Jim Pipe is the director of neuroimaging research at the Barrow Neurological Institute, as well as current President of the ISMRM. Jim has a long history with the society, starting with his first meeting as a graduate student in 1990. He hasn’t missed a meeting since, and has recently been focused on promoting prescient MR healthcare initiatives. In our interview with Jim, we started down memory lane, and then turned to the future of MRI, MRM, and ISMRM.
MRMH: What were your early meetings like? Did you recognize many faces?
Jim: In the beginning I was not part of a big group, so I would spend a lot of lunches eating by myself. You’re always just amazed when you go as a student or as a young person that the field is so much broader and larger than you’re used to. It’s pretty overwhelming how much stuff is at the meeting, and I can identify and empathize with first-timers who don’t know anybody yet. But each year you meet new people, then you see them again the following year, and it slowly kind of snowballs.
MRMH: Do you have any notable memories from past meetings on new technology?
Jim: There are probably a lot of examples of that. But one I remember is when Dan Sodickson had his first paper on SMASH. It was a poster, and every time I went by that poster it was crowded with people talking about it. I think for Dan, having that as a poster and presenting it all week long – it turned into a huge event, much better actually than had it been assigned as a talk. And it was a focal point of a lot of intense discussion, and really kind of got a lot of people interested in this whole concept that we now call parallel imaging.
I also remember functional MRI when it was just a few posters, right? And now it’s a huge section at the meeting. You see these parts of our field that just blossom and then break off, into other groups, like HBM for example. And you just keep thinking that at some point the productivity of MR has to flatten out, but it doesn’t, at least to my eye.
MRMH: Do you remember your first ISMRM presentation?
Jim: I think that the first or second time I gave a talk I was up for the young investigator award. I don’t know what a typical word per minute speech rate is, but I was at least double that. I was so nervous. I remember getting off stage and not remembering a thing about my talk.
MRMH: How has ISMRM changed over the years?
Jim: I think we’re getting more mature as a society. We’re continuing to expand our international reach, and this is a challenge at times, like with setting conference calls that work for people across every time zone. Also, our central office has grown tremendously in the last several years. I am so impressed at their output – mostly things members never see – and also at the level of professionalism they exhibit. That is something behind the scenes that I have had the pleasure of seeing grow. On the other hand, the society at its core is a bunch of really nice and really bright people who are friendly and have fun working together. So that hasn’t changed at all.