Symposia provide cutting-edge radiology education

July 14, 2003

Recognizing the profound and rapid changes occurring in the field of medical imaging, contrast manufacturer Schering perceived a need in 1992 for a worldwide radiology educational program. As recently retired chair of radiology at the University of

Recognizing the profound and rapid changes occurring in the field of medical imaging, contrast manufacturer Schering perceived a need in 1992 for a worldwide radiology educational program. As recently retired chair of radiology at the University of California, San Francisco, I shared that concept. Following several meetings with Dr. Klaus Scholz, who was at the time director of the Schering corporate strategic business unit-diagnosis, the Schering Training in Advances in Radiology (STAR) program was launched.

I was appointed scientific director, Ludwig Hahn was made administrative director, and a distinguished advisory board was appointed that included representation from the U.S., Europe, and Asia.

The STAR symposia were initiated in 1993, embracing a novel concept that differed from the Nycomed Amersham Intercontinental Continuing Education in Radiology (NICER) programs sponsored by Nycomed. The NICER program involves in-depth discussion of specific organ system imaging, conducted by large, distinguished faculties.

The STAR symposia, which are sponsored in conjunction with local radiological societies, include lectures on cutting-edge imaging technology and procedures, presented by four or five recognized leaders in their field who have hands-on expertise. The meetings typically last two days and consist of 45-minute faculty lectures followed by 90 to 120-minute workshops or panel discussions. A second symposium with the same faculty presenting the same lectures is often held in another city in the same or a neighboring country.

Siemens Medical Solutions, whose educational objectives are similar to Schering's, joined the sponsorship of STAR in 1999. Axel Lorz from Siemens joined Hahn in administering the meetings, and the association has been cooperative and collegial.

Over the 10 years of its existence, STAR has conducted symposia in 24 countries. They have been held in China six times, in Thailand five times, and more than once in Portugal, Poland, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and other countries. The locations practically circle the globe: from Stockholm to Cape Town, from Mexico City to New Zealand. More than 10,000 radiologists attended STAR symposia between 1993 and 2002, and on many occasions more than 80% of a country's radiologists were in attendance.

Although the material presented at the symposia is often far ahead of the local radiological practice, the intent is to cover the state of the art in advanced imaging. Leaders in various radiological subspecialties discuss procedures and approaches that will eventually become part of the local practice.

Attendees are encouraged to fill out evaluations of the symposia, and their responses indicate that more than 90% would like to participate in another STAR program. Material and scientific content are generally rated as excellent. The highest scores for overall value were received in Stockholm, but scores range between good and excellent everywhere.

Although Schering and Siemens generously support the symposia, the motif is purely educational, with absolutely no commercial overtones. Both companies have enthusiastically endorsed this policy, which has won them many friends.

Hahn was promoted to a higher corporate position within Schering in January and has been succeeded at the helm of STAR by Dr. Klaus Fleck, a physician and journalist. Lorz continues with STAR. I will relinquish my position with STAR at the end of 2003 and will be succeeded by Professor Hans Ringertz, chair of radiology at Karolinska School of Medicine in Stockholm. STAR will continue its mission to bring cutting-edge radiology education to interested radiologists around the world.

Dr. Margulis is scientific director of the Schering-Siemens Training in Advances in Radiology (STAR) program, and former chair of radiology at the University of California, San Francisco.