CECI² Testimonials2024-04-24T16:04:58-04:00

Council of Early Career Investigators in Imaging (CECI2)


2023-24 CECI2

“[The Academy] takes us to the background, where we see that it is actually the American people through the government, through NIH that funds us. It made me realize that it’s also our job as researchers to advocate for funding and show everyone that it is worth investing in us because that will lead to improved healthcare and better quality of life.”
Carolina de Aguiar Ferreira, PharmD, PhD
Class of 2023-24, Assistant Professor, Michigan State University

“I think the most beneficial part has been being around like-minded individuals who are all trying to accomplish the same thing and saying, ‘how do we go from where we are to being independent researchers?’ It’s been a really valuable experience to get to talk to my peers.”
Ian Mark, MD, MSM
Class of 2023-24, Neuroradiologist, Mayo Clinic

“I’m always mesmerized by the newer technologies and the values that they bring to the people, but I think CECI² brought a new perspective to my research. Now I’m more aware that it’s not only about what I’m doing and in what direction I’m moving, but it’s also for the future of the research that I’m conducting.”
Amit Gupta, MD, MRMD
Class of 2023-24, Division Chief, Cardiothoracic Imaging, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center

“It has been a very unique program in the sense that it offers something that I haven’t experienced before. What we’ve been taught about is advocacy and the importance of funding, and how we as researchers can impact that funding, which is something that you don’t hear anywhere else.”
Katja De Paepe, MD, PhD
Class of 2023-24, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

2022-23 CECI2

“It is a rare platform to bring experienced investigators from across the country together with early career investigators in an intimate enough setting to really foster communication and collaboration. Talking with investigators, early-career to senior, from such a diverse group of departments was incredibly valuable. I came away with a better understanding of what physicists can do to support radiologists in the clinic and in research and made some career-long connections.”
Megan Jacobsen, PhD
Class of 2022-23, Assistant Professor, University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center

“The Academy holds immense value as it uses events like MedTech23 to bring together their wealth of knowledge, expertise, and experience, with the broader imaging community. With such a diverse pool of talented individuals and resources, the Academy serves as a hub for learning and collaboration. CECI² can be seen as an example of this as participants can tap into a vast array of meetings, mentorship opportunities, fostering both personal and professional growth while also operating in a dynamic exchange of ideas from a culture and community of continued learning.”
Tharakeswara Bathala, MD
CECI² Class of 2022-23, Associate Professor, University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center

“The unique and wonderful opportunity to experience and witness first-hand what medical advocacy consists of, as well as its impact. I am so grateful for this experience that not only educated my perspectives on advocacy, but also led to some amazing networking with professional colleagues and future mentors.”
Bhavika Patel, MD
CECI² Class of 2022-23, Associate Professor, Mayo Clinic

“The Academy provides a great opportunity for investigators, particularly early-career investigators, to step out of their comfort zones and learn “how the sausage is made” or how the governmental process works. CECI² is a unique experience that not only benefits investigators through professional development, but also creates a wonderful platform for meeting peers with whom we may collaborate on future projects.”
Rongxiao Zhang, PhD
CECI² Class of 2022-23, New York Medical College

“The Academy is an extremely energized organization working relentlessly for the betterment of biomedical and imaging research. Research which would in turn help countless patients as well as the healthcare industry in general. This unique mission, combined with their dedicated council programming, motivated me to do more advocacy work of my own, with the goal of moving the needle for imaging research funding.”
Janardhana Ponnatapura, MD
CECI² Class of 2022-23, Wake Forest University

2020-21 CECI2

“While I suspected that interacting with senior members of the Academy would be of high value, I could not have anticipated the level of impact that my classmates would have on my thought processes and career path. Though we've never met in person, [co-CECI²] Jana Ivanidze and I have collaborated by twitter, email, text, phone and even RSNA podcast over the past year and a half. We've encouraged each other to keep submitting grant applications, apply for positions and write papers. I'm incredibly grateful for this peer mentorship that I've received.”
Ashley Elizabeth Prosper, MD
Assistant Professor of Radiology, Section Chief of Cardiothoracic Imaging, University of California, Los Angeles

