The summit of science

For this year's ECR president, Professor Borut Marincek, there could be no more apt motto for the event than The Summit of Science. ‘Over the last 20 years, imaging procedures, particularly radiology, have revolutionised healthcare. At the same time, radiology as a high-tech discipline is dependent on an increased natural scientific and technological knowledge. Therefore, the objective is to bring together all those who are interested in the latest scientific and technological developments in radiology,’ he explained during a European Hospital interview to discuss the highlights of ECR 2009.

Photo: The summit of science

A recent Frost & Sullivan report indicates that the global economic crisis will negatively impact on the demand for imaging systems, which in turn could have negative effects on research and development. We asked Professor Marincek for his personal view on this prediction.

Borut Marincek: With large medical congresses the size and quality of the technical exhibition is always a good indicator of the economic state of play in the respective medical field. There has been absolutely no downturn at the ECR 2009. To the contrary, the exhibition space has been sold out, right down to the last square metre.

What does he consider to be this year’s congress highlights?

BM: A scientific highlight which will be presented in a New Horizon session is ‘Cell imaging: Can the radiologist see the cell?’ We want to discuss whether imaging can be used for the evaluation of cellular activities. A second New Horizon session, on the subject of ‘Plaque imaging’, is dedicated to the imaging of atherosclerotic plaques in cardiovascular diseases.

Both topics emphasize that radiology is typically an interdisciplinary profession. We obviously have many links with our clinical colleagues from other disciplines. This can also be seen with the State of the Art symposia, which cover topics from the neurosciences, pulmonology, oncology or IT.

All in all there will be 20 Special Focus sessions, which will cover topics from the entire range of modern radiological procedures. The key words in oncologic imaging, for instance, are tumour-response and therapy monitoring. New imaging techniques such as PET-CT or US and MR elastography, as well as image-guided percutaneous interventions, such as radiofrequency ablations, will be discussed. Vascular stents will also be featured. Lastly, in a Professional Challenges session, coronary imaging will be discussed quite a lot, because it is one of the areas within radiology where we have seen an amazing development in recent years. And this, of course, has consequences for the daily work of radiologists.

Will cardiologists be content if radiologists cover this as well?

BM: Ultimately, quality will decide. I am responsible for the delivery of high quality training – independent of the individual medical disciplines. As mentioned, radiology is interdisciplinary. We can’t refer patients to us ourselves, i.e. we are dependent on the referring colleagues. Therefore we put a lot of emphasis on good cooperation, not only with the cardiologists but also with cardiac surgeons.

This brings us to job-political issues. What is important to you in this area?

BM: As in the previous year, ‘Women in Radiology’ will be a main topic – and a very important topic, as the proportion of women amongst medical students in many countries is more than 50%. This is also evident at the congress. For some time now, one third of the congress participants have been female. Many women radiologists have families with children. Therefore, in a Professional Challenges session dedicated to women in radiology we are going to discuss the topic ‘Can you be a good parent and a good academic radiologist?’

A further political issue is the topic of junior staff development. Is there a problem with new recruits in radiology?

BM: Actually, there really is a problem with the number of qualified new recruits. However, we can look at this in a different way and say that radiology, as a discipline, has gained a considerable importance over the last few years, i.e. we now carry out more and more sophisticated imaging examinations than 20 years ago. However, as the number of trainee radiologists has remained more or less constant, this leaves us with a shortage of trainees -- reason enough for the ESR to promote junior staff with special programmes.

Finally, what does he personally hope for in his role as the ECR 2009 congress president?

BM: I obviously hope that the scientific curiosity of the participants will be satisfied. However, particularly in times of electronic communication, I believe that personal encounters are very important. On this note, the ECR 2009 is to be an event, as well as a platform, and I hope we will not only meet old friends but also make new ones -- and I also hope that the international guests will enjoy the hospitality of the city of Vienna.


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