By Julia Patuzzi
As has been our tradition for a few years now on the final day of our congress, we already look ahead to next year’s ECR. We therefore spoke with Prof. Lorenzo E. Derchi from Genoa, Italy, who, as incoming ESR President, is in charge of ECR 2019. He told us about his plans and ideas for the next European Congress of Radiology.
ECR Today: Professor Derchi, next year’s European Congress of Radiology will be the 25th to be held in Vienna. Are there any specific celebrations planned that you can already share with us?
As incoming ESR president, Prof. Lorenzo E. Derchi, Head of the Department of Radiology at the University of Genoa, will preside over ECR 2019.
Lorenzo E. Derchi: We are still thinking about them. An anniversary like this is something more than an opportunity for a big celebration. It is the right moment to re-think our history and what we have reached over the years. To always have the congress in the same city since 1991, at first every other year and then, after 1999, annually, has been a radical change. The new formula proved successful and ECR has become the European meeting to come to in order to learn the latest clinical and technical advances in our discipline as well as to present the results of the previous year’s research.
In my experience, however, it has become much more. From 1991 up until today all congress chairpersons have been part of the same team in a relay race, each handing off the baton to the next one. This continuity can be felt in the special atmosphere at each meeting, and has allowed the congress to become the annual appointment to meet old friends and make new ones; to discuss any radiological topic and then to start working together on it; and finally a place to meet periodically to share problems, advancements and results of long-term projects.
ECRT: Were you here for the first ECR in Vienna in 1991? If not, when did you attend your first ECR? What do you recall from that visit?
For this month’s ESR News interview, we spoke to Prof. Laura Oleaga, from Barcelona, Spain, who serves on the ESR Executive Council as chair of the ESR Education Committee. She gave us an insight into the workings and recent achievements of her committee, as well as her own background within the ESR.
ESR News: What is the overall purpose of the ESR Education Committee and how does it operate?
Prof. Laura Oleaga: The purpose of the ESR Education Committee and its subcommittees is to promote education in radiology to achieve homogeneity in radiology education throughout Europe. To achieve this, the committee acts as a consultative body for all educational activities within the ESR and works closely with the European School of Radiology (ESOR), the European Board of Radiology (EBR), which organises the European Diploma in Radiology (EDiR), and the ESR’s e-Learning platform. The main objective of the committee is to achieve maximum quality in radiology training across Europe.
Prof. Laura Oleaga, chair of the ESR Education Committee
ESR: The committee interacts with a number of other groups and subcommittees. What roles do the European Training Assessment Programme Subcommittee (ETAP) and the Undergraduate Education Subcommittee play?
LO: Following the aim of harmonising the standards of radiology training in Europe, ETAP gives radiological institutions the opportunity to have their training programmes objectively assessed by external assessors nominated by the ESR, to guide their training in radiology according to the standards of the ESR European Training Curriculum for Radiology (ETC).
Moreover, it is important to promote the specialty of radiology in universities. In this regard the ESR Undergraduate Education Subcommittee is responsible for all activities aimed at the promotion of radiological education among medical students. The subcommittee has developed the paper Becoming a radiologist and is currently working on a guidance paper for all those interested or engaged in teaching radiology to medical undergraduates.
For this month’s ESR News interview, we spoke to Prof. Michael Fuchsjäger, from Graz, Austria, who serves on the ESR Executive Council as chair of the ESR Finance & Internal Affairs Committee. He gave us an insight into the workings and recent achievements of his committee, as well as his own background within the ESR.
ESR Office: What is the overall purpose of the ESR FIA Committee and how does it operate?
Prof. Michael Fuchsjäger: The Finance and Internal Affairs Committee is responsible for monitoring the ESR’s investments and preparing the society’s annual budget. It presents regular updates to the Executive Council for discussion and final approval. To set a good example and save both time and resources, most of the committee’s meetings are held as part of the Executive Council meetings rather than on separate occasions. Aside from budgetary questions, the committee is also responsible for membership issues. The ESR reached a record of 60,000 members in June last year, finally peaking at 62,934 individual members from 156 countries. Despite this huge number, which makes the ESR the world’s biggest radiological society, the ESR attaches great importance to maintaining a high professional standard of its member community. The FIA Committee receives reports from the ESR Office’s Membership Department at regular intervals, which is part of the mechanism to ensure that the application criteria for the various membership categories are met. Membership subscription for 2015 is still open until August 27, 2015. Before this deadline, there will be increased promotion especially among those who have not yet seized the opportunity to benefit from the numerous related benefits. I invite all of you to visit the ESR website for more information.
Prof. Michael Fuchsjäger, chair of the ESR Finance & Internal Affairs Committee
ESR: What are the main issues currently on the committee’s agenda, and how are they being tackled?
