The Gold Medal is awarded by the BOC to an individual for distinguished and extraordinary service to the ACR or to radiology. View the list of past recipients.
JAMES A. BRINK, MD, FACR
As the ACR celebrates its 100th anniversary, it’s only fitting that one of the Gold Medal recipients this year has played a major role in the College’s past, partly by helping forge radiology’s role in the future. James A. “Jim” Brink, MD, FACR, the Juan M. Taveras professor of radiology at the Harvard Medical School in Boston, served as ACR BOC chair from 2016–18 and as ACR president from 2018–19. During his tenure as BOC chair, he had the foresight to establish the ACR Data Science Institute® in anticipation of the oncoming wave of AI. The DSI has matured into a recognized force in the AI community.
Brink has been described as a “leader in the field and a pleasure to work with — both at the ACR and in his other roles.” Some recommendations for the award come from those who have known him since the mid-1980s, including this one: “Jim was instantly recognizable as an extremely intelligent and well-mannered chap. His work has been exceptional over many years.”
Brink’s position as chair of the recently merged radiology departments at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), and his academic rank as a full professor at Harvard Medical School, more than attest to his reputation and impact. He currently holds the position of enterprise director of radiology for the Mass General Brigham (MGB) Health System. In that capacity, he holds direct responsibility for two large academic departments of radiology at MGH and BWH and a number of smaller community hospital departments. One nominator says, “This is a rather unique circumstance that bespeaks the high regard in which these organizations hold his administrative capabilities.”
Brink started his career with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University and a medical degree from Indiana University before completing his residency and fellowship at MGH in 1990. He joined the faculty at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University School of Medicine, where he rose to the rank of associate professor prior to joining the faculty at Yale University in 1997. He served as chair of the diagnostic radiology department at Yale from 2006–13 before returning to MGH as radiologist-in-chief.
Professional organizations including the ACR rely on member volunteers to accomplish their missions. Brink is an exemplar for his willingness to serve, one colleague points out. For the American Roentgen Ray Society, Brink served on its governing board and then as president. For the ACR, he served on innumerable committees and commissions before being elected chair of the BOC and then serving as president. He also served as the chair of the ACR Commission on Body Imaging.
Brink is a fellow of the ACR, as well as the Society for Advanced Body Imaging. He has been awarded gold medals from other organizations in the field, as well as honorary memberships in several international radiological societies. In 2020, he was elected a Distinguished Emeritus Member by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements for his broad experience in medical imaging, including the use and management of imaging resources. He has specific interest and expertise in issues related to the monitoring and control of medical radiation exposure.
The ACR’s continued relevance as a professional organization relies on both its organizational excellence and the overall success of the radiology profession. By his attention to staff support at the College and encouragement for professional development, Brink has played an important role in ensuring the ACR will continue to be the voice of radiology for its tens of thousands of members — and an employer of choice for the best talent in a very competitive market.
Another nominator says: “As a person, Dr. Brink is unassuming, outgoing and friendly. He treats everyone in a fair and open manner and has terrific support from members of his departments — both clinical and support staff. In summary, Jim continues to be an outstanding radiologist and person who has served our specialty. He has been an invaluable player within the ACR over many years, and I support this award for him with the highest enthusiasm.”
Brink received the news of the award with his customary humility. “The ACR is arguably the most impactful professional organization for our specialty, and it is a very special honor and privilege to receive its Gold Medal,” he says. “I have great respect for the tireless effort and diverse talents of the College’s many leaders — and many with skills that extend well beyond my own. Thank you for recognizing me in this way, but I wish I could place the medal around the necks of all of you!”
CAROLYN C. MELTZER, MD, FACR, FAAWR
Labeled a “game-changer” for her pioneering work in the field of radiology, Carolyn C. Meltzer, MD, FACR, FAAWR, is described as “a trailblazing leader who has done it all” — a fact evidenced by her 117-page curriculum vitae submitted by one of her nominators for the 2023 ACR Gold Medal. Meltzer joins an elite group of innovative leaders who have inspired people across science, medicine and radiology. She has made her mark not only in her profession but also in two other areas she is passionate about: diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and mentorship.
