Betje Levie awarded the Wertheim Salomonson Medal

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On 27 April 1940, in the lecture theater of Professor Carol in the University Hospital of Amsterdam, the Binnengasthuis, the Wertheim Salomonson medal was presented to Dr. Betje Levie of Amsterdam and Dr. G.J. van der Plaats of Maastricht.

The subject of the competition, which was won by both Levie and Van der Plaats, reads: "Results which can be obtained in one treatment session with the so-called contact therapy for malignant tumours (contact irradiation according to Chaoul), are seemingly contrary to the basis on which the so-called fractionated protracted radiotherapy rests. The board of directors asks for a comprehensive study of the relevant literature, accompanied by clinical and experimental research on the subject". The subject of this research was the usability of the new Philips Contact treatment machine with a Chaoul X-ray tube (approx. 50kV with reflector focus and a very short Focus-Skin Distance). 

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4 May 1940. The Dutch Women's Physicians Association (Vereniging van Nederlandse Vrouwelijke Artsen) celebrates the achievements of two of their members with a dinner just days before the German invasion of The Netherlands on 10 May, in the Astoria Hotel (Archive material VNVA). Betje Levie (seen on the right holding a plate) has received the Wertheim Salomonson medal for her services to Radiology. Charlotte Ruys (seen on the left holding a plate) was appointed Associate Professor in Microbiology of Infectious Diseases.

In the journal, Betje L. is called Betty L. for the first time. Sources at a later date also speak of Betty L. Apparently she chose to use a modern form of her first name.

The prize was introduced to honour Professor Wertheim Salomonson, a descendent of Salomonson, the textile manufacturer from Almelo (NL). The company fused at a later date with Ten Cate to become Nijverdal ten Cate. However, Johan Wertheim Salomonson decided to study medicine and became the Dutchpioneerin electrology and roentgenology. He became the first Professor of Roentgenology in The Netherlands and in 1901 established the Dutch Association of Electrology and Radiology (Vereeniging voor Electrologie en Radiologie). He initiated many international contacts and in 1900 organized the first international conference in Paris, followed by 1902 in Bern, 1906 in Milan en 1907 in Amsterdam. He became an honorary member of the Dutch, French, German and English professional associations of Radiology and was also a member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Science (Koninklijke Nederlandse Academie van Wetenschappen). The decision to set up the Wertheim Salomonson Fund was taken in 1926 (two years after his death) on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Association of Radiology and wasestablished on 24 March 1927. The medal was designed by Begeer in Voorschoten. A competition was announced in 1931, the winner of which would receive the award during celebrations of the University of Amsterdam.

There were more radiation oncologists from the Netherlands Cancer institute (NKI) who were awarded the WSS prize. In 1933 the prize was awarded for the first time, to Dr. Daniël den Hoed of the NKI,  for his work on the properties of high energy photons and X-rays and, in 1979, to Dr Jan J. Battermann of the NKI for his research into the clinical possibilities of 14 MeV neutron irradiation using the Philips DT generator. 



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    dr Betje (Betty) Levie

    † 1905 - 1992

    Levie was born on 5 March 1905 in Assen (The Netherlands) and died on 29 April 1992 in Tel Aviv (Israel). She studied medicine in Groningen and from 1931 she specialized in therapeutic radiology in the Netherlands Cancer Institute. In 1937, she received her doctorate “On the subject of malignant pharynx tumours in connection with modern radiation therapy”, under the direction of Professor van Ebbenhorst Tengbergen. She was removed from her position in 1941 by the German Occupation Authority because she was Jewish. She survived WWII by going into hiding in circles of Philips’s engineers in Eindhoven where she acted as a courier for the resistance. She emigrated to Israel in 1946. In 1957, she became head of the radiotherapy department in the Beilinson Hospital in Tel Aviv and, in 1968, she was appointed Associate Professor in Radiotherapy at the University of Tel Aviv. Mrs Betty Kazim-Rosenbaum gratefully provided information on her aunt from family sources and Israeli archives.