From the Desk of the Executive Director – IWGMI Update

Greetings from the Academy of Radiology Research, and the Coalition for Imaging and Bioengineering Research (CIBR), and thank you for your continued support. This forum is intended to keep our membership and the broader community aware of new developments and updates as they happen with more focus on a singular topic of interest.

-Renée L. Cruea, MPA, Executive Director

It is with great enthusiasm that I share the latest news on Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations as related to the Interagency Working Group on Medical Imaging (IWGMI).

On Thursday, April 21st, the Senate Appropriations Committee released the Committee Report covering the FY17 appropriations for the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill, stating:

The Committee is pleased that OSTP has convened the Interagency Working Group on Medical Imaging as directed in this Committee’s fiscal year 2015 report, Senate Report 113-181. Basic, use-inspired discoveries in core technologies like medical imaging can spur the type of technology-driven jobs and start up activity that will result in sustainable economic growth and drive the Nation’s economy in the coming century. OSTP is directed to provide a report with an update on the Working Group’s activities and recommendations not later than 180 days after the enactment of this act.

-Senate Appropriations Committee

This report language is issued just a few months following the Academy of Radiology Research submitting draft language to the Majority and Minority staffs of the subcommittee requesting that language be included in the bill with regard to the IWGMI.

In review, the Committee’s report retains the three primary points of emphasis sought by the Academy in our draft language:

  • The Committee go on record continuing their support for the IWGMI
  • Recognition of basic, use-inspired discoveries in core technologies like imaging driving economic growth
  • Provision of a report updating the IWGMI’s activities and recommendations within six months after the enactment of the act
    Some History of the Academy and the IWGMI:

In 2012, the ARR developed the framework for a multiagency science initiative called the Medical Imaging Research Initiative (MIRI), similar in scope and ambition to the now-active BRAIN Initiative and the President’s Precision Medicine Initiative.  Like those efforts, it was believed that medical imaging research shared a number of key characteristics that made it ripe for special emphasis within the federal R&D portfolio: highly innovative, transformative patient impact, data intensive, increasingly quantitative, multidisciplinary, and technologically-facing.

The ARR began conversations with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) – the staff office within the White House that coordinates and identifies scientific priorities – about MIRI in 2013.  The OSTP asked the ARR to generate some congressional interest and legislative direction.  As such, the ARR successfully lobbied in 2014 for language to be included in the Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill to establish a MIRI subcommittee under the OSTP/President’s National Science and Technology Council’s (NSTC) Committee on Science (see right; this Council and its subcommittees, made up of Cabinet-level officials, serves the OSTP in setting science and technology policy across the federal government).

The ARR-sponsored language passed Congress in December 2014, and in February 2015 the MIRI subcommittee was formally established via a charter signed by the co-Chairs of the NSTC Committee on Science: Francis Collins (NIH), France Córdova (NSF), and Jo Handelsman (OSTP).

At the first meeting of the IWGMI in February 2015, the Academy outlined three topics for consideration:

  1. Greater standardization of imaging systems and platforms,
  2. Need to build skilled and diverse imaging workforce that embodies clinical
    and STEM demands for imaging science
  3. Cement US competitiveness in the highly-skilled, export driven field of medical imaging technology

On November 5, 2015, the IWGMI held its second meeting, which included a listening session from extramural (i.e., non-federal) stakeholders.  Presenters before the IWGMI from the imaging science community included: the ARR (Renee Cruea), the RSNA (Richard Ehman), the ACR (Mitch Schnall), and the International Society for Strategic Studies in Radiology (IS3R; James Thrall). In addition to other potentially-high impact areas of science, this meeting covered a wide range of topics, including imaging’s role in:

  • Precision medicine
  • Deep learning
  • Quantitative imaging
  • The American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN)

While there were limitations on the influence of an extramural panel, the research acumen of all presenters was recognized, as was the strong relationship with the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB).

Finally, and most recently, a third meeting of the IWGMI was held in March 2016 with a focus on industry stakeholders including CIBR members (Toshiba, Siemens, GE, and Philips), where they focused on key points and recommendations as outlined below:

Industry Points:

  • Precision Medicine-the need to more clearly define the role of imaging
  • Economic Proof- imaging’s relationship with patient outcomes
  • Shift in disease taxonomy
  • Shift from modality to clinical outcomes

Industry Recommendations:

  • Continued collaboration between industry and academia
  • IWGMI could co-host a cross functional workshop with an initial focus point being the Cancer Moon Shot
  • IWGMI should consider initiatives to free of Academic researchers time

As you can see from just a brief overview and history, the Academy has been integral in the establishment of the IWGMI, and credits this involvement, along with the expert engagement of our members as key elements in the continued progression of the initiative.

What’s Next?

The comparable bill in the House has not been considered yet, although action is anticipated in May.  The process in the House may be more protracted along with more general budget disputes with the House leadership and the Appropriations Committee wanting to advance legislation and the Freedom Caucus (formerly known as the Tea Party) wanting to cut spending below levels agreed to in the budget deal negotiated in December 2015.

This process is expected to continue throughout 2016.  However, with this language now released by the Senate committee, the Academy will be in a strong position to continue to work with the Office of Science and Technology Policy, where the IWGMI is housed, to advance the interests of the imaging research community.  With each additional step – passage in the Senate, inclusion in the House bill, passage in the House, and ultimately with enactment of the underlying legislation, the likelihood for success increases.

We will continue to work with the appropriators in both the Senate and the House to support this provision and urge its ultimate enactment.  If you have any questions, comments, etc., please do not hesitate to follow up with me at rcruea@acadrad.org.

Thank you as always for your continued support and engagement.

Best regards,

Renée

Renée L. Cruea, MPA,

Executive Director

Academy of Radiology Research

President

Coalition for Imaging and Bioengineering Research

renee

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