December 2003 Interview of Dr. John Burdine by Drs. Warren Moore and Paul Murphy
WM: We’re interested in collecting stories and remembrances of the Southwestern Chapter. What can you tell us about the period of your tenure as Chapter President in 1975?
JB: Can you imagine that? That was 28 years ago, and I must say that my thoughts on the Chapter are mixed up with all of the other things that were going on in nuclear medicine around that time. Local activities and national activities all run together after this long.
In the early and mid 70s, we had created the TMA (Texas Medical Association) Section on Nuclear Medicine and I was involved in that for several meetings. I was thinking this morning that I remember Charlie Petty, after a particularly lengthy meeting of the Section of Nuclear Medicine, in San Antonio I think, bringing me a double-scotch at the end of the day, which I appreciated very much. I then had to go that night to an (interim) meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Chapter.
WM: Didn’t the Board (American Board of Nuclear Medicine) also start in ‘72 or ‘73?
JB: Yes, but that was after almost 10 years of organization. I was on their organizing committee and the first exam committee. I went to Philadelphia to a big meeting of that group, but that was earlier (than my Chapter presidency).
WM: And the ACNP (American College of Nuclear Physicians) started in ’74.
JB: Yes, I guess it was then. The name, ACNP, was used because J. R. Maxfield had already copyrighted the name “American College of Nuclear Medicine,” which really made some people upset. It didn’t upset me because I liked J.R. (Remember that he and two of his brothers were all Presidents of the Southwestern Chapter fairly early on.) We had a meeting in Chicago right after the national (SNM) meeting with J.R. Maxfield and Herbert Allen and several people who were wanting the Society of Nuclear Medicine to endorse the American College of Nuclear Medicine. Gerry Denardo asked me to be the main moderator at that meeting, and I remember distinctly riding the train to Chicago. It took a day and a half and finally at the end, we agreed to disagree and go our separate ways, and that was the way it was. There were a lot of people that were concerned at that time about having two “colleges.” I wasn’t particularly concerned because I thought that people would interpret that as depth.
WM: That’s interesting because it did turn out that way; the ACNM and the ACNP both have positions in the AMA House of Delegates; so the SNM gets one spot, the ACNM gets one, and the ACNP gets one.
JB: With respect to the Chapter, the truth is that there were almost no activities for the president for the time I was president in the interim between annual meetings. Other than the one Board meeting that was held mid-year, I guess.
PM: You probably had to put on the program the year before, in ’74; which was usually a bigger job than being the President of the Chapter. It’s a lot more work unless something unusual comes up. Back then we didn’t have an executive director … you did it yourself or you had the assistance of the national office. You could contract with them and they’d send somebody down to run your registration. I know they did that in ’79 … I had a program in San Antonio. You did your own program; you did all that stuff yourself.
JB: Yes, and fortunately, I had Linda Monroe and others to handle much of that. This was a time when there was no real central office for the Chapter. We had people from our own practices doing the jobs.
PM: Actually, thinking about that, you were national Program Chairman in ’75-76. I remember, because we had a Scientific Program Committee meeting on the 26th floor (of St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital) and it was still not furnished or we had just moved in, one or the other.
JB: That was the national meeting … I remember that.
PM: And you remember there were pickets from the union around the hospital. They were trying to sign up the laundry or the housekeeping people.
PM: Some of the members of the committee were concerned that we weren’t going to get out of the building to get to a cab to get to the airport.
PM: Well then maybe you had on the committee Barry Siegel and Len Holman and I don’t remember who else, but those two I remember, and …
JB: And probably Gerry Denardo. My gosh. Oh, that was a long time ago.
PM: Yes, that’s a long time ago, but it would have been probably the year after you were Chapter president. You were selected for that position pretty quickly after being on the SNM Board of Trustees, or were you on the Board before you were Chapter President?
JB: I think I was on the SNM Board before I was Chapter President.
Yes, whoever appointed me Program Chairman came to me when he was President-Elect. He must have been just elected, because he asked me to be Assistant Program Chairman. We had a minor role to play, and I can’t even remember where the meeting was, but I was Assistant Program Chairman the year before I was Program Chairman.
PM: Today, you end up being Program Chairman for multiple years. I don’t remember whether that was the case back then or whether it was more than a one-year term. When you were President of the SNM, you created the position of General Program Chairman and Bill Hendee was the person that you put in that position. That was supposed to be the person that didn’t deal with the scientific program but did everything else; commercial people and all of the interim things that came up, site selection, etc., but that was later. You defined it as a three-year term and at that point, the scientific program chair was a two-year term. So that they didn’t go out of office except every six years at the same time.
JB: Right, there was a lot of interest in creating some continuity because we had matured to a point where that was felt to be important. The logistics of putting all of that together is huge, and if you start from scratch, it’s a nightmare for the national office.
But back to the chapter…
WM: I think what you’re saying is sort of the same comment that Dan Hightower made, that he was President for a year and he had the Board meeting in the fall and the Chapter meeting in the spring, but other than that, he didn’t remember that there was much particular going on at that time, in terms of big events for the Chapter per se.
PM: One of the things … you’re probably an exception to this … but one of the things about being a Chapter President was that you were on the Board of Trustees of the national society, and a lot of times, that was the first time that individual got any involvement whatsoever at the national level.
JB: You know, I remember that I had been a one term national Trustee when this came up because I remember a roll call where someone said, “Well, you’re wearing two hats on this.”
WM: One of the other concepts was what was going on in nuclear medicine generally in that period of time. We’ve talked about some of those things from a political standpoint, but what about technically…This was the period when the SPECT camera was being developed.
PM: That work was presented at the SNM meeting in Philadelphia. They put scientific papers in the plenary section back then and we got two, back to back. I gave the technical and you gave the clinical. Was it ’76?
JB: Boy, I would have said late ‘70s.
PM: We had the small-headed prototype SPECT system downstairs. The LFOV was upstairs, but I don’t remember if there was one downstairs or not before we moved upstairs (in 1976).
WM: Is there anything else you would like to add? Was there a specific theme for your Presidency?
JB: I remember that my goal for the Chapter during my term was to increase the involvement of our people locally in the national organization. The Chapter had been locally oriented with a more social emphasis. I wanted to see more national involvement and add more research efforts in the area and at our meetings. I hope I accomplished some of that.
WM: Thank you.