Meltzer has built her research and clinical career as a neuroradiologist and a nuclear medicine physician with expertise in PET imaging. “I’ve always been fascinated by the brain as the next frontier,” she says. As a cash-strapped medical student at the start of her career in the 1990s, she volunteered as a subject in clinical trials at Johns Hopkins Medical Center. Her persistence eventually led to an opportunity to work on the first combined PET/CT scanner in the world at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where she would help lead the clinical evaluation of applications for cancer.
Today Meltzer serves as dean of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, where she was appointed in March 2022 after being selected from among 130 applicants. She has shared plans to grow the program, which has about 2,300 faculty members. Meltzer previously served for 15 years as the chair of radiology and imaging sciences at the Emory School of Medicine, which counted more than 3,300 faculty members, including over 200 in the radiology department, at the end of her tenure. In 2020, she was named chief diversity and inclusion officer for the Emory University School of Medicine.
One colleague who nominated her describes Meltzer as “an internationally recognized scholar and cherished transformational and visionary leader who has not only conducted groundbreaking research in cancer imaging and neurosciences but also promoted a progressive agenda for academic advancement, leadership and inclusion of women and underrepresented minorities in medicine.”
Meltzer was awarded fellowship in the ACR in 2007 and served as a member of the BOC for six years. Among her numerous contributions on committees and task forces, she served as chair of the Commission on Neuroradiology and the inaugural chair for the Commission on Research.
Her academic output includes what one nominator called a “staggering” 70-plus grants from the National Institutes of Health, which she has served as a principal investigator, co-investigator or consultant. Meltzer has written more than 185 peer-reviewed publications and 266 abstracts for national and international conferences, served more than 70 national and international visiting professorships and delivered more than 200 invited lectures at national and international conferences.
Another nominator calls Meltzer “a role model and tireless advocate for the advancement of our field, and specifically, the diversity imperative.” By her own count, Meltzer has mentored more than 100 people throughout her career. Among numerous recognitions, in 2021 Meltzer received the American Association for Women in Radiology Marie Sklodowska-Curie Award and the Academy for Radiology and Biomedical Imaging Research Gold Medal. In 2020, she received the Radiology Research Alliance Innovation and Leadership Award from the Association of University Radiologists, which had awarded her a Gold Medal in 2018. She also received a Gold Medal from the American Society of Neuroradiology and the Outstanding Researcher Award from the RSNA in 2018.
Meltzer says DEI has been part of her values for as long as she can remember, and her passion for social justice was amplified by her feeling of being “a bit of an oddity” as a female in male-dominated fields, from the time she played competitive chess in high school and well into her early days in neuroradiology. “I was thinking how much better our field would be if we could diversify and welcome all talent,” she says. “So as I’ve moved into leadership positions, I have been very intentional about creating an inclusive environment in which all may thrive. At Emory, we became sort of a magnet for diverse talent at every level, from residency to senior leadership positions. I truly believe it was our advantage to be able to solve complex problems.”
EDWARD I. BLUTH, MD, FACR
Described as an enthusiastic leader within the ACR since his involvement with the College dating back to 1974, Edward I. Bluth, MD, FACR, has been a part of more than 200 publications, has held numerous leadership roles within the ACR and other radiology organizations such as the AMA and the New Orleans Radiology Society, and has been an active leader in organizing and driving positive change for the profession.
Bluth started his studies at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating as part of the class of 1967, before advancing his studies further at the Downstate Medical Center at the State University of New York (SUNY) to get his medical degree. It was his fascination with the history of medicine that got him thinking about joining the medical field, a passion he confirmed while attending classes at SUNY.
“I was introduced to radiology when I took a fourth-year clerkship as a medical student at Downstate,” Bluth says. “The elective was in my cousin Irwin Bluth’s radiology department. He was an excellent general radiologist in Brooklyn. He showed me that a radiologist was actually a doctor’s doctor, and that the radiologist plays a major role in the delivery of quality medical care in all aspects of medicine.” He returned to the University of Pennsylvania for his radiology residency.
