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Founded in 1896, the University of California, Irvine (UCI) School of Medicine is the oldest operating medical school in the greater Los Angeles area.

Spearheaded by Dr. Steven Armentrout who was chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at the time, the UCI Program in Oncology was rewarded a substantial grant by the National Cancer Institute to initiate a specialized cancer center in 1978. The mission of this center was to recruit physicians and scientists of various academic disciplines (College of Medicine, the School of Biological Sciences, the School of Physical Sciences, the Department of Information and Computer Sciences, and other academic units) to identify research efforts that already existed at UCI in the fields of carcinogenesis and cell regulation.

In an effort to advance the Department of Radiological Sciences and its Division of Therapeutic Radiology, Drs. Martin Colman and John Redpath were recruited to UCI in the late 1970s. Prior to joining UCI, Dr. Colman acted as Director of Radiation Oncology and attending physician of Nuclear Medicine at Michael Reese Hospital and the University of Chicago. Awarded several National Institute of Health (NIH) Grants, Dr. Redpath had previously served as faculty at Michael Reese Hospital studying sensitization of cancer cells to radiation. Working together, these two were the early leaders of the Division of Therapeutic Radiology (of the Department of Radiological Sciences) at UCI.

By 1992, several hundreds of patients per year within the Orange County area were being treated with radiation therapy. However, Dr. Colman had ambitious plans to modernize the technology used at UCI. At the time, 1 to 10 MeV x-rays were considered outdated and Dr. Colman advocated for newer, more powerful (15 to 35 MeV x-rays/electrons) treatment and research facilities. Supporting this goal, the Department of Radiation Oncology was established in 1994 with Dr. Colman serving as its first chair.

Shortly before, Dr. Frank Meyskens was recruited from the University of Arizona to UCI in 1989 with the goal of establishing UCI as Orange County’s only NCI-designated Cancer Center. Due to the efforts of pioneers such as Dr. Colman to tie clinical care and research together, UCI received the prestigious “comprehensive” NCI-designation in 1994 and was the fifth center designated in California. This NCI designation prompted the philanthropist Allen Chao and his family to provide a substantial donation to the UCI Cancer Center which was renamed the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center (CFCCC) in 1995. In October 2013, Dr. Richard Van Etten was recruited from Tufts University to be the director of the CFCCC.

Aspiring to further advance the field of radiation oncology at UCI, the CFCCC recruited Dr. Allen Chen in 2018 as the Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology. Previously serving as Chair at the University of Kansas and Vice Chair of Research and Education at UCLA, Dr. Chen is a recognized leader in the specialty and set out to elevate the Department to world-class status through increased investment in research and education, as well as through the recruitment of talented faculty and the development of new cutting-edge clinical programs.

In early 2021, plans were officially announced for the planning of a new health sciences complex to be located in the Newport/Irvine area adjacent to the University. The Department of Radiation Oncology expects to be a major part of this expansion and looks forward to moving into a new facility in 2023.

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Department of Radiation Oncology

UCI Medical Center

  • UCI Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

    101 The City Drive, Bldg. 23, Orange
    CA 92868-3298
    Fax: (714) 456-7170
  • UCI Health
  • UC Irvine Health School of Medicine
  • University of California Irvine