Section: Saint Barnabas Medical Center News

Right at Home: Radiation Oncologist Returns, Gives Back to the Community That Raised Him


Though Brijal Desai, M.D., radiation oncologist, started working at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in September, it wasn’t his first time in the hospital. “I was born at Saint Barnabas,” says Dr. Desai. Diving back to the community in which he was raised played a large part when he accepted his new position.

His family still lives in the area, but Dr. Desai says the hospital is not what it was when he was born there. It has grown into a major medical center over the years. “Saint Barnabas’ reputation as a high-quality Medical Center and RWJ’s academic activity was a good fit for me,” he says. “Getting to work with talented colleagues who bring academic training to the community is a great draw for physicians of my generation.”

Dr. Desai was trained in radiation oncology at the university of Pennsylvania and Northwestern University. He was drawn to the field for several reasons. “I thought it had the most cutting-edge technology, and treatments are evolving rapidly,” he says. He focuses on cancers of the lung, brain and head and neck. “We are discovering newer and more effective ways to treat patients every day.”

He cites saint Barnabas’ CyberKnife, a state-of-the-art radiation system that delivers higher doses in smaller, more targeted areas.

“We used to treat all tumors,” he says. “Now we can treat some with shorter courses of radiation, sometimes with a single dose.”

He also wants to help patients who are facing serious diseases. “We are serving patients at a critical time in their lives,” he says. “They are in very difficult and complicated situations, and we can do a great service for them.” New technologies make it easier to tailor treatments to each patient. “Each patient has a unique background and history, and the field has innovated more personalized approaches to care,” he says.

And he is especially grateful to be able bring his talents back home. “I feel responsible to treat my patients as if they were a family member or a good friend,” he says. “Every situation is different, but they all have people who love them, and my job and responsibility is to treat them in the most compassionate way I can.”

Learn more about radiation oncology services at Saint Barnabas Medical Center.

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