One-On-One with Prof Dr John R. Cameron: His Mission. Making a Difference to Society!

5 July 2015

September 2004 – Radiology Malaysia Editor, Dr Evelyn Ho, conducts an electronic interview with Prof Dr John R. Cameron, a medical physicist who has devoted his life to the application of physics in the medical world. He invented bone densitometry (a method and equipment to measure bone density) in the 1960s. Since treatment has been found for treating osteoporosis, bone densitometers have become popular world wide.


Photo is courtesy of John Cameron

John is a pioneer and world leader in medical physics. His work has covered such diverse topics as radiation dosimetry (TLD), photon absorptiometry method of measuring bone mineral, the physics of the human body and the design and manufacture of quality control instruments for x-ray machines.

In 1989 John developed the simple BERT method for explaining radiation to x-ray patients. The radiation dose to the patient is explained in terms of how long it would take to get the same dose from background radiation. (BERT = Background Equivalent Radiation Time.) For example, a chest x-ray is about equal to a week of background radiation. See “Are X-rays Safe?”

John has been honored by his scientific and medical colleagues for his scientific contributions. He received the Coolidge Award from the American Association of Medical Physics in 1980 and the International Organization for Medical Physics (IOMP) awarded him the first Marie Sklodowska Curie award for his contributions to medical physics education in developing countries in the year 2000. In 1995 the Radiological Society of North America gave him the first Roentgen Centennial Commemorative Medal – it is given every hundred years! In 2002 the American College of Radiology elected him an Honorary Fellow of the ACR.

In 2004, in order to celebrate his outstanding achievements, the 3rd South East Asian Congress of Medical Physics held in Malaysia has inaugurated The SEACOMP John Cameron Lecture. A distinguished medical physicist, Professor Dr Willi A. Kalender from Erlangen University, Germany, who is a foremost researcher in computed tomography delivered the first John Cameron lecture. (Willi Kalendar is responsible for introducing spiral and multislice imaging methods and developing methods for quantifying bone mineral density using CT.)

Some of the information above has been reproduced with permission from the Homepage of Prof Dr John Cameron.

John Cameron passed away on 16 March 2005 in Gainesville, Florida. He was 82 years old. His daughter Anne Marie Skye wrote, “He lived a full life as an educator, scientist and devoted husband and father. We will miss his selfless energy, dedication to education in all its forms, and his wonderful sense of humour.”

Please click here for the interview!