Message from James G. Pipe, Ph.D.,

Annual Meeting Program Committee


Over two centuries ago, Franz Anton Mesmer attained both fame and notoriety in Europe for his study of “animal magnetism”, innate magnetic forces which he claimed could be controlled to address a breadth of illnesses.  In 1784, King Louis XVI appointed a commission to determine whether Mesmer’s practices in magnetism were valid, or whether he was merely curing people through the power of suggestion.  The commission took a dim view of Mesmer’s work, and reported back, in part, that “magnetism without imagination produces nothing.”

I really like this story, because I think that our society and Mesmer are on opposite sides of the same coin.  I say this because I believe that, like nowhere else and at no other time in history, one sees the amazing results of magnetism with imagination at the meetings of the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.

The 20th annual meeting of the ISMRM will be held in Melbourne, 5-11 May, 2012.  The theme this year is “Adapting MR in a changing world”.  In our Melbourne plenary lectures, you will learn how a changing world is leading us to adapt MR, whether it is the challenge to redefine what a scanner looks and feels like as we broaden MR’s scope across applications, across technologies, and across continents, or it is the promise to scan faster than we had ever thought possible as we embrace the powerful new theories of compressed sensing.  You will also learn how, as we adapt MRI, we are changing the world.  You will learn about the power of this modality for assessing the microstructure of in-vivo tissue in health and disease, how MRI is transforming our understanding and treatment of psychiatric diseases, and how surgical treatment is being radically changed under the guidance of an MR scanner.

We have two wonderful speakers giving our named lectures this year.  Vivian Lee, MD, Ph.D., M.B.A., Senior Vice President for Health Sciences at the University of Utah, will deliver the Monday morning Lauterbur lecture on “MRI: From Science to Society.”  Paul Bottomley, PhD, Director of MR Research at Johns Hopkins University, will deliver the Mansfield lecture on Thursday morning, which will be an historic look at the Nobel traditions that have shaped our field.

In the spirit of our theme, there will be a different feel of the meeting this year, as we adapt our traditional meeting format.  Our goal is to increase the visibility and impact of traditional and electronic posters, and promote the personal interactions that help make this meeting so special.  The study group meetings will be taken out of the evenings and spread throughout the weekdays, housed in a “study group lounge” area, in which all attendees can come and enjoy a less structured setting, meeting and talking with others with similar interests, and discover what is new and interesting.  As this will replace the evening study group meetings, we will make the poster hall a fun place to be in the evenings.  Other additions will include white boards scattered throughout the hall to facilitate discussions, and dedicated gathering times for some of our larger contingents for whom English is a second language.

Another big change to the meeting will be “distributed poster sessions”.  Traditionally, each day has had two 2-hour slots with 10 parallel oral sessions (including educational sessions) and one 2-hour slot for poster viewing.  This year we will distribute the traditional and electronic poster sessions throughout the day, clustering them by theme.  Thus each of the three daily two-hour “slots” will contain an e-poster session on a given theme (e.g. cancer), a traditional poster session on a given theme (e.g. fMRI), 5-6 scientific sessions, 2-3 educational courses, and one or more specific study group meetings.  This more flexible and distributed format will reduce content overlap, make it much easier to identify when posters are to be presented, and help bring people with similar interests together in the poster sessions.  The reduced number of e-poster presenters in each slot will also enable us to improve the “browsability” of the e-posters.  Please come with an open mind - after the meeting, we’ll solicit feedback on how these changes worked for you.

The Education program in Melbourne, under the direction of Garry Gold, MD, is spread throughout the week, along with an intensive program held on the opening weekend.   Courses span across the breadth of our field, and are targeted toward various levels of expertise, from complete novices to advanced scholars.  Many of the popular courses will return, in addition to new courses such as “Imaging in Nutrition (Neuro)”, “Comparative Effectiveness: International Perspectives”, “Meet the Editors and the AMPC”, and a mock grant review.

The new convention center is spectacular, with a great layout.  For breaks during and after the day’s meeting, its riverfront location offers a beautiful place to unwind with colleagues.  Melbourne is also a fantastic city with lots of great restaurants, and is easy to navigate by foot or tram.  The south side of downtown meets the Yarra river with an impressive waterfront packed with restaurants, museums, shops, an aquarium, and even a casino.  This waterfront stretches from the convention center on one end to the very beautiful Royal Botanical Gardens on the other.  Afternoon ventures can bring you to seaside beaches, Australian Rules football games, regional wineries, and the Australian outback, complete with “mobs” of kangaroos.  You will find people happy to help you plan small or large adventures on our website and in the exhibition hall at the meeting.  Finally, you are sure to encounter the well-known Australian hospitality wherever you are.

Throughout the meeting, you will encounter the wonderful staff members of our central office.  Although we mostly only see them the week of the meeting, they work tirelessly throughout the year to make this meeting the incredible experience that it is.  In my role as AMPC chair, I have come to greatly appreciate their dedication and professionalism.   I believe we owe them a debt of gratitude for the role they play in advancing this meeting, our field, and our respective careers, and I encourage you to pass on a word of thanks as you interact with them.

On behalf of the Annual Meeting Program Committee, I invite you to come “Down Under” in May 2012 to Melbourne and the 20th Annual Meeting of the ISMRM.  Be part of the One Community combining magnetism with imagination, adapting MRI to address a breadth of illnesses and enable amazing scientific discovery.  Watch, learn, and participate, as we change the world together - you will be mesmerized by what you see and hear.

Jim Pipe
Chair, Annual Meeting Program Committee