MF: The ESR’s budget is constantly monitored with the ultimate goal of achieving the best possible efficiency for the benefit of the society’s members. Each project proposed by any of the ESR’s numerous committees, subcommittees and other entities has an impact on the budget. When evaluating potential new activities in terms of cost efficiency, the ESR focuses on meeting the demands of its membership and the radiological scientific community. The evaluation is of course a constant process and continues for all established activities. The ESR committees and their sub-entities are structured in such a way as to create and permanently monitor synergies, for example by cross-representation of their members. The committee chairs, who attend all meetings of their sub-entities and coordinate their activities, regularly report to the Executive Council. This allows for quick decision making processes, also in terms of potential budgetary implications.
For this month’s ESR News interview we spoke to Prof. Hans-Ulrich Kauczor, from Heidelberg, Germany, who serves on the ESR Executive Council as chair of the ESR Research Committee. He gave us an insight into the workings and recent achievements of his committee, as well as his own background within the ESR.
ESR Office: What is the main purpose of the ESR Research Committee (RC) and how does it work in practice?
Hans-Ulrich Kauczor: The main purpose of the RC is strategic. The RC provides strategic recommendations to the ESR Executive Council. To do this properly, the RC surveys and supports the need of researchers in radiology. Also, the RC leverages the research-focused collaboration with other disciplines and their respective European societies.
One recent major achievement in this regard was the collaboration with the European Respiratory Society (ERS), where we agreed on joint recommendations on lung cancer screening in Europe, which we published in May 2015 simultaneously in European Radiology and the European Respiratory Journal.
Other major collaborations are in the field of imaging biomarkers together with the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) and the RSNA’s Quantitative Imaging Biomarkers Alliance (QIBA), as well as imaging biobanks with the Biobanking and BioMolecular Resources Research Infrastructure (BBMRI-ERIC).
Prof. Hans-Ulrich Kauczor, chair of the ESR Research Committee
ESR: Can you explain the role of the Research Committee’s subcommittees and the recent structural changes that have taken place?
HUK: Just over two years ago, three additional working groups were established under the umbrella of the RC. Working groups exist temporarily to accomplish a certain goal for the ESR. The main goal of each of these working groups was to write and publish an opinion or white paper in their field. The outcomes in each of these fields were as follows:
The Europen Society of Radiology works hard to represent radiologists throughout the continent. But Europe is a diverse place, and the support of European national radiological societies, most of which are institutional members of the ESR, is essential. The ESR National Societies Committee is our primary forum for communication and cooperation with those national societies. We spoke to the committee chairperson, Prof. Deniz Akata, to find out a little about the committee’s functions and her own role.
ESR Office: What is the main purpose of the National Societies Committee (NSC) and how is the committee composed?
Deniz Akata: The main purpose and continuous task of the NSC is to consolidate and strengthen relations with the ESR’s national institutional member societies. Regular communication between them and the ESR is very important, especially on matters regarding the ESR’s educational, research and professional policies. In a way, the ESR provides guidance and benefits to member countries in many professional issues. On the other hand, we need national societies to maximize the promotion of these activities. The presidents of the ESR’s 44 national Institutional Member Societies are ex-officio members of the committee.
Prof. Deniz Akata, chair of the ESR National Societies Committee
ESR: How does the committee work in practice? Where, when, and how do meetings take place?
DA: The ESR National Societies Committee officially meets in Vienna once a year, during the European Congress of Radiology, where the chairperson of the committee gives a brief report regarding the ESR’s annual activities and answers delegates’ questions and gets their feedback. On the other hand, we have continuous relationships with the national societies through mailings, surveys and newsletters throughout the year. The ESR Annual Leadership Meeting, usually held in November, is also an excellent official get-together with our institutional members. At the last meeting, which took place in Florence in November 2014, representatives of the institutional member societies actively enrolled and presented their points of view regarding some of the most common and challenging topics in our profession. All day long, the meeting was very well attended and very fruitful discussions were held.
We also try to get into personal contact with each national society during their national congresses or meetings. To this end, we started the initiative to hold “National Society meets ESR” sessions, which has been very welcomed by the national societies
ECR Today spoke with the incoming ESR President, Prof. Lluís Donoso Bach, Director of the Diagnostic Imaging Department of the Hospital Clínic of the University of Barcelona and Executive Director of the UDIAT Diagnostic Centre at the Health Corporation Parc Taulí, to find out about his plans for the ESR over the coming year.
New ESR President, Prof. Lluís Donoso Bach
ECR Today: What will be your priorities as ESR President?