“The ask me anything sessions were valuable to hear perspectives from multiple people with various backgrounds. Networking was helpful as I actually met people who offered both valuable feedback on my science and grants, but also offered solutions to specific roadblocks I had encountered; for example, I had a vital question answered by a fellow CECI², with the appropriate experience, that would've cost me thousands of dollars for a consultant to answer.”
Kiel Neumann, PhD
Assistant Professor and Director of Radiochemistry, University of Virginia

“I feel really lucky to be a part of the Academy such an outstanding group. It is the only place where I can interact in smaller groups with leaders in Nuclear Medicine in order to discuss future directions in the field, career development, and our role as scientists interacting with government to guide science policy and funding. I have learned as much valuable career information from this group as I have from any scientific meeting that I attend.”
Benjamin M. Larimer, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor,
Division of Advanced Medical Imaging Research
University at Alabama at Birmingham,
Department of Radiology School of Medicine

“The Academy and the CECI program has provided me with a unique opportunity to communicate the importance of Radiology and Biomedical research and advocate for national funding. Importantly, the CECI program has immense value for enhancing training of early career investigators. Through virtual seminars and socials, I have been able to connect with and learn from researchers and leaders in the field of Radiology, with discussions ranging from career and leadership skills to grant application processes. My experience as a part of the CECI class has been invaluable for my future career in biomedical imaging.”
Aisling Chaney, PhD,
Postdoctoral Scholar,
The James lab, Molecular Imaging Program Stanford,
Department of Radiology,
Stanford University, CA

“The Academy and the CECI2 program has been incredibly beneficial in just the short time I have been a member. It brings together researchers from across the country and creates an environment that allows for collaboration and engagement unlike anything I have ever been a part of before. Numerous participants this year are focused on radiopharmaceuticals and by creating an environment where our future research leaders can interact will benefit both the individuals and the SNMMI for decades to come”.
Rustain Morgan, MD
Assistant Professor,
Nuclear Radiology Program Director - Diagnostic Radiology Residency
University of Colorado Department of Radiology

“As an Academy Council Early Career Investigator, I am benefiting in a multitude of ways from the mentorship of senior scientists as well as the support of my peers. As a radiology resident/ nuclear medicine fellow, I was fortunate to receive the SNMMI Blahd Award which supported a research project focused on perfusion MRI in Parkinson disease. My experience as a CECI has been invaluable in adapting the insights from this and other pilot projects into a larger framework serving as the foundation for my first NIH proposal submission”.
Jana Ivanidze, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor,
Department of Diagnostic Radiology Division of Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics Division of Neuroradiology
Molecular Imaging Innovations Institute

2019 CECI2

“The Academy has great value in advocating for more research funding and representing the community to decision makers. We were only one of many organizations advocating on Capitol Hill that day. Without an organization such as the Academy, we would not be represented.”
Steven H. Baete, PhD
NYU/Langone Health

“The events throughout this opportunity, including the NIH visit and meetings on Capitol Hill, helped to unveil how the NIH gets funding from the federal government, and how that funding is distributed to scientists and researchers across the U.S. I now have a greater understanding of the mechanisms in place for new and early career investigators. I also found substantial value in the networking and social activities with both my fellow council member colleagues as well as the industry and academic leaders.”
Rachelle Crescenzi, PhD
Vanderbilt University

“The events throughout this opportunity, including the NIH visit and meetings on Capitol Hill, helped to unveil how the NIH gets funding from the federal government, and how that funding is distributed to scientists and researchers across the U.S. I now have a greater understanding of the mechanisms in place for new and early career investigators. I also found substantial value in the networking and social activities with both my fellow council member colleagues as well as the industry and academic leaders.”
Erin k. Englund, PhD
University of California, San Diego
Sponsored by ISMRM

