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Q&A With Award-Winning Author and Radiologist Anne G. Osborn, MD

Oct 09, 2013


Author: Melinda Rogers

Many health care professionals across the world are familiar with University of Utah radiologist Anne G. Osborn, MD, and her groundbreaking work on helping to establish the field of neuroradiology, which deals with the head, neck, spine and the central and peripheral nervous systems.

Already the author of multiple award-winning medical books and scientific journal articles, Osborn this month earned another distinction to add to her already impressive portfolio: She won the 2013 first place prize from the American Medical Writers Association for “Best Book Written by a Physician.” Her recently released book, Osborn’s Brain: Imaging, Pathology and Anatomy, is considered to be the premier textbook on neuroradiology.

Osborn took a minute out of her busy schedule to talk about her life as a researcher, educator, clinician and award-winning author.

Q: It’s no secret that practitioners at academic medical centers balance a variety of responsibilities in teaching, carrying out research and managing a clinical schedule with patients. You’ve managed to do all three while fitting in the extra curricular activity of writing a book. Why was this project important to you? What do you hope those who read your book will gain from its content?

A: Physicians who deal with the brain must be very knowledgeable about its complex anatomy and diseases (pathology). These disciplines are the essential foundation for correct interpretation of imaging studies. To my knowledge, there is no textbook on the brain that combines all three in one single, easy-to-understand source. The ultimate reason I wrote the book is to help increase diagnostic accuracy and improve patient care.

Q: You’ve received top honors from the American Medical Writers Association for your recent book about neuroradiology. What does receiving this award mean to you?

A: Medical writers know good writing. To receive this recognition from peers is something very special.

Q: Often in the medical profession, heroic stories from the operating room overshadow the quieter practice of teaching. Why is teaching important to you? Also, was the process of creating this textbook an extended arm of your teaching philosophy?

A: All doctors are teachers in one way or another. Whether it’s educating patients, care-givers, or our own colleagues, it’s all about sharing knowledge and improving outcomes. I love the “aha” experience of sharing something new . . . when a student or fellow physician lights up with the “oh, yeah! I totally get that!” kind of look. And yes, I write the way I teach: Using anatomy and neuropathology as the basis for understanding brain imaging.

Q: You are the co-creator of the first comprehensive point-of-care electronic imaging reference systems, one of several impressive breakthroughs that you’ve worked on during your career so far. What are some of the other goals you’d like to accomplish in the future? What do you see as important areas of research and development for your field, as it moves forward?

A: The whole field of imaging the way the brain actually works—not just how it looks—is literally exploding. New techniques are allowing us to map critical functional areas for our neurosurgical colleagues so they can better plan their operations. We are starting to look at mood disorders, drug effects on the brain, that sort of thing. We are fortunate here at the University of Utah that we have world-class clinical and basic neurosciences—right next door to world-class bioengineering and computer modeling of neural interfaces. And we’re on the same campus as English, psychology, the arts . . . imaging how exciting it could be to watch the brain activation when someone is listening to really great poetry! Future research possibilities are endless.