Lluís Donoso Bach: The ESR has a good track record in education and we will continue to innovate through the ECR. We will also open new learning centres in Vienna and Bogotá and are planning a further centre in Moscow.
Because of the financial crisis, it is more important than ever that we develop efficient systems, so we will increasingly rely on electronic, web-based services for our members. This is why we decided to launch the ESR eLearning Platform. This represents a big challenge, and we will see how it works as a business model and how our members use the platform throughout the year. We will also try to offer an examination for the European Diploma in Radiology online. There are a lot of experiences and successful models to draw inspiration from.
We will also continue our efforts in research through the European Institute for Biomedical Imaging Research (EIBIR). The ESR Research Committee has been working a lot on the quantification of data using biomarkers and biobanks, focusing in particular on oncology and trying to have more influence in that area. Quality and safety is another very important issue for us. During ECR 2015, we launched ESR iGuide, a clinical decision support system for European imaging referral guidelines, following the example set by the American College of Radiology with ACR Select.
We also want to offer our members tools to improve quality in their departments. The ESR Quality, Safety and Standards Committee has thus created Level 1 clinical audit templates based on safety. We should also explore the possibility of performing quality controls at the level of department management.
Lobbying with European institutions has been an important field of battle for us in the past few years, and we will consolidate our action in this field keeping the momentum and relying on the personal contacts and networks established over the past years. We launched a Call for a European Action Plan for Medical Imaging in the European Parliament on November 4, to highlight existing heterogeneities in medical imaging in Europe in the areas of quality and safety, education and training, research, and eHealth, and to call for joint targeted actions to improve harmonisation in these areas.
Since the discovery of the x-ray, radiology and radiation oncology have been sister disciplines. Recent progress has brought increasing points of interaction between the two and this is no better exemplified than by the close relationship between the ESR and the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO). The two societies will host a joint session at ECR 2015 focusing on this partnership and opportunities for future collaboration. To find out more about the session, ECR Today spoke to session co-chairman and ESTRO president, Prof. Philip Poortmans, of the Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, Netherlands.
Prof. Philip Poortmans, President of the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology, will moderate today’s joint session on radiology and radiation oncology.
ECR Today: How was this joint session between the ESR and ESTRO first initiated?
Philip Poortmans: The time of medical specialties working on their own is over. It is now all about cooperation and multidisciplinarity. Often when we talk about multidisciplinarity, people think only about doctors who are directly involved in treating the patient. In the case of breast cancer, for example, this would then be the surgeon, the radiation oncologist, the medical oncologist and in several countries also the gynaecologist. People often forget about diagnostic specialists like the pathologist and the radiologist. Radiation oncology is very closely linked to imaging in general; both to radiology and to nuclear medicine. So it is a field that is very important for us and a specialty with which it is essential for us to cooperate closely. For many years, ESTRO has run courses with contributions from radiologists and nuclear medicine specialists to teach our young colleagues, or colleagues who want CME, about the contribution of the diagnostic specialties. So this is not new at all. ESTRO and the ESR have an especially close relationship, with the former president of ESTRO, Prof. Vincenzo Valentini, and the ESR president, Prof. Lorenzo Bonomo, working in the same hospital. People in such positions who know each other very well can facilitate this process of close collaboration which then benefits us all. Of course, this means that last year we already had a joint session at the ECR. This collaboration is based on a Memorandum of Understanding signed by both societies, which includes agreements about education, guidelines, and scientific dissemination. A congress is of course always a mixture of both scientific dissemination, bringing new findings to the community, and education, so this nicely fits our mutual commitment.
ESR Office: What is the main purpose of the ESR Publications Committee and how does it operate?
Lorenzo Derchi: The aim of the ESR Publications Committee is to coordinate the society’s many publications and to advance them. Our two journals, European Radiology and Insights into Imaging, as well as our two electronic databases EURORAD and EPOS, are the ESR’s most important scientific endeavours. The two newsletters, ESR@Work and ESR News, are the means through which the society keeps in touch with all its institutional and individual members.
Behind the success of these initiatives is the dedication of a large number of people. The first are the Editors-in-Chief of each publication. Their expertise in relating with the submitting authors, guiding the groups of section editors and scientific reviewers, and choosing the right directions for continuous increase of the standing of their journals are to be underlined. Then, all members of the Scientific Publications Department at the ESR office in Vienna have to be remembered. Their work is essential as they follow each submitted manuscript through the editorial process, ensure all deadlines are met to keep every issue on time, and maintain the house style that makes all ESR publications recognisable among all other publications.
Prof. Lorenzo Derchi, chair of the ESR Publications Committee
ESR: What are the main issues currently on the committee’s agenda, and how are they being tackled? What new issues or projects do you think the Publications Committee will be dealing with in the coming years?