“I learned to critically consider the impact of my work and express my message in an accessible way. The other council members I met are incredible people, most of whom I would not have had the opportunity to meet if not for this opportunity — I plan to build lifetime relationships with them!”
Audrey Fan, PhD
Stanford University

“It has been an experience like nothing I have ever had, which made for strong (I think) personal growth. I was able to go to the famed NIH and speak with a DIRECTOR! And meet with my Congress people on their turf, which provided perspective. I met some really smart and motivated radiology researchers and am about to begin a new project with one.”
Lesley Flynt, MD
MD Anderson Cancer Center
Sponsored by SNMMI

“My experience with the Academy has been a groundbreaking opportunity to exchange ideas with a national network of researchers and leaders, collectively advocating for increased research funding and the future of radiology.”
Mai-Lan Ho, MD
Nationwide Children’s/Ohio State
Sponsored by The Society for Pediatric Radiology

“The Academy events in DC showed me how to channel my passion for research into advocacy efforts to improve research funding, which are critical to supporting the next generation of imaging scientists. The Academy has empowered us to continue the dialogue between early career investigators, leaders at NIH and members of Congress to support the development of cutting-edge technology that will ultimately advance patient care. I am very grateful to the RSNA and the Academy for their continued support of early career investigators, enabling us to play a key role in sustaining the funding and talent pool that will support continued growth and collaboration between radiologists and imaging researchers.”
Susie Huang, MD
Mass General Hospital
Sponsored by RSNA

“The Academy spring events were a great opportunity to meet with national policy-makers in Capitol Hill and advocate for increasing funding for the NIH and NIBIB. It allowed us to discuss with Senators and Congressional representatives first-hand, with real clinical examples, the positive impact that research funding makes to patient care. In addition, the meetings at the NIH and NIBIB were incredibly informative and I received valuable advice about the grant-application process. The greatest value was in participating in research advocacy at the national level. It opened my eyes to the importance of directly communicating the importance of biomedical imaging research to policy makers.”
Amie Y. Lee, MD
University of California, San Francisco

“It was critical to see the impact of legislators on our research funding, which serves as the lifeblood of academic radiology department innovation. Being able to do our part was also important to help see the work that has gone before us to provide us with the research advancements and opportunities in the field. The Academy provides the leverage for the research efforts in radiology to communicate our value and importance to funding decision makers. Serving as the voice for advancements in the field, it helps to bring scientists and physicians out of the labs and into the presence of leaders who have a profound impact on the future of the field. We hope that these legislators recognize the importance of our collective work and the potential for impact on the health and lives of their constituents.”
Yueh (Ray) Lee, MD, PhD
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

“The Academy offers an event with a breadth that I’ve not seen matched elsewhere. The event focuses on professional development and global service to the greater scientific community. From the extended time spent at the NIH learning how to individually hone and optimize our grant writing skills, to the afternoon on Capitol Hill pitching for budgetary increases to the NIH and NIBIB, each investigator had an opportunity to contribute positively to the future of our medical imaging practice.”
Emily L. Marshall, PhD
University of Chicago
Sponsored by the American Association of Physicists in Medicine

“I experienced things that were never part of medical training to become a successful clinical scientist, not only did this experience increase the awareness for research opportunities, but also built lifelong relationships. The Academy, by providing these opportunities to young investigators is doing a great service both for exposure and advocacy for imaging based research. Both are very novel and unique goals.”
Prashant Nagpal, MD
University of Iowa

“Excellent way to network with other like-minded scientists and academic radiologists in the same career level. The advocacy was eye opening and informed taught me things about the funding process I never knew about, took for granted, and had no idea that I could influence.”
Sumit Narayan Niogi, MD, PhD
Weill Cornell University

“Meeting policy makers on Capitol Hill helped me understand the processes involved in governmental decision-making and how this helps deliver the needs of our healthcare system. It has also provided me the unique opportunity to emphasize the critical impact research has on patient care and community health to government officials and policy makers. In addition, meeting with leaders of NIH centers and the program officers helped me solicit advice on my future grant applications. As an early career investigator, discussion of potential grant proposal opportunities, understanding the review process, and the research goals of NIH centers substantially helps with my grant applications.”
Sam Payabvash, MD
Yale University

