Meet Anthony D’Amico, MD, PhD

Anthony D'Amico MD, PhD

Anthony D’Amico, MD, PhD, Chief of Genitourinary Radiation Oncology at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center, and Eleanor Theresa Walters Distinguished Chair in Radiation Oncology, is renowned for his exceptional contributions to cancer care, particularly in genitourinary cancer. Dr. D’Amico’s work in the detection, staging and treatment of prostate cancer has garnered international acclaim, evident in his 350+ peer-reviewed publications.

Dr. D’Amico’s journey into medicine began with a fascination for mathematics and physics. As the first scientist in a family rooted in the performing arts, he pursued physics and nuclear engineering at MIT.

Soon after, his path toward cancer research and care began with three pivotal events in his youth. The first one, the passing of Mrs. Eleanor Theresa Walters, a loving figure and family friend. “She was like a second mother to me, and she taught me the importance of listening,” shared Dr. D’Amico. At only 19 years of age, this led the young student to question the nature of cancer and how to alter its potential for a devastating impact. Years later, her passing remained an impactful moment in his life, which led him to honor her by starting the Eleanor Theresa Walters Distinguished Chair in Radiation Oncology.

After meeting his future wife still as a young college student, her mother, a leader in infectious disease control, introduced him to the interpersonal aspects of medicine and how it has the ability to change people’s lives. This further sparked the young man’s interest in pursuing medicine as a career.

The third event that solidified his decision to become a physician was as a graduate student under the guidance of Professor Alan Nelson, PhD. There, he was encouraged to use his physics and engineering skills to understand how cancer spreads and ways to impede that process, which set him off on a path towards a PhD in Radiation Physics. Later, as a medical student at the University of Pennsylvania, under the mentorship of Dr. Robert Goodman, a pioneer in radiation oncology, Dr. D’Amico became passionate about the surgical aspects of oncology due to its need for precision and patience. He discovered that radiation oncology encompasses both surgical and medical elements, which ultimately shaped his career as an accomplished physician.

Today, Dr. D’Amico finds fulfillment in mentoring the next generation of medical professionals. Inspired by his patients’ resilience, Dr. D’Amico imparts three key principles to his mentees: tackle one thing at a time; recognize your humanity; and embrace humility, forgiveness, and love. These principles, he says, “help form the foundation for happiness, emotional and academic resilience, guiding individuals successfully through challenges.”

Beyond his clinical and research pursuits, Dr. D’Amico is a Taekwondo Master, practicing since the age of eight. Teaching interested students from Harvard Medical School every Sunday, he embodies discipline, resilience, and determination. Rising by 5:00 a.m. nearly every day, he embraces the philosophy of Taekwondo, emphasizing the courage to accept life’s uncertainties and the determination to rise again after ‘perceived’ setbacks.

“In the midst of perceived setbacks, there is an opportunity to redirect and move forward in a direction that formally you may not have considered; leading to unexpected success and, moreover, happiness, wisdom and personal fulfillment, ” says Dr. D’Amico.