EUSOBI - European Society of Breast Imaging
September 26-27, 2014 | Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Congress language: English
In memoriam Prof. Werner Alois Kaiser
One month ago, during the EUSOBI Executive Board meeting, we had the sad news regarding the death of Professor Werner A. Kaiser, a real example of a life dedicated to science, clinics, and teaching. He was a pioneer of breast MRI and all of us are in debt with him for his tremendous work in this field. I fully accepted the suggestion of our past-president, Prof. Thomas Helbich, to ask Dr. Pascal Baltzer and Dr. Matthias Dietzel, two fellows of Prof. Kaiser, to write the obituary.
Francesco Sardanelli - EUSOBI President
Obituary, Werner Alois Kaiser (05.10.1949 - 27.12.2013)
Werner Alois Kaiser was an active and innovative leader, responsible for many of the dramatic advancements in the field of magnetic resonance imaging between the early 80s and today. In many ways, he represented a unique bridge between the basic scientist and the practical clinician, and was known for his outstanding ability to think across scientific frontiers. Werner Kaiser passed away on December 27, 2013, in Bonn, Germany. His death marks the loss of an unprejudiced, creative and critical scientist and a remarkable clinical radiologist. We mourn the loss of a generous, untiring mentor, a dear and dependable fried.
Werner Kaiser was born in Bühl within the Black Forest on 05.10.1949. In his first life—as he often referred to it—he studied chemistry at Karlsruhe and Freiburg, Germany, where he graduated in 1975. He received his PhD in 1978 after a postgraduate fellowship at the institute of Biochemistry of his alma mater. His thesis received the Gödecke award for the best scientific work in medicine. He had been simultaneously studying medicine since 1973 and graduated in Freiburg in 1980.
After his training as a general practitioner, which included a pediatric “intermezzo” from 1980 till 1983, he became interested in magnetic resonance imaging, which was still in its infancy by then. As a chemist, MRI was well known to Werner Kaiser and he soon recognized its enormous potential, and decided to become a radiologist: beginning as a resident at the Technical University of Munich in 1983, he continued his training at the Center for Radiology at Nürnberg. Although this was a major interventional radiology department, he started negotiations with Siemens and started a collaboration to explore magnetic resonance imaging with patients from his hospital—in the Siemens MRI workshop in Erlangen, by night. Patients were regularly transferred between Nürnberg and Erlangen and he became renowned among the local night taxi drivers. According to his account, he started the habit of grabbing 20-minute naps on the Bucky table during the lunch break in order to cope with his fatigue. In these years, he examined countless patients in numerous applications from head to toe, deeply exploring cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and, last but not least, breast imaging. Although he was one of the first to ever present temporally resolved MRI images of the heart on Siemens MRI magnets, breast MR imaging caught his special interest. Initially publishing on breast MRI in 1985, his early works covered the construction of the first dedicated double breast coil to the introduction of dynamic contrast-enhanced breast MRI. His works particularly influenced dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE) imaging far beyond the breast. As a consequence, he was awarded the European Magnetic Resonance Award in 1991.
From 1990 to 1993, he worked as a senior radiologist and assistant professor at the university hospital of Bonn, published his academic thesis entitled “MR Mammography,” and published an extensive textbook on MRI and MR spectroscopy of the breast as early as in 1992. In 1993, he became an associate professor at the University of Würzburg, and, in 1994, he became Chairman of the radiology department in Jena, where he was appointed a full professor in radiology, a position he held until the end of his life.
Despite his administrative tasks of uniting the scattered radiology departments into one central Institute of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, including the introduction of the first MRI scanners in Jena, he always concentrated on breast MRI and gained extensive knowledge of the diagnostic information “hidden in these more than 1000 images,” as he liked to put it. Further, he had the vision to unite diagnosis and therapy, and he and his coworkers were some of the first scientists to explore interventional image-guided treatments of early breast cancer, such as cryotherapy and magnetic thermoablation. For his work, he received the Wachsmann award of the German Röntgen society in 2003. In addition to optimizing technique and workflow for up to 50 patients per magnet per day, he strictly ensured the diagnostic quality of breast MRI examinations by regular case review. These review sessions were legendary in Jena: after preparing clinical and follow-up data, the blinded data reviews by him and his team were performed in 12-hour night shifts, which could last up to several weeks. Besides scientific data collection, he always very willingly shared his knowledge, a fact that only burnished his already excellent reputation, and he was very popular among his students, fellows, and colleagues.
He authored 421 peer-reviewed papers, the majority of these as first or senior author, and he held 22 patents. His success as a mentor and team leader is reflected by numerous scientific careers that developed under his guidance, as evidenced by the number of his former fellows who now serve as department heads in several radiology divisions all over the country. He was an untiring ambassador for breast MRI across all continents during the last three decades, resulting in countless invitations to present talks and courses. He received several major awards from the scientific community and was a visiting professor at Harvard Medical School, USA. Moreover, he conceived and organized the First International Congress on MR Mammography in Jena in 1997. Due to its great success, this event was repeated every three years and brought together breast MRI scientists from all over the world. For his outstanding scientific achievements, Professor Kaiser will be honored posthumously by the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. Professor Kaiser’s death is a great loss to his wife, five children, and three grandchildren, who meant so much to him. In his immediate professional circle, his personal friendliness, generosity, unique creativity, and unprejudiced critical appraisal will be sadly missed.
Pascal A.T. Baltzer and Matthias Dietzel
EUSOBI Membership 2014
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Your benefits as a member:
- Representation of breast imaging on a European level
- Reduced registration fees for the Annual Scientific Meeting
- Reduced registration fees for the Breast MRI Training Course
- Membership certificate
- European Diploma in Breast Imaging (EDBI)
- ESOR exchange programme for fellowships
- ESOR visiting scholarship programme
- Reduced subscription fee to the medical journal Breast Care
- EUSOBI newsletter