“One of the values of participating in this event and council is to simply, and importantly, understand and appreciate the role of the Academy and its relationships with government institutions, industry partners, and patient advocacy groups. The visit to the NIH was very informative and valuable, both in regards to the lectures received as well as the meeting with a program officer. The Capitol Hill Day Meetings were eye-opening, as I had no prior experience or knowledge of what it took to do advocacy work and how important it was. Last but not least, the networking opportunities were unparalleled, allowing us to meet with other early investigators, departmental leaders, industry leaders, and patients/patient advocates.”
Ali Pirasteh, MD
UT Southwestern
Sponsored by SABI (formerly SCBT-MR)

“Meeting other members of the radiology research community in a relatively small setting is very valuable to me. Since the Academy event, I have attended ISMRM, and it was great to see familiar faces and further strengthen those relationships. The Academy also helped me realize other aspects of the role of scientists in our society. In addition to the need of our involvement in advocating for the distribution of resources to fund not only our work, but general scientific advancement.”
Ana Rodriguez-Soto, PhD
University of California, San Diego

“The Academy MedTech event was absolutely fantastic. It incorporated scientific learning, networking, and advocacy and was such a unique and fantastic experience to be a part of. Igot more out of this event than any conference I have attended in the past years. I truly enjoyed working with academic partners, clinicians and scientists, as well as industry to come together for a common goal of promoting imaging in research and clinical care.”
Anna Sorace, PhD
University of Alabama, Birmingham

“I believe that the Academy does a tremendous job advocating for radiology and imaging technologies as well as supporting young and established investigators. One of the biggest problems for me as an early career investigator, is a lack of knowledge and exposure to the opportunities provided by the NIH. Learning about the available NIH opportunities, as well as meeting other investigators and thought leaders in our field is of tremendous importance in my early career development as a clinician investigator.”
Anna Trofimova, MD, PhD
Emory University

“This community of early career investigators is one that most of us had not been exposed to, yet by far the most similar to me among my colleagues in terms of academic drive and research focus. It would be very valuable to stay connected and harness our collective abilities to lobby on behalf of the Academy in the future. Also, to be included in future mentorship opportunities, participation in roundtable discussions and future Capitol Hill visits on behalf of federal research funding support.”
Aradhana M. Venkatesan, MD
MD Anderson Cancer Center

2018 CECI2

“Being a CECI2 awardee offered an incredible opportunity for me to meet new potential collaborators in my career as a neuro interventional radiologist and learn ways of helping advance imaging science. The landscape of federal funding and policy can be extremely daunting, but this experience lifted the veil on the workings of government, as we met with policymakers and their staffs. It was also a fantastic opportunity to discuss grant proposals with NIH faculty familiar with the grant process.”
Dr. Matthew David Alexander, MD
University of Utah

“Working with the Academy as a CECI2 specializing in neuroimaging has given me the opportunity to inform policy-makers about the importance of funding innovative imaging technology development, and also gain invaluable feedback from National Institutes of Health about successful grant applications, most specifically on a recently submitted RO1. I hope to use this experience to continue my professional goal of fundamentally improving healthcare through basic and applied technology research and development.”
Dr. Adam Q. Bauer, PhD
Washington University at St. Louis

“I am excited to serve as a co-chair in the CECI2 Council and help the Academy with their tireless advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill. Research has been a key part of my career thus far, and it is only through continued advocating for NIH funding that this is possible. I hope to bring the same awareness and inspiration to other Early Career Investigators through the Academy and its leadership.”
Samuel J. Galgano, MD
University of Alabama, Birmingham
Co-Chair, Academy Council of Early Career Investigators in Imaging

