Kristen DeStigter, M.D., John P. and Kathryn H. Tampas Green and Gold Professor of Radiology (Photo: UVM COM Design & Photography)
University of Vermont radiologist Kristen DeStigter, M.D., has received a 2016 Global Humanitarian Award from the American College of Radiology (ACR) Foundation for her efforts to expand access to ultrasound imaging to undeserved areas of Africa.
DeStigter received the award at the ACR Foundation’s annual Crossroads of Radiology conference, held May 15-19, 2016 in Washington, D.C. Established in 2014, the award honors individuals and organizations that are providing or increasing access to quality radiological services for patients in low- to middle-income countries and underserved areas of the United States. Through this award program, the ACR Foundation aims to further encourage volunteer outreach efforts to improve patient care in underserved areas and create a forum for sharing successful approaches to improving radiological care in underserved areas.
The John P. and Kathryn H. Tampas Green and Gold Professor and interim chair in the UVM College of Medicine Department of Radiology, DeStigter co-founded the nonprofit organization Imaging the World (ITW) in 2008 with Brian Garra, M.D., former UVM radiologist and current chief of radiology research at the Veterans Healthcare Administration in Washington, D.C. Imaging the World has adapted ultrasound technology into a usable and sustainable model that allows health care providers in remote areas and poor countries to make basic life-saving diagnoses. With specialized training, they can capture high-quality, high-volume scans and compress them via software into files easily transmitted over the Internet, where an international network of medical volunteers can pull them up, read them and provide expert consultation to local health workers.
“Since its founding, the program has successfully incorporated obstetric ultrasound examination into routine care at lower level health clinics in rural Uganda by training health workers to perform high-quality, point-of-care ultrasounds,” stated the ACR in a news release regarding the 2016 Global Humanitarian Awards recipients.
In Uganda, the ultrasound technology provided by ITW has helped detect complications during pregnancies and address a high rate of maternal mortality. Since ITW started its work in that country, it has seen a 70 percent increase in the number of women who seek out prenatal care, DeStigter said during an interview in August 2015.
In 2013, the ACR inducted DeStigter as a fellow, one of the highest honors in the profession, recognizing radiologists who demonstrate a history of service to the radiology organizations, teaching or research. She received her medical degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland and completed a residency and body imaging fellowship at University Hospitals of Cleveland.