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James Hobson Stratton
Suggested Citation:'John George Trump.' National Academy of Engineering. 1989. Memorial Tributes: Volume 3. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1384.
Suggested Citation:'John George Trump.' National Academy of Engineering. 1989. Memorial Tributes: Volume 3. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1384.
Suggested Citation:'John George Trump.' National Academy of Engineering. 1989. Memorial Tributes: Volume 3. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1384.
Suggested Citation:'John George Trump.' National Academy of Engineering. 1989. Memorial Tributes: Volume 3. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1384.
Suggested Citation:'John George Trump.' National Academy of Engineering. 1989. Memorial Tributes: Volume 3. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1384.
Suggested Citation:'John George Trump.' National Academy of Engineering. 1989. Memorial Tributes: Volume 3. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1384.

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JOHN GEORGE TRUMP1907-1985BY LOUIS SMULLINJOHN GEORGE TRUMP a pioneer in the scientific, engineer-ing, and medical applications of high voltage machinery, diedon February 2 I ,1985. Married to the late Flora Trump, Johnleft three children: John, Karen, and Christine.At the time of his death, John Trump was professor emer-itus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) inthe Department of Electrical Engineering. He was also seniorconsultant for the High Voltage Engineering Corporation,the company he founded in 1946 and where, until 1970, heserved as chairman of the board and then, until 1980, astechnical director.John Trump was born in New York City on August 2l,1907. He earned a B.S. in electrical engineering from thePolytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in 1929 and an M.S. inphysics from Columbia University in 1931. In 1933 he re-ceived a D.Sc. in electrical engineering from MIT, where hebecame a research associate in that same year, an assistantprofessor in 1936, and a professor in 1952. Trump formallyretired in 1973, although he continued his active researchprogram as professor emeritus until 1980.John Trump came to MIT to work with Professor RobertI. Van de Graaff in what was then the new field of super-highvoltage generation and applications. 'Van's' main interest333

334MEMORIAL TRIBUTESwas in the application of his new electrostatic generator inthe field of nuclear physics. John Trump tract two main inter-ests: the insulation of super-high voltages in vacuum andcompressed gases and the biological applications of highvoltage radiation. These wide-ranging biological applicationsincluded the treatment of cancer by megavolt (Mev) X-radiation and electron beams, extensive pioneering studiesof food preservation by electron beams, and the treatmentof sewage and sluclge by 2-Mev electron beams.With grants from the Godfrey M. Hyams Fund, Trumpand his young assistants designecl ant! built an air-insulateclmegavolt generator that was installed at the Huntington Me-morial Hospital in 1937. It was large anc! awe inspiring. Onwet days, the generator crackled and sparked or just cried,but the conspicuous advantages of its megavolt X-ray ther-apy soon became clear. The greater penetration depth ofthese radiations, compared to lower energy X-rays, permit-ted more deeply seater! tumors to be treated with minimal· · · ~Damage to ac Joining tissues.In 193S, with continued funding from the Hyams Fund,the team began the design of a new, compact I.25-Mev gen-erator that would be insulated with compressed gas. Thisparticular machine was installed in the George Robert WhiteHospital of the Massachusetts General Hospital, where it re-mainec! in active use for sixteen years. Trump then under-took the building of a I.75-Mev machine for the AmericanOncological Hospital of Philadelphia until World War ITintervened, that is, and the machine was taken by the U.S.Army for use in the Manhattan Project.During World War IT, Trump interrupted his high-voltagecareer to work on microwave radar in the MIT RadiationLab. He served for a time as field services director and wasthen posted to the British branch of the Radiation Lab. In1944 he was named director of the lab and given the respon-sibility of working directly with the Eisenhower MilitaryCommand. At the liberation of Paris, Trump rode into the

JOHN GEORGE TRUMP335city with General Eisenhower and immediately began to setup the Paris branch of the Radiation Lab.His diary of this period is fascinating reading, especiallyfor those of us who remember the significance of H2X,Oboe, Loran, MEW, SCR 584, anc! other sets of initials fromthe alphabet soup of the clay. For his wartime service, JohnTrump received a Presidential Citation and the King's Mecialfor Service in the Cause of Freedom.After the closing of the Radiation Lab in 1946, Dr. Trumpquickly picked up the threads of his previous high-voltageresearch. He formed the High Voltage Engineering Com-pany to put electrostatic high voltage machines to work. Vancle Graaff generators were soon in use all over the worIcl witha wicle range of applications, inclucting those in physics re-search, the sterilization of surgical instruments, the cross-linking of polymers, and the radiography of welds and cast-ings.Trump's main efforts and interests, however, remained onthe MIT campus, where he initiated a long series of experi-ments, supported by the Natick Laboratory of the ArmyQuartermaster Corps, in the preservation of food by highvoltage radiation. There was also a continuing train of ex-periments on the bactericidal and viricidal effectiveness ofhigh voltage radiation. Much new work was done on com-pressed gas insulation, but his most noteworthy contribu-tions were in the treatment of cancer by radiation.Dr. Trump and his staff began a systematic study of theproblems of delivering radiation to deep tumors without de-stroying the intervening healthy tissue. From their researchcame an improved technique of rotating the patient 360 de-grees about the tumor site, so that the radiation beam en-terecl the body from all directions but focused on the tumor.The team also clevelopec! techniques for static and dynamicbeam shaping to protect healthy tissues. This work led to acooperative twenty-five-year research venture with the LaheyClinic: the setting up of a treatment facility in the MIT High

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336MEMORIAL TRIBUTESVoltage Lab, where patients were routinely treated under thejoint supervision of Trump, his staff, and the Lahey Clinicphysicians. Ultimately, more than ten thousand patients weretreated.Until 1950 nearly all high-voltage radiation therapy wasdone with X-rays generated by the impact of a high-voltageelectron beam against a gold target inside a vacuum. In a1940 paper, Trump, Van de Graaff, and Cloud had sug-gestec! using direct high-voltage electrons because of theuniquely different way they penetrated matter.Although X-rays are absorbed more or less uniformly asthey traverse the body from the skin inward, high-energyelectrons produce very little ionization until their energy fallsbelow a critical value. They then do all of their ionizingwithin a very short distance and almost never extend beyondit. The first clinical test of this new technique was made in1951. The technique offerer! an ideal way to treat many su-perficial malignancies, ant! soon after its initial use, it becamea standard method of treatment.Dr. Trump began his last major effort in 1976. Like all con-cerned citizens, he was offended by the clumping of millionsof gallons of barely treated or raw sewage into our harborsand waterways. His calculations showed that a 2-Mev elec-tron radiation system comparer! favorably with chlorinetreatment on an economic basis, had the additional acivan-tage of destroying many viruses, and appeared to dissociatePCBs and similar compounds into less noxious forms. WithNational Science Founclation support, Trump and his asso-ciates built a pilot plant at the Deer Island Sewage Plant inBoston Harbor. In addition, based on the valuable electronradiation data produced at the Deer Island plant, a commer-cial sewage treatment plant has been built for the greaterMiami area.John Trump was truly a pioneer in the field of high voltageengineering and high voltage machinery and in the medicalapplications of high energy radiation. He was the author orcoauthor of more than one huncired papers and the recipi-

JOHN GEORGE TRUMP337ent of many honors from numerous engineering and medi-cal societies. John Trump was elected to the National Acad-emy of Engineering in 1977. The latest award bestowedupon him was the National Mecial of Science, which was pre-sentec! posthumously in February ~ 985.His mixture of personal technical work and quiet leader-ship produced many important discoveries. John Trump willbe missed by his woric~wicle circle of colleagues ant! friends.

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