“Through my experience as a member of the CECI2 class of 2018, I was able to acquire a broader view of the field of academic radiology that I had not really encountered before. I met a broad spectrum of incredible, accomplished colleagues in my class and quickly embraced the mentorship opportunities offered through the Academy. I came back in 2019 as co-chair elect, met more fantastic people, made new friends and learned even more about the opportunities at NIH and the importance of our voice at the Hill. As a co-chair in 2020, I hope to excite more aspiring scientists by making their experience even better than mine. The ever so quickly changing field of radiology needs highly motivated young scientists and I want to help in paving their way.”
Alexander Goehler, MD, PhD
Harvard / Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Co-Chair, Academy Council of Early Career Investigators in Imaging

“A highlight of the multiple-day event was meeting and getting to know the other fellow Early Career Investigators in Imaging as well as the Academy’s leadership and staff. The entire crowd clicked immediately making the few days not only useful for career development but also a lot of fun.”

Dr. Michal Horný, PhD, MSc
Emory University

“Through the NIH meetings, I met people from NIAMS, NINDS, and NIBIB, who gave me invaluable advice and information about writing research grants as an early career investigator. Learning about how to advocate for sustainable NIH funding and participating in the Medical Imaging Showcase on Capitol Hill were also great experiences. I deeply appreciate that the Academy gave me this great opportunity.”
Dr. Hyungseok Jang, PhD
University of California, San Diego

“I am currently starting the second year of my NIH K99/R00 award, so I know that as scientists we often focus on advancing our respective research areas, and neglect educating the general public about our work and its impact on healthcare, which is such a lost opportunity. That is why it was wonderful to be part of the meaningful work of the Academy, gaining understanding of research advocacy and developing partnerships with policymakers, NIH program officers, industry members in the imaging industry, and patient advocacy groups. I found the whole experience to be incredibly beneficial.”
Dr. Feliks Kogan, PhD
Stanford University

“I felt extremely delighted and privileged to be involved in this program! Through the Academy arranging Capitol Hill meetings for us, I understood and experienced the aspects involved in governmental decision-making. And meeting the NIH Directors and Program Officers was an eye-opening first-hand experience about the grant process. I loved each one of the Academy staff. They are all incredible and felt like family. I will carry this experience with me in my research in developing novel PET-based radiopharmaceuticals. Thank you, Academy!”
Dr. Kiran Kumar Solingapuram Sai, PhD
Wake Forest University

“Bringing together Early Career Investigators in Imaging, who have been recognized by their academic department Chairs as having high potential to make an impact in radiological science, has been critical to their expanding of networks, learning from senior mentors, and meeting industry leaders. It has also helped these academics become more familiar with the NIH grant application process and all the hard-working individuals at NIH.
It is a perfect setting to facilitate learning and new collaborations. I know it will benefit these CECI2s, just as it has benefited me. Having this mentorship outside of my own institution has helped me to see ways that I can make a difference.”

Dr. Rebecca Rakow-Penner, MD, PhD
University of California San Diego
Former Co-Chair, Academy Council of Early Career Investigators in Imaging

“Meeting with NIH program officers allowed me to solicit input necessary for my upcoming grant applications. I was also pleased to meet with Senators and Representatives to advocate for cutting-edge imaging research funding, and its capacity to open new frontiers in medicine. I will value this helpful experience as I continue my research career in reducing inequities in radiology in all continents worldwide.”
Dr. Bhavya Rehani, MD
University of California, San Francisco

“Learning to prepare and deliver a scientific presentation for a lay audience was very informative and allowed us to learn critical skills in scientific communication. As a junior investigator, it is critical for us to learn how to accurately communicate our scientific goals and progress without getting bogged down in jargon. This is especially important if your audience is a non-medical/scientific one. The Academy did a wonderful job in coordinating our visits to the NIH, where we had really insightful one-on-one conversations with contacts at different ICs. I am currently preparing my next round of NIH applications and hope to put all that I learned from the CECI2 experience into action”
Dr. Mark S. Shiroishi, MD
University of Southern California

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