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  • Part 20: The R & E Fund Unveiled

  • Money for radiology research seemed practically nonexistent. Most government funds were being given to physicians in surgery or internal medicine.

    The 1984 Scientific Assembly was to be held at the new convention center in Washington, D.C. The meeting was supposed to have convened in Dallas, but problems in that Texas city during the 1980 gathering convinced Society leaders to relocate the 1984 meeting. Since Chicago's McCormick Place was already booked, RSNA had few other options when it chose to hold the 70th Scientific Assembly in the nation's capital. By early 1984, Director of Scientific Meetings George Schuyler knew the Washington Convention Center would be too small for the Scientific Assembly. He informed the Board of Directors and Society President Douglas W. MacEwan, M.D., that all aspects of the scientific meeting had to be reduced by 20 percent.

    New Editor for Radiology 

    1985 was the last year William R. Eyler, M.D., served as editor of Radiology. With the same grace, dignity and professionalism that had marked his tenure as editor, Dr. Eyler stepped down from the editorship. He agreed and continued to be a healthy, energetic presence at every RSNA meeting into the 21st century and still serves as the Society historian.

    Stanley S. Siegelman, M.D., from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, was chosen to be the new Radiology editor. With his selection, many RSNA members expected the Society's editorial office to be moved from Southfield, Mich., to Baltimore. However, Executive Director Adele Swenson saw an opportunity to establish a Publications Department at RSNA headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill.

    RadioGraphics was three years old and RSNA was also publishing the Scientific Program for each annual meeting. Plans were being considered to publish syllabi for the categorical courses offered at each meeting. Revenue gained from advertisements in RSNA publications was nearly equal to and in some years, slightly more than the money the Society received from exhibitor space at the scientific assembly. Consequently, the editorial operations in Michigan were closed, an editorial staff was hired to help Dr. Siegelman with the peer-review process in Baltimore, and a new Publications Department was established in Oak Brook. Donald A. Stewart, the managing editor of Radiology, became director of publications and began hiring staff for the Oak Brook office.

    At the same time, Swenson announced she would retire. She believed a long-time tenure as executive director would risk stagnation for RSNA and blunt her own creativity.1 One of her trusted assistants, Marian Godiksen, served as the staff manager until a new executive director could be found.

    Introducing the R&E Fund  

    Meanwhile, RSNA leaders directed their attention to the sad state of research in radiology. Money for radiology research seemed practically nonexistent. Most government funds were being given to physicians in surgery or internal medicine who had been engaged in research projects long before radiology was a recognized medical specialty. Many RSNA members did not realize the Society had made attempts to fund research in the late 1920s when Robert H. Lafferty, M.D., John F. Herrick, M.D., and W. Walter Wasson, M.D., had established the Memorial Fund, which, after four decades, had ceased to exist.

    In 1984, the RSNA Research and Education Fund (now Foundation) was established. Chicago radiologist Richard E. Buenger, M.D., worked with lawyers to develop bylaws and to appoint a Board of Trustees to oversee the fund. The Board consisted primarily of RSNA past presidents and was headed initially by 1976 President R. Brian Holmes, M.D., who had been a voting member of the RSNA Executive Committee longer than anyone in Society history. Philadelphia radiologist Robert E. Campbell, M.D., who was known for his expertise at raising funds for the hospital in which he practiced, was asked to solicit contributions from commercial companies. Also, a campaign was developed to obtain contributions from RSNA members.

    Meeting in Washington  

    Although the Washington Convention Center was not adequate for the 1984 Scientific Assembly, attendees did not experience the stifling conditions that had characterized the last gatherings in Chicago's Palmer House hotel during the 1970s. Based on Schuyler's recommendation, the scientific program had been cut back. Unfortunately, many refresher courses were not given, some papers were not presented and a number of scientific exhibits were not on display simply because the space was not available. A few companies, unable to secure booth space on the technical exhibition floor, used large trailers, which were parked on the streets surrounding the convention center. For one week, these trailers created traffic jams during rush hour in that part of Washington.

    But the most important event at that meeting was the official unveiling of the RSNA Research and Education Fund. Months later, the Fund had approximately $500,000. The RSNA Board of Directors augmented this with an additional $500,000. The first research grants were awarded in the summer of 1985.

    References 

    1. Elkin M. Adele Swenson: Executive Director, Radiological Society of North America, 1971-1985. Radiology 1985; 154:539-540.
    Robert E. Campbell, M.D. In 1984, Philadelphia radiologist Robert E. Campbell, M.D., was asked to convince corporations to contribute to the new R&E Fund.
    Stanley S. Siegelman, M.D Radiology Editor 1986 - 1997