True to tradition, on the last day of the ECR2019, incoming ESR President Boris Brkljačić, professor of radiology and vice-dean at University of Zagreb School of Medicine, Zagreb, Croatia, and chair of the Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology of University Hospital ‘Dubrava’ in Zagreb presented what's in the works looking ahead to ECR2020.
For ECR 2020 the stage is set with the introduction of the ECR2020 limited edition poster with artwork by the award-winning Canadian illustrator Peter Diamond, depicting a young woman looking at a small object floating above her open palm.
He explained the theme resembles Rembrandt’s artwork, with sharp light and dark contrast, and is in good accordance with the slogan for ECR 2020: ‘A Clear Vision for Radiology’. The small floating object represents artificial intelligence, which will continue to be an important component of the congress, and the names of the ECR 2020 ‘ESR meets’ countries are visible at the bottom of the poster. The 2020 poster contains fewer colours and illustrations compared to the 2019 poster, and is concordant with the visual style of the ESR’s main scientific publication, the journal European Radiology.
"I am very fortunate to have selected excellent Programme Planning Committee members, who are hard-working and dedicated experts in their fields," said president Brkljačić in a statement. "Planning has already been running at full speed for a few months in order to create a well-balanced programme of very high-quality professional, educational and scientific content. New Horizons Sessions, State of the Art Symposia and Special Focus Sessions have already been selected and mostly created; they are very relevant and balanced, so that young radiologists and experts in particular radiological fields will have interesting sessions to choose from in all areas of radiology. Emerging and hot topics will be covered, like lung cancer screening, artificial intelligence, stroke diagnosis and treatment, and many others. I expect that the plenary/honorary sessions should be the highlight of the congress, as they are interesting for all participants, regardless of their age and expertise."
He highlighted that breast imaging and interventional radiology will also continue to have important focus in the programme and he will strive to create a balance, attractive for all participants, so that all areas of radiology will be represented, without preference for special areas of interest.
The Cube was very successful in 2018, it has been expanded a lot for ECR 2019 and it will be kept and refined even more at ECR 2020. Interventional radiology has a great future; it is one of the few areas where radiologists are directly and actively involved in the treatment of patients, so IR has to be well represented at every ECR. "I hope that the Cube will attract many students to go into radiology, and many residents to become involved in interventional radiology" he stated.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning will be at the centre of attention once more, since their importance in radiology is very high and all future congresses will have to include multiple AI-related sessions. He also announced that one of the ECR 2020 Academies will be dedicated to artificial intelligence.
"The ‘regular’ version for ECR 2020 will be chaired by the ESR Past President, Prof. Paul M. Parizel, and it is well known that Paul is an innovative person with many original ideas, so I am sure that participants will enjoy the quiz a lot. The junior quiz will be chaired by a young cardiac radiologist from Slovenia, Maja Pirnat" he stated.
Canada will be one ‘ESR meets’ country in 2020, for the first time ever. Dr. Brkljačić stated that Canada has a very strong and well organised national radiology society and many excellent radiologists. "I am convinced that the programme that the Canadian Association of Radiologists will provide will be very interesting for ECR participants, who will have the opportunity to find out more about radiology in Canada and learn more about this huge and beautiful country."
For the second time, after twelve years, Israel will be an ‘ESR meets’ country. "Israel has been somewhat underrepresented so far at the ECR; it is a land of scientific innovations, sometimes referred to as the start-up nation, and many things that we use in everyday radiological and medical practice were invented in Israel. It has a very active and well organised radiology association who have already created a very attractive programme. Both Canadian and Israeli presentations will deal with innovations, technology, and artificial intelligence" he stated.
"My home country, Croatia," says Dr. Brkljačić, "was already an ESR meets country in 2009. I have therefore decided to present two smaller, neighbouring Slavic countries, Slovenia and Slovakia, which have not yet been ‘meets countries’, together in a single session with Croatia. These three countries have many similarities in terms of their medical systems, the practice of radiology and their history in general." The presentations from Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia will deal with cardiovascular and interventional radiology and interventional neuroradiology.
Dr. Brkljačić stated he is very happy that over recent years, the radiographers’ programme has grown considerably, as has the participation of radiographers. A total of 2,177 radiographers and radiography students, from 75 countries, attended ECR 2018 and pre-registration figures for ECR 2019 looked amazing, with an expected increase in radiographers’ attendance of about 20%. "The ECR has now become one of the largest international gatherings of radiographers, and I look forward to receiving final attendance numbers."
A similar success can be announced for medical physicists and nuclear medicine physicians; their numbers are also growing continuously, and I am very glad that the ESR has managed to involve important partners more and more, and that they are increasingly feeling at home at the ECR.
The part of the programme already created contains dedicated special focus sessions for radiographers, physicists and hybrid imaging physicians, and professional sessions will also deal with these fields. "I am also sure that the joint ESR-RSNA session on all aspects of diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of patients with stroke will be very attractive for participants, and of very high quality" stated Dr. Brkljačić.
"Of course, there will again be a great number of joint sessions with various partner societies, but these are still being negotiated."
The ECR Programme Planning Committee is trying hard to represent all relevant novelties in radiology, and the programme is open for last-minute changes in case some hot topic emerges. "We will try to present the new challenges, especially in New Horizons Sessions, but also in other parts of the programme. I plan to attract many participants to the noon plenary sessions, as their format will be changed considerably in 2020; the lectures will be given by non-radiologists, and will be very relevant, generally, for all ECR participants."
Croatia will be represented in the ‘ESR meets’ session together with Slovenia and Slovakia. An excellent team of Croatian interventional neuroradiologists will present very good results from a long-running study. Several good speakers will have opportunities to participate in the educational programme. Dr. Brkljačić also announced that he will invite expert speakers from some other countries who have not yet been greatly involved at the ECR to have the opportunity to present. In the social programme he plans to invite some excellent Croatian musicians.
In addition to planning ECR 2020, Dr. Brkljačić will represent the ESR at many national congresses and international meetings. In addition to professional talks, he will present the ESR’s various activities. "I think that this is very important, so that European and non-European radiologists are well informed about various ESR activities and the benefits of ESR membership. Of course, it is impossible for the ESR President to visit all national meetings, since there is considerable overlap between many of them. But other members of the ESR Board and Executive Council will also represent the ESR at many national meetings. For 2019, my schedule is almost full, and I will have very few free weekends, if any."
Dr. Brkljačić explained that after graduating from the medical faculty, it was impossible to apply for any residency in Croatia without two years of work, either in general practice or in research at some university department. "I was working in research and I simultaneously enrolled in an ultrasound postgraduate course, in English, mostly with gynaecologists. When the radiology residency position opened, I was attracted because I had already acquired some knowledge of ultrasound, and I never regretted the decision, even though initially I planned to go into internal medicine. Thirty years ago, radiology was not as attractive as it is now, but this changed long ago" he said in a statement.
"The best way to attract medical students to radiology is to show them the diversity, dynamic nature and clinical relevance of the profession as much as possible while they are on rotations in our departments as medical students. Many students fall in love with radiology in this period of their education. In Croatia we fortunately have more applicants for radiology than for many surgical residencies and the quality of young doctors who apply for radiology residency is quite high, which is very important for the future of our specialty."