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Dr. Elizabeth Nichols

Associate Professor and Clinical Director
University of Maryland Medical Center
Maryland Proton Treatment Center

nichols-elizabethNothing about the treatment of cancer is pleasant. Dr. Elizabeth Nichols, clinical director of the University of Maryland Department of Radiation Oncology and treating physician at the Maryland Proton Treatment Center, however, has earned a reputation for treating her patients with such compassion that they are put at ease.

Nichols believes that as a radiation oncologist, it is important to form relationships with patients, especially since they are at their most vulnerable. She utilizes advanced technologies and evidence-based applications in her treatments. Nichols was part of the team that brought proton therapy, a highly advanced and precise form of radiation, to Maryland.

“Dr. Nichols’ high level of dedication to patients and the genuine care and empathy she brings to the treatment of those with cancer has a positive impact on patient outcomes and satisfaction. She makes a very difficult journey easier for my patients,” said Dr. Roopta Gupta, a hematologist and oncologist at Atlantic General Hospital.

While she treats patients with all types of cancer, her clinical research focuses on breast and gynecologic cancer. Nichols has been involved in the development of the GammaPod, a first-ever radiation therapy system specifically designed to treat early-stage breast cancer. The first patient was treated in 2018.

“For the last 20 years, we treated all breast cancer the same. Now with this new technology, we can customize treatment and shorten it – from four weeks to five sessions total. Patients have fewer side effects and we can minimize the toxicity, allowing patients to lead normal lives during and after treatment,” Nichols said.

In addition to being part of the development of groundbreaking cancer treatments and technologies, Nichols is the first female to become an associate professor at the University of Maryland Department of Radiation Oncology. She earned this promotion within six years of joining the department, all while also growing her family. As a mother of four young children, it may take longer for her to achieve things in her career, but she continues to break barriers and succeed.

This is a winner profile from The Daily Record's Health Care Heroes awards. Information for this profile was sourced from the honoree's application for the award.