Legacy, Passion and Moving Towards a Cure for Cancer with Dr. Aron Popovtzer

Hadassah On Call: New Frontiers in Medicine

What's new and exciting in the world of cancer research and treatment? Host Benyamin find out in his conversation with Dr. Aron Popovtzer, Hadassah’s new director of the Sharett Institute of Oncology. He’ll fill us in on his pioneering new form of radiation treatment that reduces toxicity, how Hadassah continues to lead the way in detecting cancer early, how cancer patients are dealing with the second outbreak of COVID-19, his special connection to Hadassah, and much more.

About this episode

About the Episode

Walking the halls of Hadassah Hospital may feel a little familiar to Dr. Aron Popovtzer, the new head of Hadassah Medical Organization's Sharett Institute of Oncology. After all, it was the hospital that first brought the Popovtzer family to Israel decades ago when they moved from the suburbs of Philadelphia to Jerusalem. Aron was just nine years old when his father became the head of the Nephrology Department at Hadassah Hospital, where he remained for the next 24 years until his retirement.

Now, in 2020, the younger Dr. Popovtzer is shepherding his department into the future with the construction of a new cancer center. “It will be a one-stop shop for all patients," he said when we spoke to him for the new episode of the "Hadassah On Call" podcast. "Our treatments will be bit more personalized and patients will live better, live longer and have less side effects. This is the dream."

That dream is already off to a racing start. Dr. Popovtzer is expanding on existing science surrounding brachytherapy, which involves treating cancer by inserting radioactive seeds directly into a patient's body. He's pioneering a new form of treatment called DART — Diffused Alpha Radiation Therapy — which is so laser-focused that it eradicates the tumor cells and spares the surrounding healthy tissue. The DART study he is currently leading at Hadassah will later be implemented at hospitals all across the globe — including at Memorial Sloan Kettering and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. "It is more effective than other radiation," he explained. "This is definitely an exciting treatment."

Moreover, Popovtzer's oncology department will be the first in Israel to offer genomic mapping to all of its cancer patients. The innovative treatment gives doctors unique insights into the tumor development for each individual person with cancer. "We're learning about many more mutations we did not know about," he said. "And so we have many more treatments to offer."

For the mild-mannered doctor, it's all in a day's work. "The self-fulfillment you have from curing cancer is so high, you just get addicted to it," he told us. "The passion I have towards this occupation is nothing I could compare to anything else."

What else you’ll hear in this episode:

  • How the coronavirus global pandemic is impacting cancer treatments
  • What it’s like breaking cancer news to a patient
  • The lifestyle and health habits that may help prevent cancer
  • Will cancer eventually become a mere chronic disease that people can live with, or will it always be the emperor of all maladies?

Further learning

Hadassah's Sharett Institute of Oncology welcomes a new director
Breast Cancer and BRCA Gene Research at Hadassah Hospital

Read a transcript of this episode.

"Hadassah On Call: New Frontiers in Medicine" is a production of Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America. Hadassah enhances the health of people around the world through medical education, care and research innovations at the Hadassah Medical Organization. For more information on the latest advances in medicine please to hadassah.org.

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The show is hosted by Benyamin Cohen and edited by Skyler Inman and the team at the Hadassah offices in both New York and Israel.

This episode includes a promotion for:

The Branch
This podcast offers a glimpse into the everyday lives of Jews and Arabs in Israel forging meaningful relationships. Presented by Hadassah and hosted by Dina Kraft, "The Branch" shines a light on the stories of people living the example of a shared society. Together. Even though it’s complicated.hadassah.org/thebranch

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