In Memoriam – André Wambersie (August 6, 1930 – November 27, 2020)

Professor André Wambersie, Honorary Chairman of the International Commission Radiation Units and Measurements (ICRU), passed away on November 27, 2020.

André Wambersie received his MD degree in 1957 at the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL), in Belgium followed by post-graduate training in radiobiology and radiation therapy at the Institut Gustave-Roussy in Villejuif, France, in the department of Prof. Maurice Tubiana from 1962 to 1965. He received his PhD in 1967 and then held positions as Professor in the Medical Faculty of UCL, Head of the Radiobiology and Radiation Protection Research Unit and Chairman of the Radiation Therapy, Neutron Therapy and Curietherapy Department of the Cliniques Universitaires St-Luc in Brussels. He initiated a fast neutron therapy program at the cyclotron of the University in Louvain-la-Neuve (1978) and later on a proton therapy pilot program (1991). He was Chairman of the Heavy-Particle Therapy Group of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer from 1981 to 1987, then Secretary of the Group. After his retirement from the UCL in 1995, Prof. Wambersie was visiting Professor at the Arthur James Cancer Hospital of the Ohio State University (1995 to 2006) and Guest Professor at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria from 1996. He authored or co-authored more than 200 publications, and together with Maurice Tubiana and Jean Dutreix he published a textbook on Radiobiology (1986, 1990 English, 2003). He participated in the European Commission MSc Radiobiology teaching program (UCL London) from 1994.

Professor Wambersie joined ICRU in 1969, became Vice Chairman in 1993, and served as Chairman from 1997 to 2006. After stepping down as Chairman in 2006 he continued to serve as Vice Chair from 2006 until 2009.

His contributions to the advancement and the teaching of radiobiology, radiation protection, radiation therapy practice and new technologies are legend. The breadth and depth of his knowledge, his understanding of the history of concepts and practice, his attention to logical consistency of past and present and his devotion to define them in language and parameters that can be standardized and understood by clinicians and scientists anywhere in the world made him a most esteemed, productive and sought-after consultant, contributor and leader in his university as well as in national and international organizations and committees. The ICRU report series on ‘Prescribing, Recording and Reporting’ and the ICRU reports on all current treatment modalities, on units and measurements owe much of their logical consistency to his tireless efforts, brilliance and diplomacy.

He served as an advisor to the Belgian Delegation and ICRU representative to the United Nation Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation for more than 20 years. He also served as an expert for numerous scientific and advisory committees.

He was an editorial board member of several journals including the International Journal of Radiation Biology, Radiation Oncology Investigations, and ICRU News.

Professor Wambersie received the Röntgen Plakette (Germany) in 1990, delivered the Eighth John R. Cameron Lecture (Madison) in 1994, and received the Pierre et Marie Curie Medal (Brussels) in 2006. He was elected an Honorary Member of the Austrian Society for Radiation Oncology in 1999, and received the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, from Ohio State University in 2002. He received the Groupe Européen de Curiethérapie and the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO) Iridium 192 Award from the European brachytherapy community during the ESTRO Congress in Vienna in 2014.

He is survived by his wife Sinette, five children, and grandchildren. He will be missed by his family and all who knew him.