Targeted Nanomeetings within a Larger Delivery Congress
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The most common complaint heard about large congress-type meetings is “It’s too large and you can’t see everything”. We, at the World Molecular Imaging Society (WMIS), feel that you can have it both ways—targeted focused meetings—delivered in the context of a large congress. The annual World Molecular Imaging Congress (WMIC), is a relatively large meeting, but just like micron-sized iron oxide particles that are often an assembly of smaller units in a polymer coating, the WMIC is a group of small meetings within a congress-coated shell. To help the society crafts the intimate setting of small focused meetings, we have created interest groups within the Society, and these groups organize scientific sessions and social events that are focused on specific topical areas within the context of the congress. These interest groups have grown organically in that they are proposed by members of the society in a manner similar to how our peers and colleagues propose small topical meetings that enable us to get together for skiing and science, or to have the week-long privilege of a Spartan life with world-class science. The congress-coating surrounds these cutting-edge specialized sessions with highlight lectures and plenary sessions that appeal to even the most refined of molecular imaging palates by addressing the most pressing biomedical questions through imaging. Membership in the interest groups is an excellent way of getting involved in the organization of the WMIC and contributing to its content. The interest groups represent several selected facets of the entirety of the multifaceted field of molecular imaging. In this issue and the subsequent issue of Molecular Imaging and Biology (MIB), we have provided you with a series of minireviews written by the chairs of the interest groups, and these reports are intended to give you, as members of our molecular imaging community, a sense of the interest group themes and the socio-scientific problems they are trying to address.
Over the last couple of years, we have added a number of interest groups to the society as a means of addressing outstanding needs of the molecular imaging community, and to direct some of our attention to specific thematic areas within the field. The Early Stage Professionals in Molecular Imaging Sciences (ESPMIS) Interest Group facilitates early intervention for potential errors in career development by providing insights into advancement and promotion, reviewing grant writing strategies, and enabling effective job searches. Similarly, the Women in Molecular Imaging Network (WIMIN) Interest Group concentrates on the issues that women scientists specifically face in their careers. Members of this interest group are developing the tools that enable women to advance their careers. Among the Interest Groups, WIMIN has been uniquely creative in developing tools to address the needs that they have identified. They have started a fellowship program to enable women to attend WMIC, they have worked to have child care offered at the World Congress, and have created a leadership training program. In addition to using their combined talents to address these needs, the WIMIN has also developed focused sessions on how imaging can address pressing unmet needs in women’s health. The Managers of Molecular Imaging Laboratories (MOMIL) Interest Group focuses on developing effective core technologies that can drive scientific investigation forward while maintaining budgets and state-of-the-art instrumentation for their user groups. They aim to provide training in best-practices in imaging to optimize core use and improve dissemination of imaging technologies to encompass a broader range of disciplines. These interest groups address the socioeconomic aspects of science and education in Molecular Imaging as well as emphasize technology development and deployment of these technologies to address critical unmet clinical needs.
Other interest groups focus more on scientific areas where there is a unique convergence of scientific concepts. This includes the Synthetic Biology and Reporter Gene Interest Group (SyBRG). Although members of the group may have biomechatronic body parts, as their misspelling of “cyborg” may imply, this interest group really focuses on both advancing the field of synthetic biology with imaging, and on the science of deriving imaging agents using the tools of synthetic biology … and I have been assured that biomechatronic body parts are not a prerequisite for membership. The Imaging Cell and Immune Therapy (ICIT) Interest Group was formed to address the expanding field of immunotherapy using imaging tools for in vivo cell tracking and assessment of efficacy with the overarching aim to improve therapeutic intervention for cancer and other diseases. Similarly, the Imaging of Infection (IOI) Interest Group was formed for the purpose of advancing new imaging agents that are orthogonal to mammalian biology and target the unique biology of pathogens for improved localization and characterization of infections in humans as well as for refined animal models that enhance our understanding of mechanisms of pathogenesis and guide the development of new antimicrobial agents. The multidisciplinary nature of these areas provided the motivation for creating interest groups that educate and inform across fields, such that investigators learn to speak a common language, are aware of the greatest challenges in these areas, and can develop the tools and knowledge that will have the greatest impact on maintaining human health.
The interest group entitled Advancing Drug Development through Molecular Imaging (ADDMI) builds on the theme of improved therapy and seeks to highlight those imaging studies and emerging technologies that drive drug discovery and drug development across a range of diseases. Imaging can refine and accelerate our animal models for drug discovery, which can inform clinical studies such that fewer drugs fail in the final steps of clinical evaluation. The Molecular Imaging in Nanotechnology and Theranostics (MINT) Interest Group takes drug development to the next step by promoting tools and technologies that combine imaging and therapy with an emphasis on precision nanomedicine. We have learned from decades of pharmaceutical development that directed therapies with multiple mechanisms are our greatest opportunity for treating disease by preventing the development of resistance. This is enhanced through nanotechnology approaches where combination therapy and imaging is possible.
In addition to the interest groups that tend toward multimodality imaging within and between fields, the society has also created modality-centric interest groups to advance molecular detection using a specific set of tools. These include Ultrasound Molecular Imaging and Drug Delivery (UMIDD) that focus on the contrast agents and integrated technologies that will enable the use of these, often times, more economic imaging modalities to reveal cellular and molecular changes and guide drug delivery. Much like UMIDD, the Magnetic Particle Imaging (MPI) Interest Group focuses on a specific modality. This interest group represents scientists who seek to image magnetic particles directly rather than use the effects of these particles on water to derive an image. The motivation for forming these two interest groups is that these tools can provide unique molecular contrast, can be cost effective, and are emerging as important approaches in the field of molecular imaging. The interest group called Optical Surgical Navigation (OSN/ASIGS) Interest Group is a combination of an interest group (OSN) Interest Group and an integrated society called American Society of Image Guided Surgery (ASIGS) aimed at the use of a wide range of optical technologies for improved surgical guidance. This interest group has organized satellite meetings on their topic and engaged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Center for Medicare & Medicaid services (CMS) to educate the community on regulatory issues related to imaging probes, instruments, and combinations for clinical studies and reimbursement. The interest groups serve to pull groups of scientists together to advance the field and play key roles in the society, the annual congress, and in bringing molecular imaging and novel therapies to the patients who need them.
The field of molecular imaging epitomizes convergent science where disciplines come together to provide sensitive, selective, and sometimes multiplexed imaging over a range of scales. As disciplines grow, they inevitably bump into other fields such that the uncertainties in biomedicine lie at the interface of two or more disciplines. Imaging scientists work at the nodes of convergence and therefore, the more conversant we are, as scientists, in the jargon, skills and knowledge of multiple fields, the more adept we are at addressing the big unknowns from multiple directions. The aims of the WMIS and the WMIC are to educate across disciplines and advance the tools and technologies to improve patient care. The interest groups support these aims and serve to increase dimensionality in the meetings with targeted nanomeetings delivered within the context of a large congress. You will enjoy reading about these groups, hearing about their objectives, and learning about the emerging fields that they represent. I, the members of the WMIS Board of Trustees and the Editor-in-Chief of MIB, would like to thank the chairs of the interest groups for their leadership and for their interesting and timely contributions to these issues of MIB.
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Conflict of Interest
The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.