1. What is the AMPC? Who serves on the AMPC and how do they get appointed?

The Annual Meeting Program Committee is a group of about 60 volunteers from the ISMRM membership, charged with planning the scientific and educational component of each Annual meeting. New members of the AMPC are appointed by the incoming President early in the calendar year (while still Vice-President), in consultation with the current and two upcoming AMPC chairs. AMPC members serve a 3-year term.

2. Can Trainee members serve on the AMPC?

Trainee members of ISMRM cannot serve on the AMPC; however, Junior Fellow awardees are given an opportunity for appointment to the AMPC as Junior Fellow Observers.

3. How long do AMPC members serve?

The term for AMPC service is three years.

4. Abstract scoring info coming soon

5. How preliminary can the results presented in an abstract be?

Preliminary results are acceptable if the data in an abstract are substantive and support the statements in the abstract. However authors should keep in mind that ultimately reviewers are asked to judge the relative merits of different abstracts, so more data is usually an advantage.

6. How important is it to select the most appropriate subject category for my abstract? What is the purpose of the secondary category?

Selection of the subject category determines the expertise of the reviewers who score the abstract; this is the most important thing to consider when choosing the subject category. If non-experts in your field review the abstract, it is possible that it will receive a poor score. The chosen category also helps place the abstract in a session with similar research, thereby reaching the right audience at the meeting. There is an effort to exchange abstracts at the AMPC construction meeting, however this occurs after the review. The secondary category may be used to assign an abstract to a different reviewer (unlikely) or a different oral or poster session (more likely).

7. Who can be an abstract reviewer? How are reviewers chosen and what prior experience is necessary?

a. Any ISMRM member can volunteer to review abstracts. The call for volunteer reviewers goes out in September/October of each year.

b. The AMPC chair chooses reviewers from the pool of volunteers, based on information gathered as a result of the call for volunteer reviewers, such as how many abstracts and papers they have published, which categories they feel most capable to review, and if they have reviewed before. Priority is often given to more experienced reviewers, however each reviewer is generally only given up to 60 abstracts to review. Thus, there is typically need for less experienced reviewers as well. It is important that volunteers list up to five categories in which they are qualified to review to improve their chances of being selected.

8. How are reviewers for abstracts assigned to the specific subject categories?

a. Reviewers self-report the categories in which they feel they are most capable, and the AMPC chair uses this information in making their selection.

b. Starting with the 2012 meeting, a computer program was written to aid in reviewer selection. For a selected category, the AMPC chair is presented with the names of all reviewers who listed that category as their top pick, followed by all who listed it as their second pick, down to those who chose it for their 5th pick. For each reviewer, the chair is given their name and institution, type of membership, area of primary training and type of degree, unique PubMed identifier, number of PubMed articles, whether they have reviewed before, how many abstracts they have already been assigned to review, etc. The chair then picks four names to be added to the AMPC member already assigned to the category, and moves to the next category.

9. Do all categories require 5 reviewers per abstract?

Four reviewers and one AMPC member are assigned to each category. Sometimes there are fewer reviews that come in because (1) one of the reviewers has a conflict of interest (e.g. they are an author), or (2) sometimes a reviewer is not able to complete their assigned abstracts on time.

10. How is it determined which accepted abstract will be a talk, poster, or e-poster?

a. At the AMPC program construction meeting in January, each of roughly 12 tables (corresponding to the major categories of Neuro, Cancer, Engineering, etc.) receives a certain number of oral sessions and posters which they can assign – which abstracts they assign to each session is then completely up to that table. The number of sessions assigned to a table is typically proportional to the number of abstracts submitted for that table.

b. Typically, tables look at the best-scoring abstracts that requested an oral presentation, or abstracts which the members think would make a good talk, and develop an overall theme for each oral session, i.e. ” Alzheimer’s”, or “Novel Exogenous Contrast Agents for Cancer”. Once they have as many themed oral sessions as have been assigned to their table, they pick the appropriate number of abstracts which they think will make the best oral session for each theme. The responsibility is to make the best oral sessions, not to simply assemble the best-scored abstracts. One consideration for developing oral sessions is the research group from which an abstract originated. We strive to have as many different research groups represented as practically possible in each oral session. Of course there is a correlation with abstract scores, but it sometimes happens that a highly scored abstract does not thematically fit well into any oral session, and thus is assigned to be presented in another form.

c. Abstracts not assigned to oral sessions are then assigned to either traditional or e-poster sessions, which are grouped into themes. The number of posters that can be accepted, and therefore the number not accepted from the category are also specified for each table.

11. Why did I get an e-poster if I asked for a traditional poster?

There is great effort made in giving each of the over 4,000 accepted abstracts their preference. In the end, there are a fixed number of traditional poster slots and a fixed number of e-poster slots due to the space and layout constraints of the poster halls. If there are available slots in a different format, abstracts are given a different kind of slot rather than being rejected. Other times, the organizers may decide that an abstract fits best with a particular group of e-posters, rather than by itself in the traditional poster session, if there are few comparable traditional posters.

