ECR 2020: The show goes on at ECR opening ceremony

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It may not be Vienna in March, but the European Society of Radiology (ESR) did its best to host a virtual approximation of its traditional opening ceremony on 15 July. As with past in-person events, the online ceremony featured the pomp and circumstance for which ECR is renowned.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ESR was forced to postpone its traditional congress in Vienna, originally scheduled for 11-15 March, just days before the event was to begin. At first, ESR hoped to hold an in-person meeting in Vienna in July, but the society later shifted to an online-only format due to ongoing concerns about COVID-19.

The move to an online congress by ECR and other medical conferences almost immediately raised questions about how the COVID-19 pandemic would affect conference organizers in both the short- and long-term. But while acknowledging the novelty of the circumstances, ESR President Prof. Boris Brkljačić in Wednesday evening's opening ceremony sought to preserve as much of the "Vienna experience" as possible.

"Adaptation and innovation have always been strengths of the ESR," Brkljačić said in his opening address. "Having already established itself as the leader in online education over the past few years, the society rose to the challenge and made the decision to transform ECR 2020 into a fully online congress."

ESR President Prof. Boris Brkljačić delivers the opening address at ECR 2020.ESR President Prof. Boris Brkljačić delivers the opening address at ECR 2020.

The ceremonies featured the traditional awards given to radiology luminaries. The ESR also present honorary memberships, typically awarded to radiologists from outside Europe in recognition of their efforts to promote intercontinental exchange of education and information.

ESR honorary memberships included:

Dr. Dante R. Casale Menier. Casale Menier is head of imaging at Angeles Hospital in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and was honored with an ESR honorary membership in recognition of commitment to advancing radiology in Mexico and Latin America and improving international cooperation between the region and Europe.

Dr. Yi-Hong Chou. Chou is chair of radiology at Yuanpei University of Medical Technology and National Yang Ming University School of Medicine in Taipei City, Taiwan. He was recognized for his contributions to ultrasound and abdominal imaging, as well as to homogenizing education across Asia and Oceania.

Dr. Valerie Jackson. Jackson is past president of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) and executive director of the American Board of Radiology (ABR), and she is professor emeritus at Indiana University. She was recognized for her achievements in advancing radiology and, in particular, breast imaging.

Gold medalists were also awarded, recognizing notable achievements by European radiologists. Gold medalists for ECR 2020 included:

Dr. Richard FitzGerald. FitzGerald was a consultant radiologist at the Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust in Wolverhampton, U.K., from 1986 and 2017. He was recognized for his influence on publications and professional standards at the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) over two decades, as well as his efforts to ensure staffing levels and working conditions in the U.K. that ensure patient safety.

Dr. Jim Reekers. Now retired from Amsterdam University, Reekers performed pioneering work in interventional radiology and has been an outspoken advocate for image-guided treatment and evidence-based science.

Dr. Katrine Riklund. Riklund of Umeå University in Sweden was recognized for her work in hybrid, molecular, and translational imaging. She has served in many leadership roles at ESR since 2009 and was president of ECR 2016.

As is ECR tradition, each honorary member and medalist was introduced by a musical performance of their choosing, performed by a quartet led by singer and songwriter Lana Janjanin of Croatia, the home country of ECR 2020 president Brkljačić.

"A digital congress is not the same as an onsite one," Brkljačić noted in his opening address. "However, over the past few months, the ESR has made it an absolute priority to deliver a meeting that still captures as much of the atmosphere and interactivity of the ECR as possible."

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