LD: During 2014, together with Springer, we decided to start a new online-first textbook series based on the ESR European Training Curriculum for Radiology, which should help candidates preparing to take the European Diploma of Radiology. The books are in fact intended to be written by trainees under the supervision of a senior volume editor. There will be eleven volumes and all contributions will be invited and planned simultaneously, with a target completion date in late 2016 or early 2017. The Series Editor of the whole initiative will be Prof. Birgit Ertl-Wagner, from Munich. ESR members will have free access to the books through SpringerLink, via the ESR MyUserArea.
Talking to our own members is obviously important to the ESR, but communication with the public and other groups of radiologists is high on the agenda too. This is why the ESR has its own Communication and External Affairs Committee, which is responsible for relations with patient groups and international societies, as well as various other initiatives. We spoke to the committee chairperson, Prof. Boris Brkljačić, to find out a little about the committee’s functions and his own role.
ESR Office: What is your background within the ESR committee structure and what motivates you to be involved?
Boris Brkljačić: I have been involved in ESR activities for more than a decade. I have been the national representative of the Croatian Society of Radiology on two ESR committees and was involved in ESR activities while I was president of Croatian Society of Radiology. I was also a member first of the Finance Committee, and then of the Communication and External Affairs Committee (CEAC) during the chairmanship of Dr. Luigi Solbiati. After that I served from 2011 to 2014 as chairman of the ESR Finance and Internal Affairs Committee, and in March 2014 I was elected chairman of the Communication and External Affairs Committee. I have been involved in the organisation of several ECRs as a member of the programme planning committee and of two subcommittees, and I was the local organiser of one of the first ESOR courses in 2007, in Dubrovnik. I am also a member of the ESR working group on economics. Being involved with the ESR is very stimulating and motivating. It is a well organised, large and efficient professional society. The benefits for members are many, and the ESR’s activities are especially beneficial for countries that are smaller and have fewer resources, not only in the educational sense but also in the sense of professional activities and the harmonisation of the practice of radiology on the European level.
Prof. Boris Brkljačić, chair of the ESR Communication & External Affairs Committee
ESR: What is the main purpose of the Communication and External Affairs Committee and how does it operate?
BB: The Committee is responsible for liaison with other European and international societies, public relations initiatives of the society, coordinating activities related to the International Day of Radiology, activities related to the Patient Advisory Group in Medical Imaging, activities related to the International Summit at ECR, and it is also involved in the EU agenda. The committee consists of a chairman and four members at large (currently Prof. Philippe Grenier, Prof. Fermin Saez, Prof. Paul Sidhu and Prof. Mustafa Ozmen), as well as the president and 2nd vice-president of the ESR. The chairman of the European School of Radiology (ESOR) and the executive director of the ESR are ex officio members without voting rights. The members meet in person during the ECR, and otherwise communicate electronically.
ECR Today spoke with the next ECR president, Prof. Valentin Sinitsyn. He is chief of the radiology department at the Federal Centre of Medicine and Rehabilitation in Moscow, Russia, and currently serves as president of the European Society of Cardiac Radiology (ESCR).
ECRT: What will be the main highlights of ECR 2014’s scientific programme?
Valentin Sinitsyn: Prepare for more interactivity. People are increasingly interested in interactive sessions to assess what they have learned from a lecture. The ECR has been developing interactive sessions for several years now, but we want to increase that. Today, you can find a lot of information on the internet and many people might not think it is necessary to travel to a congress. We want to create something attractive and show that it is worth coming here. Nothing can replace shaking hands with your colleagues from other countries. I would be very sad if the ECR were entirely online. This is why we are making live meetings more interactive.
ECR 2014 Congress President Valentin Sinitsyn, from Moscow, Russia.
We would also like to change the format of scientific sessions. Our lectures have the same format they had one or two hundred years ago: a stage and an auditorium. We are currently discussing the concept of a multimedia classroom, a model which was successfully introduced during the last SIRM congress in June 2012. This multimedia classroom offered 60 work stations from different companies with 25 different cases which were discussed at the end. We are currently discussing the structure with Professor E. Neri from Pisa, who was responsible for the scientific programme of that project.
Soon we are going to use smart phones for voting during audience response sessions. But wireless technology has its limits and sometimes networks crash, so it needs a lot of work. Keypads are an old technology but they are very reliable. I am sure that next year, or the year after that, everybody will be able to vote with their own iPads or tablets.
We will also increase the number of multidisciplinary sessions. This is not something we have to do just during the ECR. This year we had the Imaging Biomarker’s Course the day before the congress, which was organised by the European School of Radiology. This will take place again next year with radiation oncology as the topic.