Luther W. Brady, MD, FASTRO
By Lydia Komarnicky, MD
Luther Brady, MD, passed away at the age of 92 on Friday, July 13, at Hahnemann University Hospital, where he practiced for more than half a century. Surrounded by his friends, family, colleagues and residents, it was a painful goodbye for us. Dr. Brady was a physician with an extraordinary range of interests, a pioneer in his field, an extraordinary clinician and researcher and an educator. I am personally grateful we were able to dedicate the Radiation Oncology Department at Hahnemann to Dr. Brady this past year.
Dr. Brady was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and received his bachelor’s degree in zoology and his medical degree from the George Washington University. His internship and internal medicine training were at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital; he considered the time spent at Jefferson an important hallmark in his career. He subsequently served in the United States Navy during the Korean War, where he spent time at the United States Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. There he managed the nuclear medicine program for a year and served his remaining tour of duty on a cruiser operating out of Yokosuka, Japan. After the war, Dr. Brady returned to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital to train in radiology but radiation oncology sparked his interest. He changed institutions, landing a residency and later faculty appointment in radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. Ultimately, he came to Hahnemann Hospital in 1959 as associate professor of radiology and, in 1970, was appointed Chair of Radiation Oncology and Nuclear Medicine. He stepped down as chair in 1996, having built a distinguished tenure in the department reputed for teaching excellence and innovative approaches. Almost his entire academic career has been in Philadelphia. In 1975, he was named the Hylda Cohn/American Cancer Society Professor of Clinical Oncology. Hahnemann recognized his enormous professional commitment and dedication by establishing the Luther W. Brady Pavilion in 1980. Later, the Luther Brady Professorship was developed in 1996. He was named distinguished university professor in 2002, and director of radiation oncology research. Dr. Brady was named director of medical research at Philadelphia Cyber Knife in Havertown, Pennsylvania, and was the original founder of the center.
Very few physicians in radiation oncology have the depth and breadth of involvement in education, research and clinical skills that he possessed. During his career, he had served in esteemed positions of every major professional society related to the field, including American College of Radiology (founding president), American Cancer Society–Philadelphia division, American Radium Society, American College of Radiation Oncology (founding president), American Board of Radiology (also serving as examiner and residency review committee member), Radiological Society of North America and Philadelphia Roentgen Ray Society. Dr. Brady served as Vice-chair of RTOG and chair of standards and quality committee, quality control committee and a member of the executive committee. He also served on numerous committees at Drexel University College of Medicine, as well as Hahnemann Hospital. Dr. Brady also served on numerous international committees, including the International Hyperthermia Society, Austrian Society for Radio-oncology/biology and physics, International Society for Radiation Oncology and the Multi-disciplinary International Rectal Cancer Society (founding member).
Since his time at Hahnemann, he has been consistently recognized as an excellent and dedicated physician, educator, researcher, writer, visionary, art enthusiast and supporter of the arts in Philadelphia and beyond. He has been awarded 24 medals nationally and internationally, receiving the AMA Distinguished Service Award Gold Medal from the American Medical Association in 1999, Strittmatter Award from the Philadelphia County Medical Society (one of the most illustrious honors given for high achievement in the field of medicine) in 1999, a Lifetime of Service award from the American Board of Radiology in 2010, the Cristol Award from the Philadelphia County Medical Society in 2011 and the President’s Medal from the George Washington University in 2015. He received the ASTRO Gold Medal in 1987.
He has presented more than 20 honorary lectureships and has numerous honorary degrees, including those from Lehigh University, Colgate University, Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University, Heidelberg University, George Washington University, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and, more recently, an honorary doctorate from Complutense University in Madrid in 2016. Dr. Brady was cited as Who’s Who in Philadelphia, Who’s Who in International Medicine, Who’s Who in Frontier Science and Technology, Who’s Who in American Art, Best Doctors in America, Top Docs in Philadelphia and others.
As one of the most prolific investigators in the history of radiation oncology, his publications have ranged from tumors of the eye, to the more common cancers of the breast, lung and prostate. In the past year, the Brady-Shields Endowed Chair at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia was established in recognition of the national and international impact this team has made on ocular oncology. Their collective contributions in research and treatment of ocular cancers have brought transformational advances in eye preservation and restoration of vision to countless individuals.
Dr. Brady has more than 800 publications to his credit and was co-editor of his landmark textbook, Principles and Practices of Radiation Oncology, now in its sixth edition. Dr. Brady was editor of Wiley Series in Diagnostic and Therapeutic Radiology, Cancer Management Series, Radiation Oncology: Management Decisions, Radiation Therapy for Non-malignant Disorders amongst other textbooks. He has written many articles and book chapters on I-125 monoclonal antibodies in the treatment of high-grade gliomas. Dr. Brady was editor-in-chief of American Journal of Clinical Oncology and senior editor of International Journal of Radiation Oncology●Biology●Physics, senior editor of Radiation Brachytherapy, and Radiation Oncology Investigations, member of the editorial review panel of Oncology and Biotech News, lead editor of the Encyclopedia of Radiation Oncology.
During his tenure in Philadelphia, his involvement in the arts has been equally passionate. He worked on behalf of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and was Chair of the executive committee. In 1996, the Luther W. Brady Curatorship of Japanese Art was established. He loved music and opera and served on the board of directors of the Philadelphia Opera Company, Settlement Music School, Curtis Institute and Philadelphia Orchestra. Dr. Brady’s support of the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery at the George Washington University helped attract internationally recognized artists. His gifts to the university will be enjoyed by generations. His interest in the arts counterbalanced his long hours in the clinic, lab and teaching students and residents. “The humanities.” he once said, “have provided a means of keeping the world in perspective. Physicians burn out easily if they don’t have outside interests. We get so involved that sometimes we forget the bigger picture.”
It is impossible to cover every aspect of this great man’s career spanning more than 50 years. We will remember Dr. Brady’s many contributions with a mixture of awe and admiration. At Hahnemann, he will always be remembered as “Uncle Luther” and we will be the “Brady Bunch.” Rest in peace, dear friend.
Dr. Brady is survived by his nephew, Theodore Yaeger, MD, a radiation oncologist in Daytona Beach, Florida; a niece, Chris Trimble, and four grandnephews and one grandniece.