12. Can a high ranking abstract end up as a poster?

Yes. One example is an abstract that cannot be accommodated into any planned oral session (e.g., an abstract of Fluorine MRI of lobsters may be great, but may not fit with any session). This also avoids the prospect of someone presenting an abstract that nobody in the audience is interested in, which would be disappointing to the presenter. In the end, the priority of the AMPC is to create great oral sessions for the attendees, not simply to reward high-scoring abstracts.

13. How is the total abstract acceptance rate decided?

The abstract acceptance rate varies year-to-year, typically between 70-80%, and is ultimately up to the AMPC chair. Venue restrictions, such as the size of the hall available for traditional posters, may also influence the acceptance rate.

14. Can I receive the scores of my abstract review?

No. Review scores are confidential to the AMPC.

15. How are abstract duplications identified and what are the consequences?

During the review process, all reviewers are encouraged to point out when they see duplications. Other processes are run behind the scenes to identify potential duplicates. During the January AMPC meeting, potential duplicates are reviewed by the Category tables, and decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. When duplication is blatant, typically both abstracts are rejected. When it is less severe, often one abstract is accepted, and one is rejected. This is not always clear-cut, and remains an ongoing source of discussion, including the addition of penalties for those who submit duplicate abstracts.

16. Why are there no longer poster awards?

The poster awards that used to be given each year required judges to visit each poster during the meeting. This added an extra burden to many people during a very busy week. A decision was made for the 2012 Annual Meeting that an alternative award system should be devised. The new awards (magna cum laude and summa cum laude) are based purely on the scores of abstracts; while unfortunately this does not take into account the quality of the final displayed posters or presentations, it is much more easily managed, and focuses specifically on our Trainee members.

17. Who gets Magna Cum Laude and Summa Cum Laude awards?

These are given to Trainee members whose abstracts score in the top 5% (Summa Cum Laude) or 15% (Magna Cum Laude) within a major subject review category. The score is independent of whether the abstract gets a talk or poster.

18. How are the session topics determined? How are they distributed over the weekday sessions?

a. There are no predefined session topics for the annual meeting. Session topics are determined during the January AMPC construction meeting by the category tables. Organizers form themes for oral sessions from the high scoring and interesting abstracts.

b. The distribution happens during a special session on the last day of the AMPC meeting. At the beginning of that session, all session names are written on post-it notes and put on a board. Next to the board is a blank grid, showing all open times and rooms available for oral sessions during Monday through Friday of the meeting. During a process of roughly 10 “rounds”, each table takes a pre-assigned number (typically 0,1,or 2) of post-it-note sessions from the board and places each into an open time slot on the grid. As the rounds progress and the open slots are filled in, care is taken to mitigate content overlap (where possible). Adjustments are also made where possible to place similar themes in similar rooms, or to place popular sessions in larger rooms.

19. Why do some oral sessions cover a wide-range of topics, i.e. a potpourri of abstracts?

a. Whenever possible, oral sessions have a theme. However, sometimes there are a few “clusters” of exciting abstracts, (e.g. 3 on adiabatic RF pulses, 4 on B1 mapping, and 3 on SAR measurements at 7T). The table members may decide to create a session with these together, taking care to cluster talks of similar topics together.

b. Occasionally, AMPC meeting category tables decide to mix talks with different foci together to give a more comprehensive session. For example, there may be 5 clinical talks on MSK imaging and 5 technical talks on imaging around metal or cartilage imaging methods that the organizers decide to mix together.

20. How are the session moderators determined?

After each session is put together by the AMPC meeting category tables with the abstracts selected, the organizers choose two moderators from the ISMRM membership who are knowledgeable in the session content. The organizers are encouraged to pair a more junior member with a more senior member when possible.

21. How are the topics and presenters for the Weekend Educational courses determined?

a. At the January AMPC meeting in the year before an annual meeting (i.e. ~15 months before), the AMPC is split up (by the incoming AMPC chair) into several groups representing different aspects of MR that are similar, but not identical, to the categories for abstract submission. Each group designs a certain number of weekend, weekday, and weekday morning educational sessions in their area. The design of courses takes into account a Gap analysis and Needs assessment, suggestions from the membership and the study groups, and what was covered in recent meetings, taking into account the corresponding attendance and feedback. After the course topics are determined, the group also chooses course organizers.

b. The course organizers choose presenters who are both knowledgeable in the area of content and believed to be good speakers.

22. How is the skill level for each Weekend and/or Sunrise Educational course determined?

The skill level is assigned by the education groups during the January AMPC meeting. The desired skill level is then relayed to the speakers, and it is up to the speakers to present at the appropriate level.

