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vujaskovicZeljko Vujaskovic

Professor of Radiation Oncology
University of Maryland School of Medicine and Maryland Proton Treatment Center

With a career spanning three decades, Zeljko Vujaskovic, M.D., Ph.D., notes his most significant profes­sional accomplishment thus far was establishing the largest hyperthermia cancer treatment program in the United States.

Hyperthermia is a type of cancer treatment where a patient’s tumor is heated.

“When combined with chemotherapy and/ or radiation, the treatment has been shown to improve tumor response with minimal side effects,” Vujaskovic said. “The result is a higher likelihood of survival in patients, particularly those with aggressive or recurrent disease.”

As a professor of radiation oncology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Maryland Proton Treatment Center, he was able to establish the program, combining highly sophisticated proton therapy with cutting-edge hyperthermia treatment.

“We now treat more than 100 patients suffering from breast cancers, bladder cancers, sarcomas, melanomas and pelvic tumors with this therapeutic combination each year,” he said.

Vujaskovic earned his medical degree in Croatia and came to the U.S. for a fellowship in medical oncology at the University of Colo­rado Cancer Center. Through mentorship and friendships formed there and Colorado State University, he discovered his passion for radi­ation oncology and to advance clinical hyper­thermia to improve patient response to standard care of treatment.

After nearly 15 years at Duke University as a clinical radiation oncologist, associate professor and director of the Normal Tissue Injury Laboratory, Vujaskovic moved his work to the University of Maryland in 2012.

To educate the medical community on the benefits of thermal therapy, Vujaskovic created and directed the Thermal Oncology Practice School beginning in 2019.

“This semi-annual course is the first of its kind in the U.S. to provide practice guidelines and practical training to national and interna­tional thermal therapy practitioners,” he said. “Thanks to this course, many practitioners are now educated on the field of thermal therapy and this increased knowledge and training allows clinicians to provide expanded treatment options to their patients.”

This is a winner profile from The Daily Record's 2021 Health Care Heroes awards. Information for this profile was sourced from the honoree's application for the award.