The Academy Today and Tomorrow
As a unique voice representing the collective interests of the medical imaging research community in Washington, DC, the Academy has had a significant impact since its founding more than two decades ago. We bring together representatives from the medical imaging community, academia, industry, and agencies across the government who all strive to collaborate and advocate for critically important funding of biomedical imaging research. Throughout the years, the Academy has raised awareness around biomedical imaging and has secured support for increased federal funding of life-saving research through tireless advocacy and exciting initiatives, events and symposia.
The Academy was originally formed to promote the establishment of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and we’ve continued to enjoy a close working relationship with NIBIB since it’s inception in 2002. We were so pleased to welcome the NIBIB’s newest Director, Dr. Bruce Tromberg, in 2019. One exciting collaboration between NIBIB, the Academy and many various stakeholders is the continuing conversation around the development and advancement of a potential diagnostic “cockpit” pilot, which could empower precision medicine by bringing together the latest diagnostic sensor technology and AI-based computing, ultimately matching the best treatment to patients, improving health outcomes and accelerating innovative medical imaging technology.
Important initiatives, like the “cockpit” concept, act as a powerful tool to promote broad recognition of the importance of the research performed in the imaging research community and to stimulate federal funding which benefits all imaging stakeholders. We anticipate this initiative will help provide funding that allows ground-breaking new imaging concepts and technology to become a reality. Since the doubling of the its budget in 2003, the NIH experienced many years of relatively flat funding. Through the efforts of the Academy and the biomedical research advocacy community in Washington, this finally changed in 2015. For FY16 and for every fiscal year since, including the FY2020 budget, which was signed into law on Dec 20, 2019, Congress has provided the NIH with robust increased funding, providing an important investment for patients, families and medical research. This sustained commitment to increased funding has taken us from $30.3 billion in FY15 to $41.7 in FY20, an increase of $11.5 billion in 5 years that expands NIH’s capacity to support foundational and life-saving research. This is a tremendous testament to the advocacy efforts of the Academy and its coalition partners, as well as to researchers across the country whose efforts give patients and families hope for a healthier future. We must maintain this momentum and support from Congress. The Academy’s advocacy on Capitol Hill is essential to ensure that funding is maintained and increased for years to come.
Another critically important task of the Academy is our engagement of early to mid-career investigators in advocacy, which includes providing them with information about the legislative process and its potential effects on their research careers. I am very proud of our ever-expanding Council of Early Career Investigators in Imaging (CECI2), which will hit over 100 members in 2020, as well as our Council of Distinguished Investigators, which currently boasts over 400 mid-to-late career investigators. We are excited to see the continued growth of these two Councils that increase investigators’ awareness of and participation in policy making and the legislative processes that directly affect their research, as well as the future funding of new imaging technologies.
The Academy’s efforts provide a critical investment in the future of radiology and imaging research. Over the next two years as President, I will strive to ensure that the work of the Academy continues to expand and evolve, as the full collective power of our membership is brought to bear on new opportunities, collaborations and initiatives that advance medical imaging for the benefit of patient care.
Mitchell D. Schnall, MD, PhD
The Academy for Radiology & Biomedical Imaging Research