23. How can I propose a new topic for a Weekend and/or Sunrise Educational course, and is there a possibility that I could help organize it?

The ISMRM often posts requests for such ideas – so keep an eye out for these requests. Additionally, one can write to the AMPC – since Educational courses are planned over one year prior to an annual meeting, contacting the AMPC vice-chair designate is the best course for an educational course suggestion. You can also request to help organize it – which is appreciated, and may be accommodated; however, there is no guarantee that you will be personally selected. Additionally, all courses must have at least one member of the AMPC as a (co-)organizer. This is done to mitigate overlap between content and speakers among the multitude of educational courses in a given meeting.

24. How are the Mansfield and Lauterbur speakers chosen? How about the plenary lectures and speakers?

a. At the January AMPC meeting in the year preceding the meeting of interest, some time on the first day (typically Friday night) is spent brainstorming on Named Lecturers (Mansfield and Lauterbur) and plenary topics for the annual meeting For both of these, the brainstorming session is used to compile a long list of possibilities, which is then pared down to a smaller list (maybe 8-15) by successive voting. Each Named Lecturer/plenary topic is then assigned a “spokesperson”. For plenary topics, the spokesperson works with any interested party in the AMPC to come up with a suggested list of talks and speaker candidates. On the last day of the AMPC meeting (typically Sunday), the spokespeople describe the suggested named lecturer (e.g. their contributions and what they may speak on) or plenary topic (what the session might look like), and successive voting is used to pick the final candidates. While it is not always achieved, consideration is purposefully given to obtain balance in “MD vs. PhD”, the regions of the world represented, and gender – always keeping high quality at the top of the list. There is always a great deal of discussion to balance the content of the plenaries between clinical applications, science, and engineering.

b. Plenary session speakers are selected by the plenary session organizers, and reviewed at the subsequent annual meeting by the AMPC, then typically invited soon afterward, almost a year in advance of the session itself.

25. How is the feedback from previous years used when planning new courses or sessions?

Feedback is compiled by the ISMRM central office and is provided to all of the AMPC meeting category tables before (and during) the meeting.

26. Is there a way for ISMRM members to share their ideas for improvement to the AMPC?

Contacting the AMPC chairs by email is a good mechanism to do this, or a member of the AMPC if you know them well. Keep in mind that the AMPC chair of the next annual meeting has little leeway in changing things, as most of their work has already been completed. Contacting the AMPC vice-chair and vice-chair designate will put you in touch with people better able to change things. Please also keep in mind that there are many, often conflicting, views on how the AMPC and the meeting should be run, and the AMPC and its chair cannot satisfy every request (but they are usually very receptive to constructive ideas).

27. How are the locations for the annual meeting selected?

Currently, the ISMRM alternates sites between (1) Western America, (2) Europe, (3) Eastern America, and (4) Asia Pacific. This roughly reflects the geographic distribution of the ISMRM membership. The ISMRM central office accepts bids from potential host cities five or six years before the actual meeting will take place. There are a few crucial criteria that must be met, such as available hotel space near the convention center and the size of the convention center. Another important attribute that many convention centers cannot meet for our society is the availability of several (e.g. 10) separate rooms of adequate size for the parallel oral sessions. The ISMRM Director of Meetings and Executive Director fly to several candidate cities to get a better feel for the layout of the center and go over financials such as overall center costs along with other substantial areas of expense including audio-visual, catering, etc., as well as any governmental support available to assist in underwriting the costs of the meeting. They present reports on 2-3 viable sites to the Board of Trustees, which then votes on the site. Typically this is done five years ahead of time, as is evidenced by the “Future Annual Meetings” section of the ISMRM website.

28. How is the Local Organizing committee selected/formed? Also, which comes first, the meeting location or a proposal from a local organizing committee?

The formation and makeup of the LOC is unique to every meeting, and is based on interactions with the ISMRM Executive Committee and the central office.

29. How is the theme determined for the annual meeting each year?

The AMPC Chair chooses the theme of the meeting.

30. What does the meeting registration fee cover?

The meeting registration fees are intended to cover the entire cost of the meetings, including such things as convention center space, audio-visual, catering, security, reimbursed travel expenses, advertising, etc. Since many costs do not scale with the number of attendees, they merely reflect the anticipated cost of the meeting and the anticipated attendance. Note also that some attempt is made to smooth registration fee levels across years, where convention center costs can vary greatly.

31. At the annual meeting, the Internet connectivity is often slow and intermittent. Is anything being done to relieve this issue?

This is a well-known area of concern, and is always discussed thoroughly with the conference center. Since the center changes each year, negotiations and discussions unfortunately start fresh each year – unless it is a venue to which we are returning. This is an issue of high priority on the AMPC and the central office, with the last several years seeing great improvement in connectivity.


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