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Burnside Team Using Advanced Methods to Improve Breast Cancer Screening Process

Dr. Elizabeth Burnside, Professor of Radiology and Associate Dean of Team Science and Interdisciplinary Research in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, is lead investigator of a Breast Cancer Screening Project within the UW Madison Center for Predictive Computational Phenotyping (CPCP). Along with her transdisciplinary team members, David Page, Niko Escanilla, Shara Feld, Ming Yuan, Jun Fan, Jennifer Cox, Eric Mischo, and Terry Little, Dr. Burnside is committed to improving the breast cancer screening process for both patients and physicians.

Advanced research methods are allowing researchers to make important strides in battling breast cancer. Statistics show that approximately one in eight women will get breast cancer in their lifetime, and approximately 40,300 women die from breast cancer in the United States each year. However, the recommendations for breast cancer screening differ in terms of the age at which one should begin screening and how frequently one should be screened. New technology has created a new world of possibilities for cancer screening research which can be advantageous to help physicians and patients determine a more accurate screening plan that is tailored to each individual. To better customize an individual screening plan requires that researchers develop tools and methods to select necessary information from large biomedical datasets which contain genetic information, molecular profiles of cells, clinical diagnostic tests, and electronic health records. This, in turn, provides researchers with crucial information that can be used to better understand a woman’s individual susceptibility of developing breast cancer.

Having a large amount of “big data” available at different levels (from cellular information unique to an individual to population-level information) is beneficial in many ways, but it can also make it difficult to discern which factors meaningfully contribute to the risk of breast cancer and which do not. Dr. Burnside’s CPCP team has discovered that combining genetic data, mammogram and other imaging data, along with electronic health record information serves as a substantially better evaluation of a woman’s risk for breast cancer. Better ways to predict breast cancer risk will help patients, physicians and policy-makers improve screening recommendations as well as each individual woman’s screening plan. “Solving important problems in precision medicine, like tailoring screening to individuals based on predictive data,” Dr. Burnside says, “will require transdisciplinary teams with expertise in imaging, informatics, engineering, population health, and other diverse disciplines working collaboratively. This CPCP project has provided exactly that opportunity.”

Dr. Szcykutowicz Receives Honors for Contributions to Articles in Radiology and Medical Physics

Dr. Timothy Szczykutowicz, Assistant Professor (CHS) of Imaging Sciences with the UW Department of Radiology, was recently named as a recipient of the 2018 Radiology Editor's Recognition Award for reviewing with Distinction. He was nominated for this award based on the quality and consistency of the reviews he contributed to Radiology over the past year. Dr. Szcykutowicz has consistently taken the time to review Radiology publications, which is beneficial in order to continue to maintain high quality publications. Dr. Szcykutowicz has also been invited by the three Editors of Medical Physics to serve as a member of the Board of Associate Editors (BAE) of Medical Physics. This level of distinction is awarded to those who have achieved great success as an investigator, and represent leaders within their areas of expertise, they are also believed to have high potential to help find the best scientific articles possible for posting. This requires that one manages around ten newly submitted manuscripts per year, and that they recruit expert referees to review the paper. Once the reviews become available, the Associate Editors make a recommendation to the responsible Editor and write a summary essentially outlining the basis of the recommendations that were made. The revised submissions will then be referred back to them for their recommendations as well as more peer review if they feel it is necessary. Congratulations, Dr. Szczykutowicz!

Dr. Propeck Appointed Chair of the American Board of Radiology Breast OLA Committee

Pamela Propeck, MD, FACR, was recently appointed Chair of the American Board of Radiology (ABR) Breast OLA (Online Longitudinal Assessment) Committee. Dr. Propeck has served the ABR for years beginning as an examiner for breast when the oral exam was held in Louisville, Kentucky, continuing on the breast certifying committee after the oral board exam was discontinued, and finally serving as a senior reviewer on the OLA Committee.

The OLA committee was started several years ago as a way to satisfy Part 3 of the Maintenance of Certification program for diagnostic radiology replacing the 10-year exam. The OLA committee consists of item writers who have been vetted by the ABR, as well as four senior reviewers and the committee chair. The goal is to have this material be representative of “walking around knowledge.” This committee’s job is to determine what is clinically relevant information and test and teach that information to ensure all radiologists have the knowledge needed to provide quality clinical care to their patients. Congratulations on this great honor, Dr. Propeck!