Improving Europe's image

October 23, 2007

The European Science Foundation calls for greater collaboration across Europe on research in medical imaging.

New imaging technologies will result in improved and cost-effective healthcare, the ESF says, but there needs to be closer cooperation between doctors, scientists and industry if Europe is to realise the full potential of new developments and remain competitive globally.

The call comes in a new ESF Science Policy Briefing released this week. The briefing is the result of a workshop attended by key experts in the field organised by ESF's medical section, the European Medical Research Councils (EMRC).

Imaging is one of the fastest growing areas within medicine and makes important new contributions to preventive medicine, early diagnosis, minimally invasive surgery, patient follow-up, and individually tailored therapy choice for each patient's disease entity. New imaging technology allows much more detailed 'functional' information to be obtained about structures within the body, such as the potential for tissues to become cancerous or develop characteristics that lead to diseases such as Alzheimer's. Imaging is also becoming more important at guiding surgery and targeting radiation therapy so that normal surrounding tissues are not harmed.

But, says the ESF, to obtain the maximum benefit of these exciting advances, research needs to be more collaborative than it is at present.

The Science Policy Briefing contains a number of key recommendations that will lead to more and better research into medical imaging through Europe:The document calls for better ways to evaluate the emerging technologies: standardised protocols to ensure that all clinics use the technology in the best way, appropriate training and education to ensure that the technology moves smoothly from the research laboratory to the clinic and the development of ways to enable the technology to be more 'user friendly' so even advanced methods can be used, where appropriate, by professionals with limited expertise.

ESF's recognition of the importance of medical imaging has been further underlined by the decision to present this year's prestigious Latsis prize, worth 100,000 Swiss Francs (€60,000), to the scientist or research group that has made an outstanding and innovative contribution to the field of medical imaging. The prize will be awarded late this year at the ESF Annual Assembly.
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The Policy Briefing can be found at http://www.esf.org/publications.html

European Science Foundation

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