Cheri Canon, M.D., FACR, FAAWR was named chair of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Heersink School of Medicine Department of Radiology in 2011. Now, in 2021, we are taking a look back to see what the last ten years under her leadership has looked like, how it has transformed the department, and what her peers have to say.

 

Cheri Canon, M.D., FACR, FAAWR

When first named chair, what plans did you have for the department? canon 0720

I wanted to continue the strong history of excellence in clinical care and education. I also wanted to continue to invest in and expand our research mission, which was also the vision of Dr. Reginald (Reggie) Munden, my predecessor. With his departure, I “inherited” his legacy, including the cyclotron and Advanced Imaging Facility project, then in the planning stages only. This was quite a steep learning curve for me, but very exciting. At the time, I had no idea of its potential impact to radiology, UAB Medicine, and UAB. I quickly learned that in order to create a sustainable research program and balance it with a very busy clinical service, we needed to focus and invest in key strategic areas. The biggest challenge as a new chair was saying no, sometimes to great ideas, but resources are limited. I have also learned that time is one of our most valuable and limited resources. My other plans included expansion of our training programs as well as our clinical footprint. In my “chair” letter to Dean Watts dated 12/19/2010, I outlined four pillars of my strategic plan: innovation, efficiency, quality, and customer service. These cross all three missions and remain the underpinnings UAB Radiology. 

What one accomplishment are you most proud of as chair?

The people. We have successfully recruited a remarkable faculty and trainees year over year. Our department has grown from 62 faculty in 2011, to currently 101, an increase of 63% over the last decade. Specifically, we have increased research faculty and staff from a combined total of 20 in 2011 to 47 currently, with an increase in research funding from $1,285,128 to $5,960,376, an increase of 364%. 

What positive changes have you seen in the department in the past ten years? 

There have been so many. Our leadership structure has significantly evolved to a matrixed and distributed model.  We have a remarkable leadership team with new leadership positions, allowing for more informed succession planning and leadership development across our faculty. Because of the growth in the Department of Radiology in size and complexity, we need a cabinet of strong, diverse leaders who are willing to engage.  We are so fortunate that we have such a deep bench.

I am also proud of the intentional efforts I have seen across the Department of Radiology as we strive for diversity with inclusion. While we still have work to do, I am optimistic we will achieve our vision.

Our clinical care continues to be cutting edge with new section of Emergency Radiology, new divisions of Interventional Radiology and Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics. These changes better reflect the remarkable care our subspecialized clinical faculty provide for our patients.

What are your hopes and goals for the department moving forward?

I hope we continue our trajectory in advancing innovative clinical care and research, that we grow our training programs, and that we create culture where individuals belong, thrive and find fulfillment.

 

Faculty members in the department have noticed and acknowledged Dr. Canon’s determination and success during her time as chair.

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Desiree Morgan, M.D.

How have Dr. Canon’s efforts grown the department over the past 10 years?

We have had unbelievable growth in clinical volumes, imaging studies, and procedures which support the entire health care enterprise at UAB. Her stature in leadership of the medical center has set the tone for our multidisciplinary efforts in holistic patient care. In addition, with strategic planning we have grown our research footprint and collaboration remarkably in these competitive and difficult times. Always a champion for improvement, Dr. Canon has used an integrated team approach to accomplish these goals; she believes in listening to multiple viewpoints and ideas to catalyze growth.    

 

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Singh Satinder, M.D. FCCP, FNASCI, FSABI

How has Dr. Canon’s personality, character, and drive impacted the department?

She has a very pleasant, strong and expressive personality. She is very confident and motivated and get things done. She promoted diversity and emphasized the role of women in the department. All of these traits have positively impacted the department‘s mission in all three pillars of clinical care, education and research. 

 

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Michael Yester, Ph.D., DABR, FAAPM, FACR

What changes do you hope to see for the future of our department, and how do you think Dr. Canon’s role as chair will assist with those changes?

One prominent aspect for the future is diversity within the department and this is something that Dr. Canon has championed quite successfully and know it will continue. In addition, the future will involve sustained growth and the issue will be office space. Dr. Canon has had great success in working through such matters and her influence and stature within the institution will be a big help.