Professor Katrine Riklund from Umeå has overseen major developments in hybrid, molecular and translational imaging from her native Sweden to the highest level in Europe. She will be awarded the ESR Gold Medal, the society’s highest distinction, at ECR 2020. ECR Today took the opportunity to review her rich and unusual career.

Katrine Riklund MD, PhD is a full professor and senior consultant in diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine, as well as pro-vice-chancellor of Umeå University. She previously headed the clinical department of radiology and nuclear medicine at Umeå University Hospital and was head and deputy head of the radiation sciences department for more than ten years. She previously served as deputy dean and in various leadership roles at the medical faculty of Umeå University and was programme director of the medical school.

Former Chair of the ESR Board, Professor Katrine Riklund from Umea, Sweden.Former Chair of the ESR Board, Professor Katrine Riklund from Umea, Sweden.

When she started working at the end of the 1990s, after obtaining a double license in nuclear medicine and radiology, nuclear medicine had been part of the radiology training curriculum since 1983 in Sweden – unlike the rest of Europe. “It took me some time to learn that the integrated collaboration we had between all modality groups was very uncommon,” she recalled.

This close cooperation between the two specialties has been “a journey with all variants along the scale of cooperation to confrontation,” she added. Today, with the real hybrid imaging scanners with hardware fusion, radiology is getting more and more involved in hybrid, but there are still large variations in Sweden.

Prof. Riklund’s work with radioimmunoscintigraphy and radioimmunotherapy has advanced the knowledge and management of cancer, notably with the development and evaluation of monoclonal antibodies in the diagnosis and treatment of gynaecological cancers. More recently, her research has focused on hybrid imaging in cognition, neurodegeneration and movement disorders, as well as in prostate and colorectal cancer.

She has been a strong advocate for translational research between immunology and nuclear medicine. However, that interest almost never came to be. “Spending time in the preclinical laboratories was not so popular when I was a resident. I was even requested to decide whether I should do preclinical or clinical research – but I continued with translational anyway,” she said.

Translational research offers a strong base to do applied clinical research in many fields. “We can identify, for instance, the mechanisms and run tests in model systems in fundamental research. However, it is not possible to directly translate results from fundamental research into the clinical situation. This means that the applied clinical research is of utmost importance,” she said.

To pursue all her interests, Prof. Riklund has been using SPECT/CT, PET/CT and PET/MR extensively in oncology, with a special focus on dopamine in cognitive decline. She has authored 130 scientific papers, five reviews, 48 meeting abstracts or proceeding papers and six book chapters. She is also the editor of one book, Nuklearmedicin, published in 2013 in Swedish.

She has served in many leadership roles for the ESR and was the first chair of the ESR Board of Directors and Executive Council from 2016 to 2017.

Prof. Riklund is the founding president of the European Society of Hybrid Medical Imaging, which later became the European Society for Hybrid, Molecular and Translational Imaging – ESHIMT.

“ESHIMT has developed very well, with 3,570 members in 2019. We are doing a lot in education, including webinars; the ESHI Storyboard, where we put a spotlight on medical centres in Europe that use hybrid imaging scanners and modalities in their daily work; and the annual event CHILI, the Conference on Hybrid Imaging Live. These educational activities attract great interest, with a high number of attendees. The hybrid imaging sessions at the ECR are also very important and offer a great range in hybrid imaging research and education,” she said.

Prof. Riklund has served as a member of the ECR Congress Committee and then ECR President in 2016, a year in which interest in hybrid imaging among the radiology community grew.

“My vision is that hybrid imaging should and will become totally integrated into radiology, so we can continue to work with an organ-based approach with every imaging modality, and also with connection to pathology and different ‘omics’. Then we can talk about integrated diagnostics, which is necessary for very high-quality precision medicine,” she said.

In Europe, nuclear medicine and radiology must now find new ways to collaborate – a necessity that the new generation has completely accepted. “Our young colleagues find this natural and understand they need the full portfolio of imaging modalities. I hope they will have the education they need and that they keep their willingness to cooperate. The patients’ needs and new knowledge will help to form the imaging specialist of the future,” Prof. Riklund said.

Prof. Riklund is the past president of the Swedish Society of Radiology and the Swedish Society of Nuclear Medicine. She is chair of the Centre for Medical Image Science and Visualisation at Linköping University, as well as the Centre for Functional Brain Imaging and the Wallenberg Centre for Molecular Medicine at Umeå University. She is also an ordinary board member of the national facilities SciLifeLab, MedTech4Health and the scientific board of the Swedish Drug Authority. She has served as a grant evaluator for the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, the Swedish Cancer Society and the Swedish Research Council.

She gave the Marie Curie Honorary Lecture at ECR 2018, has received honorary membership from the French Society of Radiology and the RSNA, and was awarded the Alfred Breit Prize by the German Radiological Society in 2019.

At ECR 2020, Professor Katrine Riklund will be presented with the Gold Medal of the European Society of Radiology.