Our Team Today
The Director of RDS is Rebecca Howell, Ph.D. The RDS has highly qualified and very dedicated faculty and staff, many of whom have worked at RDS for over thirty years. In total, the RDS has 22 faculty and staff members including medical physicists, medical dosimetrists, computational scientists, research technicians, radiological technicians, as well as accounting and administrative staff. We collaborate closely with the other sections within MD Anderson Outreach Physics, namely the Imaging and Radiation Oncology Core (IROC) Houston QA Center and the MD Anderson Accredited Dosimetry Calibration Laboratory.
Nearly 50 years ago, in 1968, the Texas Regional Medical Physicists (TRMP) program began under the leadership of Robert Shalek, Ph.D. The TRMP was formed to help its member physicists by providing for-fee services such as mailed TLD output checks, dosimetry review visits, computer calculation of dose distributions for patients, mailed films to check light localizers, loan of equipment, etc. In addition to the TRMP, in 1974, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) funded the six Centers for Radiological Physics (CRP). It was natural for Shalek to apply for one of the CRP contracts since his TRMP already had the expertise and logistical organization to provide services. He was awarded the Southern CRP contract to provide QA audit services to centers in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama participating in the NCI’s Cancer Control Program. Most of the services provided by the TRMP for a fee were now offered to other centers as a part of the CRP under the Directorship of Shalek and Associate Director, Marilyn Stovall, Ph.D..
Fiscal austerity in the federal government in 1985 had a severe effect on the NCI’s clinical trial program and specifically on the associated QA programs. In 1985, the CRP contracts were terminated. Shalek and Stovall decided at that time to continue to offer services for a fee to radiotherapy facilities not monitored by the Radiological Physics Center. This new for-fee service was named the MD Anderson Radiation Dosimetry Services. Stovall was appointed the Director of RDS soon after its formation in January 1986 after Shalek retired. Stovall led the RDS for 30 years until she retired in 2015. During those 30 years, the number of customers serviced by RDS grew dramatically both domestically and internationally. Upon Dr. Stovall’s retirement, David Followill, Ph.D. was appointed to be RDS’ Director and Rebecca Howell, Ph.D. as the Associate Director. After serving as the Associate Director of RDS for one year, Howell was promoted to Director in 2016. Followill continues in his role as Director of IROC Houston and Section Chief of Outreach Physics.
RDS has provided beam output checks to over 2000 radiotherapy centers and blood irradiator dose verification services to more than 200 blood centers worldwide.