R&E Foundation Grant Recipients to Present Research at RSNA 2022

Foundation support and grant experience lead to thought leadership and influence

Paul Yi
Gregory Sorensen MD
Priscilla Slanetz

Early career funding opportunities can help radiologists pave career pathways and motivate them to make continuing contributions to the field.

At RSNA 2022: Empowering Patients and Partners in Care, several past R&E Foundation grant recipients will present sessions centered on key topics like AI, access and education that are, in varying ways, extensions of the early work their Foundation grants helped support.

Eliminating Bias, Ensuring Equity in AI

Paul Yi, MD, is director of the University of Maryland Medical Intelligent Imaging Center (UM2ii) and assistant professor in the Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

The recipient of a 2019 RSNA Research Resident Grant examining the use of deep learning in stroke evaluation and management, Dr. Yi continues to focus on applications of medical imaging AI and ensuring safe and equitable use of AI technology.

In Breaking Through the Hype of AI: A Case-based Review of Benefits and Pitfalls, Dr. Yi will address, among other topics, the issue of fairness and bias in AI algorithms. In one example, he said that although AI algorithms can deliver expert-level disease diagnosis performance on chest X-rays, issues like limited data populations can lead them to have biases in underserved populations.

“Ultimately the fear is that AI algorithms may end up perpetuating pre-existing biases and health care inequities,” Dr. Yi said. “Only by being aware of these possibilities and actively evaluating for the cause and presence of these biases, will we, as a field, be able to prevent them from occurring.”

As its use expands, Dr. Yi noted, AI is likely to transform how radiology is performed and the value radiologists bring to the health care equation. “Rather than purely descriptive or qualitative equations, radiology evaluations will provide quantitative measures of human health and disease that can unlock a completely new way of radiological care,” he said.

Racial Disparities in Breast Screening

Gregory Sorensen, MD, received a 1993 RSNA Research Resident Grant and a 1995 Bracco Diagnostics/RSNA Research Scholar Grant. Following a non-traditional career path, Dr. Sorensen transitioned from a career in academic neuroradiology to the business sector nearly a decade ago. Today, he is CEO of DeepHealth in Cambridge, MA, and head of the AI division of RadNet in Los Angeles.

Dr. Sorensen remains connected to research and is co-author of several RSNA 2022 featured papers related to using AI in breast screening as well as a scientific poster, Racial Disparities in Proportion of Patients Returning for Annual Screening Mammograms, that highlights a study investigating mammography screening adherence in the context of differing cancer incidence and mortality among various races. He says AI can have a role in improving access to top quality care for all populations.

“Screening is so valuable and impacts so many lives that it may be an area where radiologists can have the most impact on human health,” Dr. Sorensen said. “Deep learning-based AI software has shown to boost the quality of interpretations markedly and brings the performance of generalists to at, or above that, of specialists.”

He noted that patients who miss screening due to concerns over the quality of care available to them should be reassured.

“As autonomous AI is developed,” he commented, “more improvements—in access and quality—are on the way and this should be reassuring to all patients.”

“The grant not only helped me develop stronger teaching skills but also helped me strengthen relationships with other radiology educators, most of whom practice in subspecialties outside of mine.”


Innovation in Education

Priscilla J. Slanetz, MD, MPH, is a professor of radiology at Boston University Medical Center, vice chair of academic affairs and faculty development, and associate program director of the institution’s diagnostic radiology residency program.

She received a 2012 RSNA Education Scholar Grant for her project related to the development of a peer observation teaching program. “The grant not only helped me develop stronger teaching skills but also helped me strengthen relationships with other radiology educators, most of whom practice in subspecialties outside of mine,” she said.

Dr. Slanetz will present an educational course, Innovative Education for the Future of Radiology, covering methods for engaging learners in a post-pandemic hybrid teaching environment. She noted that there may have been at least one positive outcome from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Instead of working in silos, educators are increasingly sharing resources, developing standardized curricula and engaging in educational research across institutions and practice settings,” Dr. Slanetz said. “Such collaborations are critical to ensuring teaching keeps pace with learning and, more importantly, will result in a more prepared and versatile radiology workforce.”

Dr. Slanetz acknowledged that protected time afforded by grant funding is critical to helping educators keep up with changes in the education landscape.

“It is not enough to create a new curriculum, adopt a new technology or to give a lecture about a new imaging technique,” she said. “We must take the time to assess whether we achieved the desired outcome, whether that be a gain in knowledge or skills in our learners or improved patient outcomes.”

The Impact of R&E Funding

All three grant recipients acknowledge the influence their grants had on their career trajectories.

Dr. Yi credits his RSNA Research Resident Grant with allowing him to focus on developing into a physician scientist working in AI for radiology.

“The grant helped establish the foundation for my career now as an early-stage investigator leading a multidisciplinary AI research program,” he said.

According to Dr. Sorensen, the Foundation grants had a transformative effect on his career and gave him the confidence to pursue academic neuroradiology for nearly two decades.

“I later moved to the business sector where I felt my opportunities for having an impact on patient care were even greater,” he said.

Dr. Slanetz says her RSNA Education Scholar Grant project led to her establishing a similar program for radiology educators presenting at the Association of University Radiologists (AUR) annual meeting. She also recently incorporated peer observation into the Radiology Career Advancement Lectureship Program, an invited program for early- and mid-career members of the AUR.

“Having the opportunity to observe others teach helped me evolve as a teacher and has led me to experiment more freely with innovative approaches,” she said.

For More Information

Learn more about R&E Funding Opportunities

Read the RSNA News story featuring RSNA 2021 presenters who were previous R&E grant recipients:

Look for these RSNA 2022 presentations and posters:

Wednesday, Nov. 30, 4:30 p.m.

Breaking Through the Hype of AI: A Case-based Review of Benefits and Pitfalls

Thursday, Dec. 1, Poster Discussion Time

Racial Disparities in Proportion of Patients Returning for Annual Screening Mammograms

Thursday, Dec. 1, 9:30 a.m.

Innovative Education for the Future of Radiology