My name is Judy. I’m a PGY5 radiology resident at Indiana University and will be a 2018–2019 IR fellow at the Dotter Institute, Portland. This was my third consecutive year attending the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) 2018 annual meeting in the city of angels. It was also the first time I did not have an abstract or poster for presentation, which translated to freedom to explore the conference. This was the largest SIR meeting, with over 5,000 attendees from more than 40 countries. The theme of the conference was focussed on innovation in IR. With multiple tracks and events at the conference, my strategy has always been to purchase the online content for later review and to spend time in sessions that will not be available for later viewing. I also like to explore the exhibits and the social events for networking. My time this year was spent with women interventional radiologists and the international scholars.
Less than 10% of the SIR members are women, and less than 5% of members are minorities.
When accepting an award from the Human Rights Campaign in 2015, Shonda Rhimes (producer of one of my favourite TV shows, Grey’s Anatomy) shared what she wrote as a child to combat her isolation and depression:
“I don’t know if anyone has noticed but I only ever write about one thing: being alone… You should get to turn on the TV and see your tribe. And your tribe can be any kind of person, anyone you identify with, anyone who feels like you, who feels like home, who feels like truth. You should get to turn on the TV and see your tribe, see your people, someone like you out there, existing. So that you know on your darkest day that when you run (metaphorically or physically RUN), there is somewhere, someone, to run TO. Your tribe is waiting for you. “You are not alone.”
At the 2018 SIR conference, I met my tribe, not in one place, but multiple events that I was interested in. Research is critical to medical innovation, and the SIR foundation helps fund investigators to keep discovering new tools to improve patient care. I attended the SIR foundation gala for the first time at this conference, sitting at a table of #WomenInIR, in a seat paid for by a woman in IR.
This year, women showed up at the table, and they brought another woman too.
What makes me excited and proud to be an IR is to be a witness of the beginning of women in IR revolution. Dr. Victoria Marx will serve as the next SIR president, with the 2019 annual meeting chair being another woman — Dr. Abi-Jaoudeh. Dr. Abi-Jaoudeh hopes to “increase visibility at the meeting for women and underrepresented minorities while making sure research and basic-science abstracts have a prominent place in the meeting. She also wants to highlight the work of junior faculty”. Save the date for SIR 2019, as I am sure it will be bigger and better.
I have attended many diversity talks focussed on the “pipeline problem” to increase interest in IR. The diversity session at SIR 2018 took this to the next level, as Dr Maureen Kohi explained that a “a woman is not a 75 kg man.” This session was interesting and discussed looking at outcomes for patients based on race and gender on a variety of medical diagnosis, including TIPS outcomes and liver transplant listing. If you are not convinced that the diversity problem is not just being able to see your tribe, then I recommend you watch this session to understand what this means for your patient.
As a future Daughter (Female version of Dotter) of IR, I was inspired by the speech of Dr. Renate Soulen who was a gold medalist at SIR2018, receiving the highest award offered to any member of the SIR society. Her speech reiterated that she did not have any mentors early in her career, and despite her remarkable success she brought focus to the challenges of being a woman in IR and the more urgent need to improve diversity.
“I just want to make crazy science with you” — Orphan Black
The 2018 Dotter lecture, “Still crazy after all these years”, was delivered by Dr. Timothy P. Murphy who discussed what sparks scientific discovery and defended the concept: “It’s only crazy if it doesn’t work!”
Throughout the conference there were lots of examples of pioneers in IR who enjoyed tinkering not just with IR tools but electronics and simply breaking and fixing things. Dr. Murphy discussed how Dr. Dotter was portrayed in the media as a mad scientist, but how his persistence despite the crazy science changed the practice of IR as we know it today. I am excited to work at the Dotter lab at OHSU, tinkering and experimenting with my future co-fellow Dr. Marc Michael and future neuroradiologist Dr. Mariya Gusman, whom I connected with at the SIR conference.
Service is a key pillar of any medical society or academic institution. As a Kenyan physician, I connected with the international scholars invited to the SIR annual meeting. The scholars bring a diverse view to the meeting, as I continue to learn about how to innovate for resource poor settings. For example, Dr. Vidya from India shared how they are using Iodine 131 for radioembolization of liver tumors and obtaining similar results to using Yttrium 90 for radioembolization. This statement has a monumental impact for cancer care in developing countries. A dose of Y90 treatment will run into several thousands for treatment while I-131 remains readily available and accessible.
Dr. Janice Newsome from Emory University will be taking over the international scholars program and I cannot wait to see her energy infused into supporting bidirectional learning from North to South and South to North. How do I know this ? She literally beat me into IR and will not stop!
I left the SIR meeting with new friends and a bigger feeling of the tribe I belong to as #IAMIR. I would like to pursue a career merging informatics and IR in the field of innovation and translational science. I will write a detailed post on the SIR 2018 keynote focussing on artificial intelligence and IR in the next weeks. Here is a quote from this year’s meeting that encourages me at this exciting time of my profession …..
“The past was an hour ago, tomorrow is NOW… if you are doing things today the way you did them yesterday, you are obsolete.”
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