Susanna Soon-Chun Park, a professor of ophthalmology in the UC Davis Health System Eye Center, is the recipient of the 2011 Joan Oettinger Memorial Award for her cutting-edge research into the use of radiotherapy as a treatment for ocular melanoma and other eye conditions.
Park was honored for her successful research and implementation of the treatment of patients who have tumors in their eyes with proton beam irradiation — a therapeutic intervention in which a focused radiation beam is delivered into the patient’s eye.
“I am truly honored and humbled by this honor," Park said. “Our work on proton beam irradiation to treat eye disease represents a collaborative effort among members of the Crocker Nuclear Laboratory at UC Davis, Department of Radiation Oncology at UC San Francisco and the UC Davis Health System Eye Center."
Park said she shares the honor with numerous colleagues at those institutions.
UC Davis is one of only six institutions nationwide to offer the therapy for ocular melanomas and retinoblastoma. Treatment is delivered at the Crocker Nuclear Laboratory at UC Davis. The laboratory receives regional, national and international referrals. The proton beam treatment also has shown promise as a new adjunct treatment for exudative macular degeneration.
“Dr. Park’s innovative collaborative research in the application of proton beam technology is only one example of her fine work,” said Mark Mannis, chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and director of the eye center. “She is working on what will likely be significant contributions to the application of stem cell technology to diseases of the macula.”
Park received her medical and her doctoral degrees from Yale University and completed her residency at Harvard Medical School.
The Oettinger memorial award, which is to be given during the UC Davis School of Medicine Spring Faculty Meeting on May 25, recognizes a UC Davis graduate student who died of lung cancer in July 1970. Her husband, Martin, was a senior lecturer in economics at UC Davis before his death in 1986. The award recipient receives a stipend of $1,200. The award is given annually for outstanding research in cancer and or lung disease.