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SIIM 2018

Here’s What You Missed


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Given all the recent hype surrounding informatics, anticipation for the 2018 Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM) conference in Washington, D.C., was high. Attendees may have had visions of terminator robots repurposed to produce diagnostic reports, holographic virtual reality reading rooms, or computers that detected blood products in the skull faster than humans dancing in their heads. It may have come as only a mild disappointment, then, for them to discover only one of those was unveiled at SIIM.

This year, the elephant in the conference hall was AI. Nevertheless, SIIM did feature a balance of educational sessions for core knowledge, research presentations on a variety of topics, and experience reports from experts in both academic and private practices. The emphasis of SIIM 2018 was on inspiring collaboration, and this theme was evident in many ways.

Residents, Fellows, and Doctoral Student Community

The conference saw the launch of the Residents, Fellows, and Doctoral Student (RFDS) Community, with a new emphasis on training and research. Comprising one in ten of the conference attendees, residents and fellows networked with key leaders in informatics through a speed mentoring session and informal discussions over snacks. Residents, fellows, and students also presented cutting-edge research, and the best oral paper presentations and posters received awards.

Trainee Research Awards

Each year, three to four trainees receive the New Investigator Research Award for outstanding research work. This year, Peter Chang, MD, from the University of California, San Francisco, Brianna Vey, MD, from Emory University, and Sehyo Yune, MD, from Massachusetts General Hospital, received the travel award along with funding to be put toward travel to Washington, D.C., to present their work.

The award for best RFDS paper at the conference went to Simukayi Mutasa, MD, a resident at Columbia University Medical Center, for his work on “Predicting Breast Cancer Molecular Subtype with an MRI Data Set.” Traditionally thought to be possible only by pathology, his group showed that imaging features that have eluded human radiologists could be captured using a neural network to predict breast cancer subtypes.

College Students Win Hackathon

Since 2014, SIIM has hosted an annual Hackathon at the conference. Over the course of three days, teams started the idea generation process from scratch. They brainstormed and wrote software code, which culminated in a showcase demonstration on the last day of the conference. The most impressive takeaway was learning that coding skills are only secondary — although professional developers participate in the Hackathon, the best ideas are often generated by the trainees and younger creative thinkers.

A team of college students from Marquette University and the Medical College of Wisconsin joined forces to develop four projects. One of them, “AI Ready Research Portal,” took home the grand prize. The software they wrote over the three days of SIIM allowed users to discover a dataset for AI research by combining radiology reports, pathology, and genetics queries.

Collaborating Between Radiologist, Patients, and Algorithms

The ACR has consistently called for radiologists to take ownership of the patient experience both inside and outside of the reading room. It should come as no surprise, then, that in his opening of the general session, “e-Patient” Dave deBronkart urged the audience to help patients get the data, technology, and autonomy necessary to improve their health.

In line with the theme of inspiring collaboration, the closing session keynote placed AI as the emerging tool that can help radiology deliver precision applications which embrace the full healthcare team and are geared towards specific patient needs — something that can happen once radiology as a profession is ready to move past the hype. SIIM 2018 showed us that a wave of change is coming, and today’s radiology residents and fellows sit at the precipice of the better medical imaging of tomorrow.

Chen HowardPo-Hao (Howard) Chen, MD, is a radiology chief resident at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

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