Synthesis and Recommendations
Participants agreed that priority should be given to five key areas -- funding mechanisms, high-risk projects, social engineering, inventories, and clinical priorities -- and they recommended specific actions that should be taken in those areas.
- Provide additional funding for research and development of imaging technologies:
Provide imaging technology with a separate, dedicated source of research funding, with a distinct set of criteria and , if possible, a dedicated interdisciplinary Study Section to review proposals (e.g., R21 grants should not be part of the same funding stream as R01 grants). Provide additional, appropriately structured funding mechanisms for early- stage, high-risk projects (e.g., R21 grants that are automatically renewable for a second two years). Provide additional support for translational research (e.g., a son-of-SBIR grant program that is open to academic researchers and eliminates the nine- month delay between Phase 1 and Phase 2). Recognize the need for research funds for acquiring the new equipment and facilities that are vital to technology development. Industry no longer donates such equipment, and at present NCRR is the only source of funding. Fund equipment and people to support clinical trials involving existing and new imaging systems.
- Make necessary changes in NIH and NCI culture through social engineering and other institutional changes that will create a context for imaging technology development.
Exert leadership by making a strong statement about the historic value of imaging. Operate as a partner in medical imaging research programs, as well as a broker. Identify champions within the research community or NCI for forming partnerships in imaging technology, and provide necessary resources to support this role. Support workshops and other forums that will encourage broader communication among researchers, clinicians, payers, and equipment manufacturers. Encourage intramural researchers to participate in workshops. Facilitate the creation of industry consortia, at least for purposes of coordination, and of collaborations among larger manufacturers and academic researchers. Use industry representatives in peer review process for technology development. Instruct Study Sections to recognize and reward basic imaging instrumentation research, and consider the use of different review mechanisms for technology development programs.
- Develop inventories of technologies, capabilities, and funding sources:
DIP should inventory, and put out on website, funding opportunities for Imaging technology development at NIH and other federal agencies (Bill Hendee had a list of 36 agencies that fund imaging). Seek out novel technologies and capabilities overseas (e.g., in the former Soviet Union), as well as the United States.
- Develop a list of clinically driven priorities for new imaging technologies and capabilities:
Create mechanism that will increase communication between clinicians and researchers, giving the clinicians a greater role in defining the problems that need to be solved first. Identify examples and develop quantitative models of how imaging has changed cancer management (e.g., outcome studies, metrics, methodological research). Examine current clinical practices for points where there is an opportunity to improve standards of care, or save money, by utilizing existing imaging systems or developing new ones.