March 18, 2016

ACR 2016 Clinical Research Lessons for Every Radiologist

Sessions along the clinical research pathway of ACR 2016 will demonstrate the wide-ranging importance of imaging science in radiology. Clinical research discoveries lead to new instruments and medical applications that are validated with clinical trials and judged on the basis of their results to determine their appropriateness for clinical use and reimbursement.

“Coverage decisions are multi-factorial,”noted Clinical Research Pathway co-chair Ruth C. Carlos, MD. “It requires the underlying science but also involves advocacy to guide good science into practice.”

“At ACR 2016, we want to give clinical radiologists an opportunity to see the process and learn from those who are intimately involved with policy decisions, and from scientists, on how to advance the science to contribute to policy, payments, and advocacy,” she said.

These lessons will be emphasized at Tuesday’s session on “From Evidence to Reimbursement.” Through the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN), the College has sponsored some of the most influential imaging-related clinical trials of the 21st century. They include the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial (NLCS), Digital Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial, National CT Colonography Trial and National Oncologic PET Registry (NOPR).

Bruce E. Hillner, MD, chair of NOPR, will describe how Medicare’s Coverage with Evidence Development policy led to NOPR’s formation and Medicare’s ultimate acceptance of FDG-PET for staging most cancers. Ella Kazerooni, MD, FACR, principal investigator of NLCS, and Cynthia Moran, ACR executive vice-president, will report how the study’s definitive results, combined with high-powered advocacy, secure a Medicare National Coverage Determination without restrictions for the screening procedure.

Also on Tuesday, faculty speaking at the session on “Imaging Research Informing the Future of Healthcare” will delve into the importance of medical imaging science for the National Institute of Health’s Precision Medicine and BRAIN Initiative. Precision medicine will build upon past achievements in molecular imaging and genetics research to capitalize on targeted biomarkers and genetic profiling to develop highly personalized strategies to prevent and treat disease.

In part, the BRAIN Initiative was inspired by functional MRI and other powerful brain imaging techniques that led to discoveries about the relationship between behavior, cognition, emotion, and specific areas of neuroactivation in the brain. Established by President Barack Obama in 2013, the initiative has spent more than $127 million to accelerate the development and application of new technologies that will enable researchers to produce brain images exhibiting extraordinary spatial and temporal resolution to display interactions between individual brain cells and complex neural circuits.

“The ACR is in a unique position to develop researchers who address certain missions of the NIH,” said Clinical Research Pathway co-chair Pamela Woodard, MD. “For the new Precision Medicine Initiative, for example, they can perform imaging research targeted to individual patients and inform a combination of imaging metrics and histopathologically based data sets that will lead to even more precision in the future.”

“Wednesday’s session entitled “Clinical Research Participation Across the Practice Spectrum” will reveal that imaging science is not the exclusive providence of post-doctoral scientists and NIH-supported academic labs. Richard Duszak, Jr., MD, FACR, chief medical officer of the Neiman Health Policy Institute, will provide tools and tips that can add a rewarding research component to any radiologist’s career,” Carlos said. While in private practice, Duszak conducted published studies based on Medicare data to track medical imaging ordering behavior, for example. He will describe how other radiologists can gain access to databases and analytical tools from the Neiman Institute for their own research.

Also on Wednesday, a session on “Publishing and Disseminating Your Research” will be devoted to teaching radiologists how to get their research published. Bruce J. Hillman, MD, FACR, editor of the Journal of the American College of Radiology, will offer guidance on navigating the peer review process. He will also discuss basic skills related to writing, reviewing and editing clinical research. Carlos will follow with advice about using digital and social media to enhance the effectiveness of traditional print publication.

Looking at the entire clinical research pathway, Carlos said she is excited about substance of the material to be presented at its six sessions.

“The course features some of the new large-scale trials, and it points the way for how radiologists can use these research findings to help inform policy, coverage, and advocacy,” she said.

ACR members and radiologists-in-training are encouraged to register for ACR 2016 and to find more program information.