President’s Corner #13: Hail & Farewell: Your 2018 ISMRM & ESMRMB Annual Meeting

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“HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME” – T.S. Eliot

It is that time of year again. The time for us to gather together. The time for us to greet old friends and meet new ones. The time for us to take stock of our Society, our field, and our world.

It is going to be a great time.

In a scant few days, we will converge upon Paris for our 2018 Annual Meeting. And, soon after that happens, I will come to the end of my time as your president.

I leave you with a new strategic plan to consider, focusing on disruption and connection, and reflecting new imperatives facing outward and looking inward. As I have discussed and debated with many of you, our path forward involves a commitment to nurturing not only our own creativity but also our own diversity; it involves telling the story of MR not just to ourselves but also to the world; and it involves an ongoing drive, which is in our Societal DNA, to write the next chapters of that continuing and compelling story.

I had planned some comments in this space on “The Mentor Effect,” and one or two other topics. They will have to wait for another time, and another forum. Instead, let me leave you with a few anticipated highlights of our upcoming Annual Meeting.

Innovations? Mais Oui!

If you see this person around the Porte de Versailles convention center, please take a moment to give her your thanks.  Karla Miller has done an utterly remarkable job of making our meeting fresh, relevant, and exciting.  Ably assisted by her successor, John Port, along with the hard-working members of the Annual Meeting Program Committee and our wonderful ISMRM Central Office, Karla has been a formidable force for change, and a powerful advocate for engaging you, our membership.  Keep your eye out for the new Member-Initiated Symposia, for Secret Sessions in the Resonarium, and for the Magnetic Moments initiative, in which you were all invited to tell your stories.  Karla has written about these initiatives in her blog, which many of you have already had the pleasure of reading.

Us Too: Diversity and Inclusion

Speaking of Karla’s blog, have you read her latest post?  You should!  This has been a year marked by long-overdue upheavals in the global conversation about gender, diversity, bias, and inclusion.  As busy scientists concerned with hard facts and new tools, we might be tempted simply to note this, then to carry on as usual.  That would be a mistake.  For, despite our rich history of connecting clinicians and basic scientists of various specialties, there remain some striking disparities between who we are and who, by some measures, we appear to be.   For example, for a Society made of up 30% women (based on the very latest numbers), it is concerning that only 4 of 75 ISMRM Gold Medals have gone to women, or only 1 of 18 Distinguished Service Medals, or only 40 of 324 Fellowships.  Even accounting for historical shifts in demographics, it is clear that we are operating with certain preconceived notions of what our awardees should look like.

What can we do to bridge this gap? To start with, we are bringing in an expert. Dr. Curt Rice (shown above), has studied and spoken widely about the science of unconscious bias and diversity in various settings, including in scientific communities like ours. The president of Oslo Metropolitan University and head of Norway’s Committee on Gender Balance and Diversity in Research, Dr. Rice was recently invited by the Nobel Foundation to address the members of all the Nobel Committees regarding the challenges they face in moving towards better gender balance in the awarding of the Nobel Prizes. He will deliver our inaugural President’s Lecture on the Wednesday of the meeting. The President’s Lecture is a new mechanism designed to attract high-profile speakers from outside our ranks, to reflect on important developments in the broader world around us. The title of Dr. Rice’s lecture will be “When the Right Thing to Do is also the Smart Thing to Do: Research & Results on Diversity in Research Organizations.”

The Presidential Lecture will kick off a full day of focus on unconscious bias and diversity, including a Member-Initiated Symposium later that afternoon (entitled “RESONATE: Discussion on Scientific & Social Biases within the ISMRM”), a Forum on Bias sponsored by the Women of ISMRM (WISMSM) in the evening, and a Secret Session on “Hacks for Dealing with Bias” on Thursday morning.  The hope is that these events will help to begin a broader conversation on who we are and who we aspire to be.

Disruptive Trends

As the meeting week unfolds, keep your eyes out for evidence of developments that continue to disrupt our field. A move from traditional snapshots to continuous streaming. A transition from using MR as an extension of our eyes to designing systems that more closely emulate our brains. I have already reported on trends related to Artificial Intelligence at our last two Annual Meetings. AI will be everywhere at the meeting this year. What do you make of it? What will we make of it, together?

Hail and Farewell

It has been my great honor, privilege and abiding pleasure to serve as your president.  On Wednesday evening, at our annual Business Meeting, I will pass the gavel to my esteemed colleague, Dr. Pia Maly Sundgren, who will continue the good work of advancing our mission and serving your interests in the coming year. I will be there to assist as needed.  And I will always be happy to talk and work with any of you with bright new ideas about reinventing and connecting MR.

Let me close now with a special message to our young investigators. All year, I have spoken about our changing world — about a disruptive and creative flux the likes of which I can truly say I have never seen before. In more than just the generic, generational way, this future is yours. The world of tomorrow’s MR truly belongs to you.

So, shape it in your own image! Carry on the conversation. Tell our story. Disrupt. Create. Change our world, together. This is what your Society asks of you. And this is how you can make your mark on society.

Dan out.