Polish-Italian partnershiptypifies EU's bright side

April 1, 2009

Sadly, being cynical about certainaspects of the EuropeanUnion is only too easy.

Sadly, being cynical about certain aspects of the European Union is only too easy. The seemingly endless regulations and guidelines on every single topic under the sun, the fraudulent expense claims and dubious ethics of some Members of Parliament and European Commission staff, and the painfully slow response to global crises and natural disasters are just three of the problem areas.

It sometimes appears that the bureaucrats in Brussels have a built-in ability to wrap themselves and others in thick red tape, and this can overshadow the numerous advantages that harmonization has brought to all of us.

The cover story of this issue of DI Europe is an excellent example of the successful collaboration between research teams and individuals across the EU.

The lead author of the article, Dr. Katarzyna Gruszczynska, is a young Polish researcher who benefited from extended training in cardiac CT at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam. Gruszczynska joined our Editorial Advisory Board last year (see article on page 11). Her Italian coauthor, Dr. Francesca Pugliese, has also received training in Rotterdam and worked at the U.K. Medical Research Council’s Clinical Science Centre at London’s Hammersmith Hospital. Prof. Gabriel Krestin, the Bulgarian-born head of radiology in Rotterdam who is also a long-standing and active member of DI Europe’s board, helped inspire both these radiologists.

Furthermore, Gruszczynska and Pugliese won a top prize for their electronic poster at the 2008 European Congress of Radiology. ECR’s impressive growth since its first congress was held in Vienna in 1991 also highlights what can be achieved when Europeans work together.

Overall, EU healthcare harmonization has followed a fairly logical path. Take the case of clinical trials involving new drugs and devices. Until Good Clinical Practice (GCP) was conceived in the late 1980s, trials suffered from a blatant lack of standardization that held back new therapies and infuriated clinical researchers, industry, and patient groups.

Admittedly, it took a long time for EU-GCP to evolve into the Clinical Trials Directive (CTD), which was implemented into law in 2004. But complex issues such as patient consent, investigators’ responsibilities and training, and how best to deal with adverse reactions had to be addressed. Five years on, critics of the CTD are very hard to find.

Such progress confirms that the EU continues to have a positive impact on the daily lives of hundreds of millions of citizens-including readers of, and contributors to, this magazine.

Finally, if you have not yet visited our webcast from the ECR in March, please do set aside some time to read it at DiagnosticImaging.com. We hope you find it informative and useful. News reports from ECR 2009 will follow in our May edition.