Walter J. Curran, Jr., MD, executive director of Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, is the recipient of the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children’s “Visionary Award” for 2012. Curran was chosen for the award for his work at Winship on brain tumor research and for his role in helping to bring a proton beam therapy treatment center to Atlanta, scheduled to open in 2015.
The Foundation presented the honor to Curran on April 28 at a special event at the home of nationally-syndicated consumer expert Clark Howard, who hosted a fundraiser for the brain tumor group.
Curran, a radiation oncologist, has spent years studying how to best identify better treatment options for brain tumor patients and how to reduce the side-effects of radiation so critically needed for treatment. Proton beam radiation therapy is the most precise radiation therapy available and is likely to minimize damage to nearby, non-cancerous tissue. This is especially important when treating children. Because their bodies are still growing, their organs are more vulnerable to lasting damage from radiation than those of adults.
Currently, the closest proton beam therapy treatment center is in Jacksonville; only 11 are in operation in the United States. Having a facility in Atlanta will minimize the stress and costs to Atlanta families whose children suffer from brain tumors, said Mary Moore, executive director of the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children (BTFC).