FDA doctor’s work helps streamline diagnosis process

Dr. Kyle Myers works with a team of physicists, engineers and mathematicians, who apply their expertise to evaluating imaging systems that help diagnosis medica...

Photo by Sam Kittner/Kittner.com
Dr. Kyle Myers works with a team of physicists, engineers and mathematicians, who apply their expertise to evaluating imaging systems that help diagnosis medical conditions such as cancer.

“We don’t base our evaluations on whether an imaging system gives nice looking pictures, but by actually measuring the information in those images,” said Myers, who is the director of the division of Imaging and Applied Mathematics, Office of Science and Engineering Laboratories, at the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health in Silver Spring, Md.

“You wouldn’t be able to tell side-by-side looking at a film versus a digital mammogram if they were equally powerful for breast cancer detection,” Myers told The Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp Tuesday. “You need good lab measurements and good, efficient clinical trials methodologies to bring those devices to patients knowing that they’re up to the challenge.”

Myers is one of 33 Service to America Medal finalists, which recognizes her work in helping to establish the scientific standards for these types of tests.

“We want to be able to get good, accurate information about the quality of the images, but be able to do that efficiently so that patients aren’t waiting for technologies that offer real benefits,” Myers said.

Federal News Radio asked the Sammies finalists to tell us a bit about themselves.

What three words best describe your leadership philosophy? Encouragement, Advocacy, Accountability

What’s the best piece of advice (or words of wisdom) you’ve ever received and who gave it to you?

“Never let your boss be surprised!” – my first FDA mentor and supervisor, Robert F. Wagner

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome (personally or professionally) and how did you overcome it?

Finding the right balance in terms of what is sufficient evidence that the benefits of a new medical technology outweigh the risks for patients. It’s an ongoing challenge that often involves scientific disagreements with colleagues that need to be worked through.

Who is your biggest role model and why?

Marcia McBeath – she was the first female Ph.D. I met, a woman who got her degree at Stanford at the same time as her husband while raising four young children. She and her husband, newly empty nesters, opened their home to me when I needed to leave my family (living in Mexico) for better schooling in the U.S. during my junior and senior years of high school. She was a great example of making it all work — a career, marriage and family.

What’s the last thing you read and what’s next on your reading list?

I just read “The Emperor of All Maladies, A Biography of Cancer” by Siddhartha Mukherjee. Next up: “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell.

What’s your favorite bureaucratic phrase?

“Think about the optics.” People use that phrase these days to talk about how something will look to others. As someone with a degree in the field of optical sciences, it makes me smile.

Meet the rest of the 2012 Sammies finalists.

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