Research is a major component of the life of an academic radiologist and is part of a successful department. There are multiple aspects to research, as presented in the next section, and most can contribute in different ways. Not all radiologists or nuclear medicine physicians are interested in research, and there is nothing wrong with that as we need clinically focused partners to support other activities, but it is a real pleasure to see that more and more of our new radiologists have a keen interest in performing research, and some of them hold a PhD or engage in research methodology programs.
Research is also a question of opportunity, and not everyone will have successful projects. But as long as we have the curiosity to ask “why”, and by repeated exposure to a clinical question, we’ll want to find an answer. And this will lead us into research. Not everyone has the time or ability to build a major grant, but there is no trivial research, and even without funding, it’s wonderful to see people coming with answers and solutions to day-to-day problems. This is also research. And from finding these responses will come the desire to communicate the results to the world and will lead to presentations and publications.
Our role in academic centres is to generate and sustain the enthusiasm for research, small or big, and mainly make sure that we don’t lose the power of asking “why”.
In our department, many radiologists, fellows or residents are involved in individual research projects, or larger multicentric researches in collaboration with clinicians; we have several more structures poles of research, such as:
- The Imaging Research Centre (IRC) at St Joseph Hospital, whose goal is the assessment of normal and diseased tissue microstructure and the resultant modulation of tissue metabolism that ensues. The research is done through development of novel magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and in vivo nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy methodologies. In addition to MR approaches, recent developments have included focus on multi-modal imaging. This is currently done using a PET/CT system in the IRC.
- Nuclear Medicine, in collaboration with the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization (CPDC) with research in five broad areas: 1) radiopharmaceutical development, 2) personalized cancer care by in-vivo characterization of tumors & treatment response, 3) advanced cardiac diagnostic imaging, 4) body composition assessment with a focus on bone mineralization and structure, 5) development of imaging detectors and methodologies.
- Medical Imaging Informatics Centre at McMaster (MIIRC@M), a structure where radiologists, fellows and residents interested in informatics research would have access to some fundamental resources, to bring together clinicians and engineers in order to bridge the gap between clinical studies and computer sciences; this allows to identify and solve specific issues in Medical Imaging and serve as common cement to all involved in research.