Harold Elford Johns Medicine

Designed Cobalt 60 units for treatment of cancer

The Story

Inventor of the 'cobalt bomb,' a nuclear radiation device that revolutionized the treatment of cancers located deep in the body, where previous radiation therapies had proven ineffective. Over seven million people worldwide have benefited from cobalt-60 therapy. Johns wrote The Physics of Radiation Therapy in 1953 and The Physics of Radiology in 1961 (4th edition 1983). He held a number of patents for the design of Cobalt 60 units for treatment of cancer, and he helped establish the department of medical biophysics at the University of Toronto.

Sources: Canadian Who’s Who 1993, Canadian Light Source Inc.

Photo: Canadian Light Source Inc.

The Person

July 4, 1915
Chengtu, West China
Date of Death
August 24, 1998
Place of Death
Kingston, Ontario
Biophysicist; Professor of Medical Biophysics
University of Toronto
  • BA McMaster University, 1936
  • MA University of Toronto, 1937
  • PhD University of Toronto, 1939
  • Roentgen Award of the British Institute of Radiology, 1953
  • Gairdner International Award, 1973
  • W.B. Lewis Award of the Canadian Nuclear Society, 1985
Last Updated
September 17, 2015

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