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Congressional Staff Tours WIMR Facilities

The largest congressional staff group to ever visit UW-Madison gathered in WIMR recently to learn more about the importance of federal funding and other resources necessary for continued support and expansion of selected areas of research and patient care within the SMPH and UW Health. Eleven members of the offices of State of Wisconsin politicians Tammy Baldwin, Gwen Moore, Glenn Grothman, Ron Johnson, Mark Pocan, Ron Kind, Sean Duffy, and Mike Gallagher visited with faculty and staff of the Departments of Medical Physics and Radiology on August 21.

The morning began with a tour of UW Med Flight, led by Ryan Wubben, MD, Professor of Emergency Medicine, followed by presentations from Jacques Galipeau, MD, the Don and Marilyn Anderson Professor of Oncology within the Department of Medicine and UW Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Amy Kind, MD, PhD, an Associate Professor at UW SMPH, the founder or the UW Department of Medicine Health Services and Care Research Program, and Director of the Madison VA Dementia and Cognitive Care Clinic.

Afterwards, Edward Jackson, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Medical Physics and Professor of Radiology and Human Oncology, provided a presentation that emphasized the Wisconsin Idea and overviewed selected past contributions of the collaborative efforts of the Departments of Medical Physics, Radiology, and Human Oncology with regard to basic research and development and the translation of such basic work to clinical trial applications and, ultimately, to patient care. The importance of federal research funding, particularly at the beginning of this process, was stressed, as was the return on investment for such funding in terms of patents and technology transfer, with specific highlights of vascular imaging and TomoTherapy being provided by Professors Charles Mistretta and T. Rockwell Mackie, respectively. The importance of industry engagement was also highlighted. This overview was followed by brief presentations from Bradley Christian, PhD, Professor of Medical Physics and Psychiatry, and Jonathan Engle, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Departments of Medical Physics and Radiology, who presented overviews of recent accomplishments of the Department of Medical Physics, including selected areas of research, such as cyclotron production and radiopharmaceutical research specifically related to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease as well as other high-interest public health issues such as prostate and breast cancers. Drs. Christian and Engle also discussed current grants, highlighted major accomplishments, and discussed recent collaborations with the Department of Radiology, Waisman Center, and other UW-Madison departments, centers, and institutes.

After the presentations, smaller groups, facilitated by Professors Timothy Hall, Oliver Wieben, and Guang-Hong Chen, toured WIMR1 US, MR, and x-ray/CT facilities. Each tour station included graduate students to give the staffers the opportunity to meet some of the students who contribute to research associated with these modalities. Dr. Thomas Grist, Professor and Chair of the Department of Radiology, also participated in the tour component of the visit and had an opportunity to highlight certain research initiatives as well as the impressive return on research and development investment to the state and beyond.

The overall goal of this visit was to underscore the importance of federal funding, as well as industry/foundation contracts and grants, and the need for increased levels of funding. The information the congressional staff members take back to the Capitol will be important with regard to the allocation of funding statewide that will enable UW researchers and physicians to continue to develop novel, more effective techniques and provide the ability to translate such techniques via clinical research to improve patient care, increasing the quality of human life in Wisconsin, and beyond.