06 November 2014

The prestigious ICIS Gold Medal awarded to Dr. Jay Heiken

The prestigious ICIS Gold Medal awarded to Dr. Jay Heiken

At our 2014 Annual Teaching Course in Heidelberg, Germany, Dr. Jay Heiken was awarded the ICIS Gold Medal for 2014.  Prof. Rodney Reznek a long-standing colleague and friend said a few words about him.

Jay Heiken, is by any measure one of the leading radiologists in the world today. Currently Professor of Radiology, Director of Abdominal Imaging and Co-Director of Body Computed Tomography in the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, St Louis, Missouri, he trained as an undergraduate and postgraduate at Columbia University in  New York. 

Jay’s scientific credentials are truly admirable: his co-authorship of over 110 original articles all appear in peer-review journals of the highest impact. Many of them are linked by a theme of scientifically elucidating the optimization of the use of imaging techniques for the detection and characterization of abdominal, and to a lesser extent pelvic, pathology. It is the strict adherence to a rigorous scientific methodology that makes them stand out. In the early days these were in CT, then spiral CT, then MRI, then MDCT, optimization of contrast medium administration; all  have informed our work as oncological radiologists. It is the painstaking scientific work by clinical scientists like Jay that underpins our practice.
As one would expect from someone engaged in fundamental research, he has been Principal Investigator, Co-Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator, successfully gaining a substantial amount of grant support from Government and non-Government bodies since 1989.

It is hardly surprising then that around the world, Beijing, Kyoto, London, Crete, Cancun, Rome and so on, when conferences were held on new modalities like MR in the 80s, then spiral CT, then MDCT, there was Jay delivering a keynote address explaining the clinical scientific background to the use of a new technique, often as applied to abdominal malignancy; a more recent example has been the part his work has played in developing  colonography. It is a contribution that has spanned several decades. For example, as far back as the mid-80s he was a guest lecturer on MRI in Oncology at The Royal Marsden and St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, in 2011 he was a Visiting Professor at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre speaking on recent trends in hepatocellular cancer.

Happily, for those in training, much of this has fed into Jay’s contribution as a teacher with over 60 book chapters or invited reviews, Visiting Professorships around the world and in the U.S., editorship of 6 books including the 3rd and 4th editions of the benchmark book with Lee, Sagel and Stanley: Computed Tomography with MR Correlation. This clearly filters down to everyday teaching as well, where I know of several trained by Jay who acknowledge the positive influence he has had on their careers. At so many professional levels he serves as a role model for colleagues. I was chatting recently with a mutual friend and colleague, on the occasion of her being awarded a prestigious eponymous Chair at a major U.S. university, who had done a Fellowship at the Mallinckrodt. She told me that to this day, whenever she is faced with a difficult case, she still approaches it by wondering how Jay would tackle it. What a great compliment!. What our mutual friend and colleague was describing was the care, the thought, the importance of getting it right that are Jay’s professional hallmarks. It is hardly surprising then that he has received numerous awards and recently Honorary Fellowships in the South African Radiological Association and in the Asian Society of Abdominal Radiology.

Jay’s willingness to serve our profession is reflected in his membership of numerous professional societies, local, regional, national and international. He has served as President of the Society of Body Computed Tomography and MRI (2003), our own International Cancer Imaging Society (2007-8) and the Society of Gastrointestinal Radiologists (2010-11). But he certainly wasn’t parachuted into these posts, chairing numerous committees within them; all of which takes commitment, sacrifice and hard work. No more than in our own Society where he has chaired the Satellite Programme Committee while also serving as Secretary. This satellite meeting programme, under Jay’s stewardship, our annual society meeting held every October, our burgeoning on-line journal Cancer Imaging, and the innovative ICISi  interactive programme, now make up  the 4 pillars on which the platform of this Society rests. These satellite meetings, held jointly with societies mainly outside Europe, were started in 2007 and, with Jay at the helm, 15 have been held successfully in places such as Cape Town (twice), Brazil (three times), Hong Kong (twice), Oman, Kuwait, Korea, USA (run by Lesley Quint); and at other times in Europe with non-radiological societies such as ESTRO, EANM, and surgical oncologists. Largely through his efforts, of course with contributions of many other Fellows of our Society, this has now become a critical part of our international profile and has provided a great service to our Society.

Not surprisingly, Jay’s professional behaviour is an extension of his personal values,that I have so come to admire over the years. At a personal level, I have seldom known someone quite so popular, capable of being so engagingly sociable, with interests ranging from fine wines, politics, what the Americans call Sports. Those who know him recognise a man of singular intellectual honesty, but without making anybody feel uneasy, an unshakeable almost unconditional sense of loyalty, always interested, and the ability somehow to make others feel worthwhile  In short, someone I, like so many others, am proud to call a friend.

For all these reasons, there is no one more fitting to receive the International Cancer Imaging Society Gold Medal for 2014.