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Dr. Michael Sharpe, an internationally respected medical physicist, endearing friend, and cherished colleague passed away on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 22, after a brief but hard-fought battle with esophageal cancer.
Dr. Sharpe was the Associate Head of Medical Physics, Professional and Academic Affairs, in the Radiation Medicine Program at UHN's Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. He was also an Affiliated Faculty of the Techna Institute, and an Associate Professor in the Departments of Radiation Oncology and Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto.
Our thoughts and condolences are with his wife Jane, his two lovely children Gregor and Emily, as well as his parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews.
Dr. Sharpe, better known as Mike, had an amicable nature, piercing intellect, and engaging persona, through which he created a remarkable network of friends, colleagues, and mentees that transcends time and space. His loss is felt around the world.
Dr. Sharpe joined the Medical Physics team of the Radiation Medicine Program at the Princess Margaret in 2002 and focused all of his work on advancing the technology and practice of radiation therapy.
Today, his innovations and inventions directly benefit the cancer patients of the Princess Margaret and have disseminated to the care of thousands of cancer patients across the world. Dr. Sharpe was recruited back to Canada from the William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, where he led the development of intensity modulated radiotherapy techniques for breast cancer patients and was a central part of the team that invented the active breathing control system for precision radiotherapy. Both of these developments are employed worldwide for the benefit of many.
He was respected as a leading intellect in the development of image-guided radiation therapy techniques and was invited to lecture around the world on his work in the emerging field of adaptive radiotherapy. Over the brief course of his career, he authored over 60 peer-reviewed publications, as well as numerous chapters in the field of radiotherapy.
Despite his efforts to stay out of the lime light, Dr. Sharpe was recognized for his contributions on many occasions, including receiving Cancer Care Ontario's Innovation Award in 2007 and the University Health Network's Inventor of the Year Award in 2009. In 2015, he became a Fellow of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine in recognition for his many significant contributions to the field of Medical Physics. In the very brief time since his passing, the global Medical Physics community has responded with numerous statements of condolences and accolades of his impact on the field.
Dr. Sharpe had a passion for teaching and natural skill as a mentor. As a seasoned Medical Physicist, he was often approached by trainees and junior staff and he took his role as mentor seriously. His passion for rigor and clarity will bring immeasurable benefit to the profession of Medical Physics and to the patients these individuals serve.
Dr. Sharpe continued this effort at scale by serving as the Quality Leader of Cancer Care Ontario's Radiation Treatment Program. His animated and engaging teaching skills were sought after by many. He delivered lectures on advanced radiotherapy techniques to medical physicists, radiation oncologists, and radiation therapists in local courses and at invited lectures around the world. He was recruited by the American Society of Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) for their international teaching programs and in 2011, was a founding faculty member of the annual European Society of Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO) course on Advanced Treatment Planning.
Dr. Sharpe was a passionate man, and in addition to his passion for his family and his profession, he had an incredible enthusiasm and talent for cycling. After discovering cycling just over 10 years ago, he took on a central role in the establishment of the RMP Accelerator team in the annual Ride to Conquer Cancer (RTCC) of the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. As team captain, he recruited many friends and colleagues. His charming and ardent personality was as effective at raising funds as he was at recruiting. Although he knew his fate was sealed, he still signed up for next year's 10th anniversary of the ride. He was a leader to the end.
Dr. Sharpe will be dearly missed by his friends and coworkers at UHN and by his many, many colleagues from around the world.
A visitation, funeral and celebration of life were held earlier this week.
RMP colleagues have crafted a
Facebook group page as a tribute to Dr. Sharpe.
If you would like to share a memory but are not a Facebook user, you can send an email to
Mike.Sharpe.Memories@rmp.uhn.ca and it will be added.