ESF calls for more and better medical imaging research

The European Science Foundation (ESF) has called for greater collaboration across Europe on research on medical imaging.

In its science policy briefing published on 22 October, the European Science Foundation (ESF) claims that medical imaging research in Europe is fragmented and closer cooperation between
doctors, scientists and industry is needed if Europe is to realise the full potential of new technological developments and remain globally competitive in this field.

Medical imaging is one of the fastest growing areas within medicine, both in the clinical settings in hospitals and in research and development (R&D). According to the experts, its is
making important contributions to preventive medicine and early diagnosis, whilst new imaging technology could result in improved and cost effective healthcare.

According to the ESF’s medical section, the European Medical Research Councils (EMRC), to obtain the maximum benefits of these scientific advances, research needs to be more collaborative than
it is at present. Large interdisciplinary research groups with access to long-term funding should also be established.

‘To strengthen Europe’s position in this truly global scientific field, emphasis has to be put on an increased collaboration, in particular between different universities, between imaging
specialists and clinicians, between academia and industry, and between different imaging modalities,’ reads a joint statement by Liselotte Hojgaard, the Chair of the EMRC, and John Marks, Chief
Executive of the ESF.

‘The establishment of interdisciplinary research groups of sufficient size provided with access to long-term funding is a prerequisite to fostering further development of this research area in
Europe,’ they add.

Finally, the ESF calls for enhanced collaboration between academia and industry to better attract funding and ensure exploitation of research and development synergies. Moreover, academia
should take the lead role in defining research activities based on the twin goals of improved patient outcome and cost-efficient healthcare.

‘In the long term, this approach will also benefit the competitiveness of the European medical imaging industry through a focus on R&D that addresses the patients’ and clinicians’ needs and
encourages user-friendly equipment tailored for cost-efficient healthcare,’ reads the policy document Medical Imaging for Improved Patient Care.

Its publication coincides with the expected postponement of the EU Physical Agents Directive, which would have set tight limits on occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields from medical
imaging devices as of April 2008. The European Commission is expected to announce that it will defer the introduction of the Directive for another four years, pending further scientific reviews
of the latest research in the area.

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