Reflecting on the Impact of COVID-19, the Influence of Applied Radiology, and the Future of Neuroradiology


Applied Radiology publisher Kieran Anderson recently spoke with C. Douglas Phillips, MD, FACR, a professor of radiology at Weill Cornell Medical College and the director of head and neck imaging in the division of neuroradiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City. This article is based on their conversation.

In the spring of 2020, C. Douglas Phillips, MD, FACR, gazed out his New York City office windows overlooking the East River. Instead of seeing a beautiful riverfront bustling with activity, he saw refrigerated trucks idling along deserted streets, waiting to store bodies of COVID-19 victims from the city’s overwhelmed morgue system.  “It’s been a horrible thing to go through. But it’s almost over, and that’s the beautiful thing. It looks like 2021 is going to come in on a lot of better notes,” Dr. Phillips said.

He’s a fellowship-trained neuroradiologist actively involved in the American College of Radiology (ACR), American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS), American Society of Neuroradiology (ASNR) and the American Society of Head and Neck Radiology (ASHNR), where he’s a past president. A longstanding member of the Applied Radiology editorial advisory board, Dr. Phillips also writes the entertaining “Wet Read” column, which can be found in every issue of the publication.

He’s seeing exciting new developments in neuroimaging, including promising PET agents for head and neck imaging and parathyroid imaging, new molecularly targeted radiation imaging agents, and improved technology and imaging systems, most notably within molecular imaging. “Those of us who watched MR burst on the scene have been waiting to see what’s going to be the next thing. And as I look at it, molecular imaging is going to be that thing. It’s like going from a tricycle to the bike, and then moving into something with some serious horsepower and going fast,” he says.

One of Dr. Phillips’ mentors, Theodore (Ted) Keats, MD, the longtime Chairman of Radiology at the University of Virginia, served as the Editor-in-Chief of Applied Radiology for 12 years before his retirement in 2001. “He made sure that as residents, we all had a copy of Applied Radiology. As a budding young radiologist, there were very few things I could read and understand, but there was almost invariably a nice review article in Applied Radiology that I could read and learn from,” he explains.

Dr. Keats asked Dr. Phillips to participate in Applied Radiology, where he’s observed the magazine continue to develop into a well-respected, clinical review journal that brings together multiple viewpoints, ranging from manufacturers and software programmers to radiologists and technologists. “It’s a really great way for residents to whet their whistle on a publication. It’s got great review articles that people can sift through to see what current thinking is about a topic.”

Dr. Phillips’ “Wet Read” column is a reader favorite that combines wisdom, sarcasm, and humor. “I go to meetings and people don't know me because I’m a neuroradiologist and a former president of ASHNR. They say, ‘Hey, you’re the guy that writes Wet Read, right?’ And that’s been wonderful for me.” Every thought or interaction is potential fodder for the column. He keeps a Notes section on his phone for ideas on the fly. During 2021, he’s planning to solicit more input from practicing radiologists, whether that’s a funny vignette or an interesting case.

Looking Forward to Seeing Friends and Colleagues Again

Dr. Phillips said he is grateful for the opportunity to learn and connect virtually during COVID-19. While online events allowed clinicians to stay engaged in the field and experience new developments, they were simply a stand-in for the real thing, he said. Like many people in the field, he’s looking forward to seeing friends and colleagues again at in-person events.

“To me, virtual meetings have been like a crutch. We’re limping along and not doing very well and we needed something, so we had virtual meetings,” he says. “I look forward to talking to people that I trained or trained with and people that I respect to get a chance to have a personal conversation. Virtual meetings filled a void, but I’m really looking forward to getting back to the old style.”

© Anderson Publishing, Ltd. 2023 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without express written permission Is strictly prohibited.