first HROP entering class was in 2003-04. By 2006-07, all 4 classes in the training program were HROP residents.
For many years residents also rotated to Boston Medical Center and to the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital. The institutions are no longer part of the program and we have a more compact and streamlined training centered around the MGH and Brigham/Dana Farber. Research opportunities for residents, however, remain available across the entire Harvard and MIT systems.
HROP’s mission is to train the future leaders in oncology. Residents need to have a commitment to specialized training in laboratory, translational, clinical, or health services research. In a survey of academic training program directors and chairs in Radiation Oncology published in 2013, Harvard was listed as having generated 13 chairs and 7 program directors. This number is likely higher by now! The next closest program had 3 chairs and 5 program directors. (Ref: Wilson, L, Haffty B, Smith B A profile of Academic Training Program Directors and Chairs in Radiation Oncology Int J Radiation Oncol Biol Phys 2013: 85, 1168-1171).