Bova has worked in the College of Medicine ever since graduating from UF in 1977 with a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering sciences and specialty in medical physics. He was also chosen for Distinguished Professor based on his world-changing research and impressive career as an educator.
Bova holds 14 patents, all developed at UF since 1992. He was part of a team of faculty, staff and students at the university who created the design and algorithms for the first medical linear accelerator, a tool that adapted and refined what was then a groundbreaking but highly expensive radiation therapy device to a more accessible, efficient and precise technology for radiosurgery. The group’s work allowed for hundreds of cancer patients to be treated each day around the globe and impacted millions of lives. Their designs are the basis for all medical linear accelerators to this day.
“I cannot think of anyone more deserving of such an honor,” said Brian Hoh, M.D., M.B.A., chair and James and Brigitte Marino Family professor of the Lillian S. Wells department of neurosurgery. “Dr. Bova is truly one of the most exceptional individuals in his field and in history. He is a world-class colleague and trusted friend. We are extremely fortunate to have him at UF.”
Bova said receiving the Distinguished Professor distinction was “a very nice surprise.” But he wished all the members of the radiosurgery team were recognized, not just himself.
“None of us do this on our own — everything I did was part of a team effort,” he said. “But it does feel good to realize people who truly know you feel you’ve made a contribution.”
Bova said if you ask his mother, he has always been a fix-it guy. When he was 3 years old, she found him in the basement with tools trying to repair his first broken phonograph. And like many scientists, he describes himself as a “research junkie.”
“You put a problem in front of us, and we just can’t help ourselves,” he said.
But it’s the people he works with who really make his job fun. Bova has trained over 150 residents and graduate students at UF. And alongside his peers, he is adapting many of the same principles from the linear accelerator for use in the operating room and veterinary clinic for deep brain stimulation and large animal imaging.
“I always say I have the best job in the world,” Bova said. “Being able to collaborate and have patients who come here leave with successful outcomes — it just feels good to be able to be part of the team.”