Professor David Jaffray, PhD’94, was working as a summer student at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton, Alberta when his supervisor, Jerry Battista, PhD, was recruited to work in London, Ontario.
Professor Jaffray was finishing up his undergraduate degree in physics at the University of Alberta at the time, and Battista encouraged him to apply to the Medical Biophysics program at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry.
“I looked closely at the Medical Biophysics programs being offered at both the University of Toronto and Western University, and decided to come to London,” he said. “It was a new and exciting program being built, and I wanted to be a part of that.”
Professor Jaffray has always been a hands-on person. He worked on a farm as a kid and would constantly be making things and fixing cars — anything to do with electronics and wiring.
These hobbies, along with his interest in physics, are what he credits to leading him to the Medical Biophysics program and the career he has today.
Currently the head of the Radiation Physics Department at the Princess Margaret Hospital, University Health Network, Professor Jaffray is also Director of the Techna Institute at the University Health Network, Fidani Vhair in Radiation Therapy Physics at the University of Toronto, a Senior Scientist at the Ontario Cancer Institute, and Vice-Vhair and Professor in the Departments of Radiation Oncology and Medical Biophysics and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto.
“I am passionate about medical physics research that improves patient care and management,” he said. “I also have graduate students and I do research and technology development, everything from information to imaging systems.”
One of the main skills Professor Jaffray gained from Schulich Medicine & Dentistry’s Medical Biophysics program was the ability to attract and nurture strong clinical engagement.
Throughout his graduate studies, he would build machines in the evening and complete tests on those machines on the weekends, which gave him the opportunity to see the direct impact his work could have — something he still draws upon in his career today.
For those who are currently enrolled in the Medical Biophysics program, Professor Jaffray has one important piece of advice.
“Medical biophysicists have an obligation to bring science to the clinical domain — they have a role to bring that science discipline, those scientific methods, into hospitals,” he said.