Robert Spencer Stone (5 June 1895 – 18 December 1966) was a Canadian American and pioneer in radiology, radiation therapy and radiation protection.
Robert Spencer Stone, M.D., LLD was born in Chatham, Kent County, Ontario the son of Spencer ‘Pen’ Stone and Flora Maude Campbell. The Pen Stone family consisted of children Robert, Thomas, John, and Elizabeth. R.S. Stone married Wilhemina Rose Crawford on 24 June 1924 in London, Ontario. The Stone’s had 3 children: Robert Spencer, Ian Crawford and Margaret Isobel.
In 1917 Stone entered military service in the Royal Canadian Air Force and gained the rank of Lieutenant. He was assigned to the 111th Overseas Battalion, Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force and fought in France during World War I. After being wounded in battle, he returned to Canada in 1919.
Stone attended the University of Toronto and earned a B.A. in 1917, M.A. in 1922, M.B. in 1924 and M.D. in 1928. From 1919 – 1921 he traveled to Peking, China to teach and work as an assistant in anatomy at the Peking Union Medical School. Stone went to Detroit, Michigan for his internship at Grace Hospital to study radiology under his uncle Dr. Rollin H. Stevens from 1925 – 1928.
During the time in Peking, he produced his first two scientific publications. One paper dealt with abnormal sex ensemble of goats and the other paper described the central nervous system of a human cyclops.
In 1928 Stone moved to San Francisco to become the first radiologist on the faculty at the University of California School of Medicine. He stayed there until retirement in 1962. Stone developed a keen interest in radiation therapy and radiation protection. He continued his pursuits in retirement and earned the distinction as Emeritus Professor.
In 1935 Stone worked at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, on the Berkeley Campus in an old wooden building abandoned by the Department of Engineering. This building was the first home of the 37-inch cyclotron held together by chicken wire and sealing wax. The cyclotron produced 32P for biological studies. In that dilapidated building other pioneers that included John H. Lawrence, Paul C. Aebersold, and J. G. Hamilton were busy at work. Dr. Aebersold collaborated with Dr. Stone as one of the physicists who developed the 60-inch cyclotron into a neutron therapy source. Their work was published in 1939, and in 1940 their patient studies were published. Dr. Stone and Dr. Hamilton were early pioneers in cyclotron produced “artificial radionuclides”, and published results on the distribution of radiosodium in man in February 1937. Early on, most of the staff at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory was interested in pure physics. Money became available to establish the Crocker Laboratory for Medical Research, with a 60-inch cyclotron, capable of producing neutrons for Stone to pursue the treatment of malignant disease. Stone was allotted cyclotron time one afternoon each week for the treatment of patients. He was ahead of his time in the experimental treatment of tumors. This work was suspended by World War II, and Dr. Stone became responsible for the health and safety of the workers of the Metallurgical Laboratory of the University of Chicago. The Met Lab was doing initial research on the metabolism of fission and fissionable products in collaboration with the Crocker Radiation Laboratory and Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and others. Stone's talents as physician and administrator became apparent since there were little or no over-exposures or radiation injuries, with numerous research and ancillary personnel involved in developing the techniques and procedures of the atomic age.