Howard Rowley, MD, has been awarded the 2020 Gold Medal by the American Society of Neuroradiology. This award honors exceptional service and achievement in neuroradiology and recognizes Dr. Rowley’s many contributions to stroke trials, dementia research and advanced imaging techniques, as well as what is perhaps is greatest contribution—his gift for teaching and his ability to distill complex topics into manageable and memorable information.

“This is not really my award. It’s an award given to all the people who taught me and supported me, especially my partners in medical physics,” said Dr. Rowley, who is a Professor of Radiology, Neurology, and Neurosurgery; Chief of Neurological MRI, and the Joseph F. Sackett Professor of Radiology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. “I stand on the shoulders of giants—everyone from janitors to administrative assistants who have made this possible. I’m grateful for all of those connections.”

Howard Rowley
Howard Rowley

His peers have hailed him one of the greatest educators in Neuroradiology. Dr. Rowley’s skill for teaching and his ability to communicate science into easily understandable presentation—in a way that can be practically applied—have defined his career and are recognized throughout the neuroradiology community. He said he hopes the knowledge he has acquired over the past 30 years will be passed on to help others improve their practice of medicine and understanding of imaging physics.

“Last year at a meeting someone came up to me and said, ‘you won’t remember me, but you gave a talk 20 years ago, and I still use your construct’,” Dr. Rowley said. “Maybe he’s the only person in the world, but I like to think maybe there are 10 or 12 people who I’ve impacted and that’s what motivates me.”

Dr. Rowley said he views sharing knowledge as a tool to build collaborative community, generate new ideas and question assumptions, and he has used the COVID-19 pandemic to re-evaluate his teaching methods and reinvigorate as an educator. By disseminating knowledge, he hopes to inspire others to create even better solutions to problems and incrementally improve the field.

Dr. Rowley is also working to promote health equity by developing brief MRI protocol. MRIs can be very expensive, especially for children or older adults who may require sedation or anesthesia to conduct an exam. Over the past few years, he and his colleagues have led the field in fast imaging, particularly for children with hydrocephalus and patients suspected to have had a stroke or other neurologic emergency. These new protocols find the necessary information for diagnosis within a shorter time, reducing cost and extending the reach of imaging to more people.

Dr. Rowley has been involved in ASNR since 1990, serving as chair of the Foundation from 2010 to 2015 and as ASNR President during 2016-2017.

By Josie Zindler, communications intern, as part of a series focusing on members of the school who received national awards during the 2019-20 academic year.