Persistence and the Quest for Innovation Guided a Radiotherapy Pioneer

Brielle Urciuoli
Published: Monday, May 07, 2018
Herman D. Suit, MD, MSc, PhD

Herman D. Suit, MD, MSc, PhD
As he was growing up, Herman D. Suit, MD, MSc, PhD, took to heart his mother’s advice: “If you really want something, ask for it politely and repeatedly.” When he was recruited to Massachusetts General Hospital in 1970, he added that the requests not only be polite and repeated, but in writing. By employing that strategy throughout his career—combined with his carefully planned work and the support of numerous friends—he obtained virtually everything he requested along the way to changing the course of radiation oncology.

in 2011.

A Stellar Student

Born in Houston, Texas, in 1929, Suit distinguished himself academically as an honor student who accelerated his way through the public school system and went on to receive his bachelor of science from the University of Houston in about 2 years. There, he developed a deep interest in organic and biochemistry while taking a course given by Professor Eby Nell McElrath, whom he describes as the most impressive teacher he had—she made the subject truly stimulating to her students, Suit recalled. That led to Suit to plan a career in a medical specialty that was based heavily in science, preferably biochemistry. In 1948, at 19 years of age, he entered Baylor College of Medicine.
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