Translational research in radiology--moving new tools and therapies from the lab to the bedside, is the focus of the opening general session for SIIM2013, the annual meeting of the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine being held in early June.

There’s a lot of money available for research, but not so much for moving what is learned into clinical practice, says keynote speaker Bradley Erickson, M.D., professor of radiology at Mayo Clinic. “Just because something works in a petri dish doesn’t mean it will work in real life.”

Translational research is a well-defined process to create a drug or tool and research to determine if it is safe and effective, but then it takes innovation to figure out how to get it into community settings.  It’s actually easier to do innovation in smaller health systems than giant organizations like Mayo, Erickson muses. “We have committees up the wazoo. Smaller places are more likely to let someone go off and do something.”

In his keynote, Erickson will stress the differences between translational research and innovation. “People have these warm, fuzzy feelings about innovation, but I don’t think they realize that is disruptive and is going to be uncomfortable. They are confusing translational research with innovation. If you mix the two, anytime someone wants to do something innovative, they may run into problems as others see the initiative as disruptive.”

The bottom line, he says, is that once people recognize the distinctions between translational research and innovation, they can start to promote a culture of innovation. The opening session is scheduled at 8 a.m. on June 6. More information is available at

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