Professor Klaas Breur, head of the Radiotherapy Department

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In 1964 Klaas Breur is appointed head of the department of radiotherapy in the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI). Next to his, he is appointed professor of radiotherapy at the UvA (University of Amsterdam) and head of the radiotherapy department in the Wilhelmina Gasthuis (teaching hospital). Dr Breur is experienced as a manager and in leading a team. Since 1950 he has been managing director of the Radiotherapy Institute in Rotterdam (RRTI), together with Mrs Den Hoed-Sytsema, after Dr. Daniel den Hoed's sudden death. Amsterdam offered Breur the opportunity to shape the radiotherapy department according to his own requirements, and besides that he became the first professor in radiotherapy in the history of The Netherlands.  

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  Staff of the Rotterdam Radiotherapy Institute in the 1940s.   Klaas Breur at the front to the right, managing director Daniel den Hoed at the front in the middle. Sitting next to him, in a white coat, Mrs Den Hoed-Sytsema. Standing on the far left: clinical physicist Bram Somerwil. Behind den Hoed stands the instrument maker Peter Huisman. Information: thanks to Hans van de Poel, retired head of clinical physics in the RRTI    NB. Den Hoed and his wife were both trained as radiologists in the NKI. Den Hoed has been head of radiotherapy at the NKI from 1925 to 1940. They  married after their resignation  in 1940. 

Training. Klaas Breur was trained as radiation oncologist at the Rotterdam Radiotherapy Institute (RRTI) by Daniel den Hoed. Radiobiological research takes a prominent place in the scientific work of Klaas Breur. During the years he worked in Rotterdam, data was collected about the growth and regression of lung metastases, which formed the basis for his thesis "Growth rate and radiation sensitivity of human tumours (1965)". In 1964 Klaas Breur accepts his appointment as first professor of radiotherapy at the UvA, in combination with the appointment as head of the department of radiotherapy at the Netherlands Cancer Institute.  

Radiobiology. In 1965 Breur completes his doctorate with he thesis "Growth rate and radiation sensitivity of human tumours" [45]. Professor A. Schaberg at the University of Leiden is his supervisor. During the following years, the subject of his doctorate, radiobiological research, remains a spearhead in the research of the NKI and in his department at the university UvA.  The radiobiology laboratory  of the UvA was established in the radiotherapy department of the NKI when it moved to the new building site in Amsterdam-Slotervaart in 1973. 

Developing radiotherapy. He broadens the scientific staff of the radiotherapy department by appointing not only more physicians, but also physicists and engineers. The appointment of a statistician, whose role was to check the validity of the research findings, was remarkable. Under the leadership of Breur, the radiation oncologists and physicists achieved pioneering research with which they all earned their doctorates. He also convinced the management of the institute and the government to invest in the growth of radiation therapy. He had foresight and advocated the introduction of modern radio-diagnostic equipment in the NKI.  Breur foresaw the importance of introducing imaging techniques, integrated within the radiotherapy department in the preparation and during the treatment. 

Breur soon gained an important place among his colleagues at the NKI. He has a convincing vision on the multidisciplinary approach and stimulates his colleagues to the necessary cooperation. He was seen by his colleagues as the Pater Familias of the Institute.   

In each of the two radiotherapy departments under his leadership he appointed a colleague as "chef de clinique" to be responsable for organising the daily routine. 

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Dr. J. Marion V. Burgers, radiation oncologist. Chef de Clinique of the department of radiotherapy in the NKI under Breur from 1966 to 1980.

Marion Burgers starts het education to radiation oncologist under Lokkerbol in 1962. After being trained as radiation oncologist in the NKI she completed her education with professor Paterson in Manchester and did an internship at the Amsterdam general hospital OLVG.  After that she returned to the NKI in 1964.   

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Dr. Henny van Peperzeel, radiation oncologist. Chef de Clinique of the department of radiotherapy in the Wilhelmina gasthuis under Breur from 1970 to 1972.

In 1965, Dr. Henny van Peperzeel became Breur's assistent in the Wilhelminagasthuis (UvA) and she completed her doctorate in 1970 with the thesis "Patterns of tumour growth after irradiation, a comparative study in men, dogs and mice" [46]. From then on she was researcher at the NKI and Chef de Clinique of the radiotherapy department in the Wilhelminagasthuis (UvA) until she was appointed professor of radiotherapy at the university of Utrecht in 1972. 

Bronnen & Publicaties

  • [45] “Patterns of growth and radiation sensitivity of tumours in man” by K. Breur. Doctoral thesis, University of Leiden 1965, supervisor prof. Dr. A. Schaberg. ,
  • [46] “Patterns of tumorgrowth after irradiation, a comparative study in men, dogs and mice” by H. van Peperzeel. Doctoral thesis, University of Amsterdam 1970, supervisor Prof. Dr Klaas Breur. ,