In the ACR, Bluth served in many capacities culminating with his term on the BOC from 2011–2017 as chair of the Commission on Human Resources. When he entered the role, the main focus was dealing with relations between the allied health professionals and radiology. However, Bluth decided to expand the commission’s agenda by focusing on noneconomic challenges radiologists face.
One of the ways the commission did this was through the introduction of thought papers that featured volunteer appointed committee members writing about the problems radiologists encounter outside of economics. These papers focused on issues including burnout, retirement and gender equity. The papers were published in the JACR® and the goal was to create not a single solution, but a wide range of options for consideration.
One of Bluth’s proudest accomplishments as chair of the Commission on Human Resources was introducing a new annual survey to help determine and accurately measure workforce needs in the radiology community. Bluth was critical in helping design the survey questions and drafting the manuscripts, getting the results out to the public as soon as possible. He also served the ACR as a member of the CSC from 2000–11, and the nominating committee from 1996–97.
Bluth has been a member of the staff at the Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans since 1977 and is now chair emeritus. He served for 14 years as a member of its board of managers and board of governors and was chair of the radiology department for seven years. His radiology sub-specialty has been diagnostic US. Among other significant academic achievements, he was responsible for leading the national panel that developed and published the first internationally accepted duplex carotid criteria for grading carotid stenosis. He has been a nationally and internationally invited lecturer and visiting professor and serves as professor of radiology at the Ochsner Clinical School of the University of Queensland School of Medicine and, in the past, served as clinical professor at Tulane University School of Medicine.
Even though he has had success his entire career, Bluth still has goals he’d like to accomplish. He is focused on ensuring that accurate radiology workforce assessments continue and making sure the information is available to ACR members.
“I also still want to help ensure that the value of radiology technologists and the role they play in developing and offering radiology services continues to be better appreciated,” he says. “I want to emphasize that working in organized medicine can make a difference in our lives and can influence the practice of medicine and the delivery of healthcare.”
He has found his work rewarding because it helps advance the field of radiology, and he couldn’t be happier to see his decades of hard work recognized with an ACR Gold Medal. “It’s a major honor, and I’m humbled and appreciative,” Bluth says. “I feel my life’s work in the pursuit of improving the practice of radiology has been validated by this award.”
The Honorary Fellowship award recognizes the contributions to radiology by individuals who are ineligible for ACR Fellowship but deserving of high recognition. View the list of past recipients.
RICHARD PÖTTER, MD
Richard Pötter, MD, is a professor (emeritus) and chair (retired) with the department of radiation oncology at the Medical University Vienna General Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center in Vienna, Austria. He started his professional career after earning a medical degree in 1975 from the University of Münster, Germany, where he also studied psychology and philosophical and social sciences with a dissertation on multidisciplinary ambulatory health centers in the Netherlands.
After initially training in surgery, internal medicine and psychotherapy, he saw the light and became a diagnostic radiologist and radiation oncologist in a period when volumetric imaging started to change radiotherapy dramatically. It is this introduction of volumetric imaging and the ability to use and incorporate MRI in radiation oncology treatment planning and guidance that Pötter considers one of the greatest accomplishments of his career.
“It was the first time in the world that we were able to build the use of MRI systematically into radiation oncology, based on an MRI scanner installed in the Vienna radiation oncology department in 1998,” he says. “We found that some treatment concepts had to be adapted. In particular, for cervix cancer, we created a new concept, which was a response-adapted treatment of cervical malignancies, and then published recommendations. To go from imaging into treatment planning, to make a paradigm on one tumor site and then go through the whole process, from technological innovation and providing evidence to standard clinical practice, is valuable and important.”
The breakthrough work was achieved with benchmarking trials on MRI-guided adaptive radiotherapy in cervical cancer, part of what is known as the EMBRACE studies. From its headquarters in the Vienna hospital, the EMBRACE research put a special focus on improving clinical outcome.
