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Q&A with Dr. Vasken Dilsizian, 2019-2020 president for SNMMI

por Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | June 18, 2019
From the June 2019 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

HCB News: Do you anticipate more growth of nuclear medicine beyond the U.S. in years to come?
VD: Yes, I anticipate expanding the approach of first diagnostic and subsequent therapeutic applications of radioisotopes, which was so successfully implemented with the use of radioactive iodine for hyperthyroidism and thyroid cancer since the 1940s. More recent approaches involve radio-immunotherapy as well as the treatment of neuroendocrine tumors and prostate cancer. I predict that the therapeutic component of the nuclear medicine practice will grow to where radiation oncology and immunotherapy is today, and thereby, need highly skilled subspecialists to perform these procedures.

HCB News: What are the biggest challenges for SNMMI members today?

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VD: One of the biggest challenges in recent years was job opportunities for new graduates from nuclear medicine residency programs. However, with the advent of new technologies and radiotracers, the number of medical students pursuing a career in radiology and nuclear medicine is growing. In addition, more and more radiology and nuclear medicine residents are now pursuing a dual-board (American College of Radiology and the American Board of Nuclear Medicine) training pathway. The latter is a consequence of the recent surge in employment opportunities for graduates who have expertise in interpreting hybrid PET/CT and PET/MR imaging.

The other challenge for the society is that it has to be nimble and willing to change with time in order to achieve perfection. Recently, the Society launched its Value Initiative in 2018, which is a strategic plan to advance the field in, 1) quality of practice, 2) research and discovery, 3) attract high quality candidates to the field and workforce, 4) advocacy at the Capitol Hill and CMS for reimbursement and, 5) Outreach to our patients, referring physicians, patient advocacy groups, and hospital administrators.

The society also established the Clinical Trials Network (CTN) in order to facilitate the effective use of molecular imaging for high-quality clinical trials through standardization, coordination, and education for drug development and regulatory approval. The CTN assists with industry-sponsored clinical trials and Orphan Drug designation.

HCB News: What developments are you excited about with this year’s conference?
VP: To witness and learn all about new advances in technologies and radiopharmaceuticals, meet the new graduates from residency programs and diplomates of the ABNM, hear the issues and concerns of the SNMMI members in order to serve their needs and meet their expectations as the incoming president of the society.

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