MRI specialists offered the best of medicine and science at ESMRMB 2017
By Mélisande Rouger
The 34th meeting of the European Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine and Biology (ESMRMB) took place in Barcelona on October 19-21, as world-renowned experts unveiled cutting-edge techniques and tackled every aspect of modern MR practice and research.
Despite the political turmoil in Spain, over 900 delegates attended the most important event of the specialty in Europe, to hear the latest on machine learning, neuroradiology, quantitative relaxation time measurement and susceptibility weighted imaging vs. quantitative susceptibility mapping, among others. Over 730 abstracts were submitted for the occasion, a +26,4% rise from last year and an all-time high in the history of the meeting.
“We won’t let violence stop us,” said ESMRMB President, Dr Rik Achten from Ghent/ BE, as he kick-started the conference on Thursday October 19, a few days after clashes with the police amidst independence claims in Catalonia.
Participants paid tribute to those of their peers who helped create the society and establish MRI as a respected field in medicine and basic science.
Dr Milan Hajek from Prague, course organiser for the Lectures on MR and long-time member of the society, and Dr Wolfgang Steinbrich from Basel/CH, former School of MRI programme director and ESMRMB president, were both awarded a fellowship of the society for their commitment to advancing MRI.
Dr Aarend Heerschap from Nijmegen/ NL, received the honorary membership of the society, “in recognition of his longstanding commitment to our society and great contribution in the field of molecular and biological imaging,” ESMRMB past president, Xavier Golay from London/ UK, said.
To round off the ceremony, Dr Heerschap held the Sir Peter Mansfield Lecture, in which he reviewed the most exciting advances in the field, including spectroscopy, MR Fingerprinting and ultra-high field MRI.
With 27 Scientific Sessions, 102 ePosters, 69 Paper Posters, 28 Clinical Review Posters, and 255 Lightning Talks, in which attendees could meet the authors, the scientific programme delved into hot topics of MR science, such as extracting and using big data from clinical MR-led studies.
Big Data use coupled with MRI will help improve results from cohort studies, according to Dr. Fabian Bamberger, from Tubingen/DE, who shared details from the German National Cohort MRI study during the plenary session on Friday. The study, which is funded by the German government, will provide comprehensive characterisation and phenotyping in more than 30,000 participants undergoing 3T whole-body MRI. “It’s a unique opportunity to substantially impact imaging-based risk stratification, leading to personalised and precision medicine,” Bamberg said.
Paul Matthews from London/UK presented the UK Biobank prospective longitudinal study, an independent project run by academic volunteers, which includes 500,000 individuals who will be followed up until 2030. The study already found 1,262 genome-wide associations from 3,144 GWAS of multimodal brain imaging phenotypes from 9,707 participants. Matthews believes results should help define risk factors, biomarkers of pre-symptomatic disease and contributory mechanisms for important and common disease, as well as opportunities to investigate gene-environment associations with phenotypic markers and longer-term outcomes.
Another highlight of the conference was the joint session between the ESMRMB and the Chinese Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (CSMRM) on state-of-the-art brain imaging. In a fascinating presentation, Dr. Qiyong Gong from Chengdu unveiled the secrets of psychoradiology, a field in which MRI can help diagnose, treat and follow up mental illnesses.
Delegates were also invited to discuss quantitative relaxation time measurement, as two eminent radiologists, Dr. P.A. Rinck from Mougins, France, and Dr. Siegfried Trattnig from Vienna, Austria, confronted their views and welcomed input from the audience.
Young delegates were offered clues on how not to write a paper in the career session, as Dr. Patrick J. Cozzone from Marseilles, France, and Dr. Andreas Trabesinger from Zurich, Switzerland, rivalled in spirit in entertaining talks. At the end of the session, panellists from the industry also gave participants advice on career perspectives outside academia.
Industry-sponsored symposia organised by Siemens, GE Healthcare and Philips featured some of the most recent works with cutting-edge imaging techniques and equipment such as GRASP, MAGNETOM and arterial spin labelling, which is becoming increasingly important in identifying early features of Alzheimer’s disease.
Delegates had many opportunities to network during and in parallel to the meeting. Those who could not attend the ‘Meet the experts’ official gathering on Thursday night had the chance to meet on a more informal note Friday night, as Dr. Achten kicked his bass during a rock gig with his band the T2 Allstars.
“We’re here to meet old friends and make new ones; it really is a unique opportunity for European MR specialists, and I highly encourage them to come back next time,” he said.
The ESMRMB will hold a joint meeting together with the ISMRM on June 16-21, 2018, in Paris. The next ESMRMB annual meeting will take place in Rotterdam on October 3-5, 2019.