Throughout his career, Pötter has volunteered and collaborated with organizations like the ACR and the European SocieTy for Radiation and Oncology (ESTRO), including serving as president of the Groupe Européen de Curiethérapie-ESTRO. “It’s extremely important for both personal and professional development to volunteer and serve outside of your practice and institutions,” Pötter says. With the achievements he has amassed during his career, he has experienced the value of networking and collaboration. “The international group we had in developing guidelines for cervix cancer treatment was very communicative,” he notes. “It is for this reason that we were able to create good guidelines.”
Pötter has also been active in teaching and education. “I like to show people a skill they can use and then see them grow,” he says. As a manager of the ESTRO School of Radiotherapy and Oncology from 2006–16, he helped to create a comprehensive program for postgraduate education. “In ESTRO, we have a tradition of teaching courses — not just doing presentations but being part of the faculty for a course over three to five days with many interactive parts,” Pötter says. “We learned from each other and had motivated students, and I enjoyed that, as a teacher, very much.”
As an author and researcher, Pötter has contributed more than 470 peer-reviewed publications to scientific journals and served as clinical editor for Radiotherapy & Oncology from 2005–14. With these and all his other accomplishments, accolades, awards and honors — at least 15 honors to date — when asked how he has managed to protect his well-being and prevent burnout, he says: “I’ve also asked myself this from time to time. There are a lot of challenges you have to meet, but this includes also a lot of rewarding activities. And I was happy to have a large family and a great wife. Certainly that’s helped a lot.”
DISTINGUISHED ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
The ACR Distinguished Achievement Award recognizes highly notable service to the College and the profession, or other action or achievement at the national level that reflects in a uniquely favorable manner on the ACR and radiology. View the list of past recipients.
ROBERT J. ACHERMANN, JD
This year’s ACR Distinguished Achievement awardee is Robert J. “Bob” Achermann, JD, who has served as the executive director of the California Radiological Society (CRS) for much of his nearly 40-year career. Achermann has worked side-by-side with the state society leadership, successfully championing difficult policy issues in diverse areas of healthcare, including occupational licensing and medical malpractice reform, and has advised multiple ACR board chairs throughout his career. He has served as advisor to many national ACR leaders over that span as well.
Achermann has been described as a “respected legislative advocate” and having a “calm sense of logic and reason on some very controversial issues.” Some recommendations for the award came from those who have known Achermann during his 26-year tenure as a lobbyist for the CRS. “In this capacity he had a great pulse on legislative issues confronting all of radiology,” one CRS colleague says. Another CRS colleague says of Achermann, “Bob has been one of the icons of legislative and regulatory support to the house of radiology.”
Achermann has worked tirelessly alongside his physician partners in influencing elected officials, state and federal regulatory agencies and insurance companies to ensure that payment policy and regulation support the delivery of high-value imaging. Among some of the issues Achermann has navigated the CRS through are:
1) Opposition to an effort to eliminate routine screening mammography to women age 40 to 49.
2) Leadership of a coalition to support the passage of the physician self-referral law in California with a subsequent bill to ban suspect leasing arrangements.
3) Support of legislation to affirm the contractual relationship between hospitals and members of the medical staff limiting unilateral capricious actions by hospitals to terminate or offer an exclusive contract (i.e., to radiologists).
4) Work to limit the impact of final legislation in California on out-of-network reimbursement to radiologists by providing better reimbursement levels.
5) Coordination of objections, together with the ACR, to Health Care Finance Administration rules allowing nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists to perform and be reimbursed for diagnostic imaging procedures without physician supervision in California.
Achermann’s reputation as a powerful and effective advocate for radiologists and the patients they serve is known well beyond his home state of California. Achermann was always a familiar and welcome face and voice at the Western States Caucus of the ACR annual meetings. One CRS colleague says, “Whenever one of the councilors had difficulty explaining California issues that impacted other states, Bob was always there to provide concise and understandable explanations.”
Several ACR BOC chairs have relied on Achermann for his insight and assistance in appropriately directing controversial issues facing the College. According to former BOC Chair James P. Borgstede, MD, FACR, “Bob possessed an outstanding ability to guide and creatively think through complex socioeconomic and governmental issues. This ability has been invaluable to not only the CRS and Western states but also the entire ACR.”