For Neil Rofsky, M.D., Chair of Radiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, scientific discovery is a creative discipline a lot like music performance. Dr. Rofsky is quite at home in both worlds. A trained oboist, he reflects on the experimentation required to shape the reeds that produce the instrument’s unique sound.
I always had a compelling interest in science, but I also relished the thought that I could make a difference in people’s lives. It’s a privilege to be a physician – I absolutely love it.”
“There is no prescription for success,” he says. “You scrape, you play. You scrape, you play, until you get the best sound and stability. It’s an iterative process. Experimentation in science also works this way.”
Dr. Rofsky is also Director of Translational Research for UT Southwestern’s Advanced Imaging Research Center (AIRC). He is continuing his career-long efforts toward developing novel approaches to detecting and monitoring prostate, liver, and renal cancers through the use of high-spatial-resolution and physiologic-based magnetic resonance imaging techniques.
“In a certain percentage of our work, the critical skill lies in how good we are at generating an image that reveals very small areas of diseased tissue,” he says, “because if you can’t demonstrate it, you can’t find it. There’s an aesthetic element, too, and when the generated image comes out well, you often feel in awe, and more importantly, you’ve created an image that enables important observations. Then, patients can receive the most targeted and effective treatments.”
Imaging has become a mainstay in a physician’s diagnostic tool kit. Thus, Dr. Rofsky recruits radiologists who work across every specialty in UT Southwestern’s hospitals and clinics. Their mission is to ensure that patients receive the best quality diagnoses and image-guided therapies along with genuine caring about their conditions and quality of life.
Dr. Rofsky and his team are also key members in multidisciplinary teams pooling their expertise and talents to “translate” basic science discoveries into positive changes in standards of care for patients. For him, the real success is when discovery brings about meaningful help for patients.