U.S. is Losing Its Dominance in the Sciences, read the headline in The New York Times on May 2, 2004. The article reported concerns at the National Science Foundation that the rest of the world is catching up in such areas as scientific doctorate degrees, new patents and published research. The article noted that scientific papers by Americans peaked in 1992 and then fell roughly 10 percent.
RSNA has seen an evolution in the percentage of submissions by authors in North America versus authors outside of North America to its peer-reviewed science journal Radiology and to its scientific assembly and annual meeting.
In 1986, of about 1,600 submissions that we received, 1,300 were from North America and 300 were from outside of North America, says Radiology editor Anthony V. Proto, M.D. During 2003, about 61 percent of submissions came from 43 countries outside North America.
However, Dr. Proto says that while North American submissions to Radiology represented a smaller percentage of the total submissions over the last three years, it was not because of a decline in the number of North American submissions. It was because of an increase in the number of submissions from overseas.
Dr. Proto is optimistic that this trend demonstrates the globalization of medical science, rather than a decline in the quality of U.S. radiology research. Im delighted that we have so much excellent material being sent to us from North America and outside North America, and I think people recognize that this change is occurring, he says.
George S. Bisset III, M.D., chairman of the RSNA Scientific Program Committee, agrees that the decline in U.S. dominance is not the bad news that many are making it out to be. I think that the science of radiology should be a global pursuit, Dr. Bisset says. If researchers are successful in China or Japan at enhancing our pace of discovery, then we all win. When they come up with innovative ideas and we build on those innovations, then we all win again. We have a worldwide scientific community and computer networks that allow us to communicate with colleagues everywhere.
Dr. Bisset says that over the four years that he has chaired the committee that reviews abstracts submitted for presentation at the RSNA Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting, North American submissions have held steady while submissions from other nationsmost notably Asian countrieshave skyrocketed. In 1988, 25 percent of the scientific program submissions came from outside North America. Last year, the figure was 56 percent, he says.
Dr. Proto says the trend toward a global scientific community should not distract from the real problems facing academic medical research. He draws attention to the newly published special report, Enhancing Research in Academic Radiology Departments: Recommendations of the 2003 Consensus Conference, which says, In 2002, fewer than half of all university radiology departments had any NIH grants a major imbalance [that] raises concerns about the vitality and future of research in most medical school-based radiology departments.
Dr. Proto says the staffing shortage in radiology is partially responsible. Individuals who are in academic departments, from which the lions share of research comes, have less and less time to devote to their research interests, he says. Theyre spending more time doing clinical work and dont have as much academic time to do research.
The consensus panel, led by Philip O. Alderson, M.D., James Picker Professor and chairman of the Department of Radiology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, outlined 11 strategies for building research programs in academic radiology departments, beginning with The need to develop a research-supportive culture in radiology departments through leadership of the chair that is based on a vision, incentives and rewards system.
The complete consensus conference report was published in the August issues of Radiology, Academic Radiology, American Journal of Roentgenology and Journal of the American College of Radiology.
Reproduced with kind permission from:
RSNANews, Oak Brook, Ill: Radiological Society of North America, September 2004; 14(9); 9, 20