New York Roentgen Society: A Brief History

The New York Roentgen Society (NYRS) was founded in April 1912 to address the scientific and clinical practice concerns of physicians specializing in the new field of radiology. It was created at a time when there were no state radiology societies and the only two national radiology groups, the American Roentgen Ray Society and the American Radium Society, limited their interests to scientific subject matter. In 1914, Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, (the German physicist who discovered X-rays in 1895), was awarded an honorary membership at the NYRS, the only American honorary membership he ever accepted. In 1921, another distinguished scientist (and Nobel Prize laureate) spoke at the NYRS meeting and accepted an honorary membership: Dr. Marie Sklodowska Curie.

Throughout its history, the New York Roentgen Society has offered its members a forum to discuss progress and challenges in the field of radiology. From its onset, the list of Society members and officers read (and still reads) like a Who’s Who of local and national champions involved in radiologic sciences including prominent medical physicists, diagnostic radiologists and radiation oncologists.

In the early years, and as pioneers in the field of radiology, members of the NYRS were some of the first to recognize clinical problems and concerns about protecting patients and workers from radiation. NYRS took the lead in presenting these concerns to local and state government agencies. In the late 1930s, X-ray laboratories owned and operated by persons with no medical training proliferated in New York, particularly in the city. The Society enlisted the support of local and state medical organizations to seek action in the state legislature to limit the human X-ray exposure to technologists and to physicians. As a result of almost three decades of advocacy efforts, NYRS achieved its goal which resulted in legislation in radiation safety.

By the 1960s, the Society had some 300 members practicing in New York City and its outskirts. In addition to monthly meetings, it hosted an annual spring conference. The conference featured nationally prominent speakers and drew several hundred registrants, mostly members, but also radiologists from around the country.

Today, the Society boasts over 1200 members. It continues its legacy of presenting popular Monday afternoon teaching sessions for residents and an annual spring conference. As technology rapidly advances, the Society’s outreach has expanded through its web site which receives an increasing number of visitors. Stronger than ever, the NYRS is now embarking on its 93rd year of uninterrupted service to the disciplines of radiology and radiation oncology in the greater New York area.