With great sadness, we share that Edward “Ed” Jackson, PhD, Chair Emeritus of Medical Physics, passed away on June 2, 2020 after a long illness. He will be remembered as a tireless advocate for science, education, and our broader community.

Jackson joined the School of Medicine and Public Health in 2013 when he was recruited to lead the Department of Medical Physics as chair. Prior to joining our school, he was on the faculty of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Department of Imaging Physics.

Edward Jackson
Edward Jackson

He led our Department of Medical Physics through a period of growth that included revamping the department’s graduate program in a visionary and innovative way. Jackson also believed strongly in student participation in department decision-making and worked to diversify the graduate student population.

“Ed was a remarkably effective champion of our school’s core values,” said Robert N. Golden, MD, Dean of the School of Medicine and Public Health. “It is rare to witness a leader whose life’s work so consistently exemplifies their ideals. His career was shaped by three truths: his uncompromising dedication to scientific excellence, his ability to bring out the best in others, and his passion for inspiring collaboration on a grand scale. He will be greatly missed.”

Jackson obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics from Auburn University. He then completed a PhD in biophysics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston in 1990. His research focused on quantitative imaging, a technique in which data are extracted from medical images as an approach for measuring disease biomarkers.

Jackson was committed to pushing the boundaries of radiology and medical physics to improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. He provided long-standing leadership to the Quantitative Imaging Biomarker Alliance, which was formed by the Radiological Society of North America in 2007. Through worldwide collaborations, the group has facilitated standards and studies that have benefited patients and advanced the work of the global medical imaging community.

Jackson went beyond his duties as department chair to take on multiple leadership roles within the School of Medicine and Public Health, including service on several key search committees, our steering committee for translational research innovation, and a key reaccreditation task force. His visionary thinking advanced sustained continuous improvement efforts in the school.

“I enjoyed the privilege of working closely with Ed over the years. His selflessness and collaborative spirit has been inspirational,” said Golden. “He will remain an icon in the world of medical physics and a model of an exceptional leader.”

Online memorial service

Please join us on Wednesday, July 22 at 8:30 a.m. CST for a celebration of life for Dr. Jackson. The celebration will be hosted by his wife Sondra and will allow us to virtually gather to celebrate Ed’s innovative spirit and to honor his memory and legacy.

The event will be hosted on UW-Madison’s Webex event platform. Click to join any time after 8 a.m. to view a slideshow celebrating Ed’s life. The speaker’s reflections will begin just after 8:30 a.m. Please note that Dr. Jackson’s celebration of life will not be recorded.

UW Madison employees: 

  • Click the link to join. You will be prompted to enter your email address and name as you wish it to appear as an attendee in the WebEx. 
  • Employees who need a refresher on accessing WebEx may review instructions.

Guests from other institutions:

  • Confirm that your computer and browser have the minimum operating requirements.
  • Join Signature Events Manager Traci Gaydos on either Monday, July 20 between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. or Tuesday, July 21 between 3 and 5 p.m. for a test. Traci will be on the WebEx Event (click link to join meeting) and is available to troubleshoot with you by email at traci.gaydos@wisc.edu, or by phone at 312-560-9693.
  • You may wish to alert IT professionals at your institution that you will be accessing uwmadison.webex.com and ensure that you have the proper permissions in place.

The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations can be directed to the Department of Medical Physics through the UW Foundation. Members of the UW–Madison community and beyond are welcome to share tributes to Jackson by emailing their memories to smphweb@uwhealth.org, and we will add them as comments below.

Please join us in reflecting on Ed Jackson’s memory and inspirational legacy.