Thomas Bortfeld, PhD

Chief of Physics Division
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Address: Massachusetts General Hospital
Department of Radiation Oncology
100 Blossom Street
Boston MA, 02114
Phone: (617) 724-1180

Education and Degrees

MS (Diploma): University of Heidelberg , Germany, 1988, Physics
Ph.D.: University of Heidelberg , Germany, 1990, Applied Physics
Habilitation: University of Heidelberg, Germany, 1995, Physics

Areas of Interest

  • Optimization, Multi-Criteria Optimization
  • Therapy Imaging
  • Proton Radiotherapy
  • Dynamics of Cancer Treatment

Recent Honors

Alfred Breit Award, DEGRO (German Society for Radiation Oncology), 2015 (For work on IMRT)

Science Award: Research Networks, Fraunhofer Society, 2016 (For work on multi-criteria optimization in radiation therapy, with colleagues from Fraunhofer ITWM) 

Honorary Professor, University of Freiburg, Germany, 2017

Glocker medal, DGMP (highest award of the German Medical Physics society), 2018 

Recent Keynote Lectures

DEGRO annual meeting, Hamburg, Germany, 2015

Giersch symposium, Frankfurt Institute of Advanced Studies (FIAS), Germany, 2017

CARO-COMP-CAMRT joint scientific meeting, Montreal, Canada, opening keynote, 2018 

Review Talks

Harvard Applied Physics Colloquium: Physics against Cancer 

In the News

  1. A pioneering approach to cancer treatment
  2. Targeting tumours
  3. Proton therapy teams up with PET imaging
  4. Fighting cancer with mathematics

Selected Recent Publications (total of more than 150 peer-reviewed papers)


  • Lühr A, von Neubeck C, Pawelke J, Seidlitz A, Peitzsch C, Bentzen SM, Bortfeld T, Debus J, Deutsch E, Langendijk JA, Loeffler JS, Mohan R, Scholz M, Sørensen BS, Weber DC, Baumann M, Krause M. "Radiobiology of Proton Therapy": Results of an international expert workshop. Radiother Oncol. 2018 May 31. PMID: 29861141.
  • Grassberger C, Hong TS, Hato T, Yeap BY, Wo JY, Tracy M, Bortfeld T, Wolfgang JA, Eyler CE, Goyal L, Clark JW, Crane CH, Koay EJ, Cobbold M, DeLaney TF, Jain RK, Zhu AX, Duda DG. Differential Association Between Circulating Lymphocyte Populations With Outcome After Radiation Therapy in Subtypes of Liver Cancer. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2018 Apr 17. PMID: 29859792.
  • Perkó Z, Bortfeld T, Hong T, Wolfgang J, Unkelbach J. Derivation of mean dose tolerances for new fractionation schemes and treatment modalities. Phys Med Biol. 2018 Feb 05; 63(3):035038. PMID: 29099720.
  • Langhans M, Unkelbach J, Bortfeld T, Craft D. Optimizing highly noncoplanar VMAT trajectories: the NoVo method. Phys Med Biol. 2018 Jan 16; 63(2):025023. PMID: 29336348.
  • Shusharina N, Liao Z, Mohan R, Liu A, Niemierko A, Choi N, Bortfeld T. Differences in lung injury after IMRT or proton therapy assessed by 18FDG PET imaging. Radiother Oncol. 2018 Jan 15. PMID: 29352608.
  • Müller BS, Shih HA, Efstathiou JA, Bortfeld T, Craft D. Multicriteria plan optimization in the hands of physicians: a pilot study in prostate cancer and brain tumors. Radiat Oncol. 2017 Nov 06; 12(1):168. PMID: 29110689.
  • Perkó Z, Bortfeld TR, Hong TS, Wolfgang J, Unkelbach J. Derivation of mean dose tolerances for new fractionation schemes and treatment modalities. Phys Med Biol. 2017 Nov 03. PMID: 29099720.
  • Gorissen BL, Unkelbach J, Bortfeld TR. Mathematical Optimization of Treatment Schedules. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2016 Sep 01; 96(1):6-8. PMID: 27511841.
  • Craft D, Khan F, Young M, Bortfeld T. The Price of Target Dose Uniformity. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2016 Nov 15; 96(4):913-914. PMID: 27788961.
  • Baumann M, Krause M, Overgaard J, Debus J, Bentzen SM, Daartz J, Richter C, Zips D, Bortfeld T. Radiation oncology in the era of precision medicine. Nat Rev Cancer. 2016 Apr; 16(4):234-49. PMID: 27009394.
  • Yan S, Lu HM, Flanz J, Adams J, Trofimov A, Bortfeld T. Reassessment of the Necessity of the Proton Gantry: Analysis of Beam Orientations From 4332 Treatments at the Massachusetts General Hospital Proton Center Over the Past 10 Years. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2016 May 01; 95(1):224-33. PMID: 26611874.
  • Papp D, Bortfeld T, Unkelbach J. A modular approach to intensity-modulated arc therapy optimization with noncoplanar trajectories. Phys Med Biol. 2015 Jul 07; 60(13):5179-98. PMID: 26083759.
  • Unkelbach J, Bortfeld T, Craft D, Alber M, Bangert M, Bokrantz R, Chen D, Li R, Xing L, Men C, Nill S, Papp D, Romeijn E, Salari E. Optimization approaches to volumetric modulated arc therapy planning. Med Phys. 2015 Mar; 42(3):1367-77. PMID: 25735291.
  • Salari E, Unkelbach J, Bortfeld T. A mathematical programming approach to the fractionation problem in chemoradiotherapy. IIE Transactions on Healthcare Systems Engineering. 2015; 5(2):55-73.
  • Richter C, Seco J, Hong TS, Duda DG, Bortfeld T. Radiation-induced changes in hepatocyte-specific Gd-EOB-DTPA enhanced MRI: potential mechanism. Med Hypotheses. 2014 Oct; 83(4):477-81. PMID: 25175713.

Special Issues

  • Controversies in Proton Therapy. Brada M, Bortfeld T eds. Seminars in Radiation Oncology. 2013;23(2):75-153.
Located in: Leadership | Research