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Melvin A. Astrahan

Last updated 10/07/2021

Following his retirement from the Department of Radiation Oncology as Chief of Medical Physics in 2010, Professor Emeritus Melvin Astrahan, Ph.D. has continued to support the ocular melanoma program by donating his time and expertise to assure the success of his colleagues in the Departments of Ophthalmology and Radiation Oncology.

During his 26 years at the USC Norris Cancer Center, Professor Astrahan designed and developed software and eye plaque techniques which employ miniature radiation sources to target cancer cells within the eye. His method uses 3D modeling to optimize the delivery of therapeutic radiation to the tumor while sparing the surrounding healthy tissues of the eye. His cancer treatment method is utilized currently by the USC Norris Cancer Center and many institutions around the world.

Professor Astrahan is a tireless teacher to all of the residents and fellows, as well as the nurses and visiting medical students; and he is very enthusiastic about teaching junior physicists. His commitment to the success of the ocular oncology program at USC includes volunteering his time to attend all of the plaque cases in order to provide guidance and support to Dr. Jonathan Kim, Director of Ocular Oncology, and Dr. Jesse Berry. He prepares all of the radiation treatment plans for USC’s eye cancer patients using the software that he created and continues to enhance. Even now, he is collaborating with Drs. Kim and Berry to further enhance the accuracy of the treatment planning software by incorporating toric angle marking devices that have recently become available.

Beyond being one of the most knowledgeable radiation physicists in the field of ocular oncology, Professor Astrahan is also a keen horseman. He has competed at a national level in high-speed mounted marksmanship contests since 1992. He has also appeared in the Pasadena New Year’s Day Rose Parade as a knight in shining armor for his fraternal organization the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs, and in historical reenactments such as the battle at Little Bighorn in Montana where he has served as guidon for George A. Custer.
It is with great pride that the USC Emeriti Center celebrates Professor Emeritus Melvin Astrahan’s service to USC after retirement with the Paul E. Hadley Award.