Interview with honorary member Prof. Okan Akhan

I’m sure Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen would be proud of us

Honorary member of the German Radiological Society

He is no dreamer. On the contrary, Prof. Okan Akhan is not only an accomplished radiologist but also an altruist who tries to make our world a better place – in the most applaudable sense. Prof. Akhan is appointed honorary member of the DRG at RöKo 2015.

Why radiology? When did you decide to go into this field?
I don’t have a good answer for “why radiology” but I was always so much excited by basic medical sciences and anatomy and histology lectures were my favorites in my pre-clinical years. However, I was equally enticed by clinical medicine in my post-clinical years. Therefore, I started to search for a field that would give me the opportunity to work in both aspects of medicine. At that time, I thought radiology was a perfect match and never regretted my decision in all these years.     

Have you always wanted to become a radiologist? Which profession did you dream of when you were a child?
There were a lot of physicians in my immediate family and they were always so much respected by the community that I was living in. I have always wanted to become a physician since my very early childhood.  

What do you like most about your profession, what do you like least?
Fusing clinical and anatomical/pathological information and reaching a correct diagnosis is the aspect of our profession that I most enjoy. With the development of interventional radiology, I think, our diagnostic abilities has logarithmically increased and that definitely increased my love to our field. I cannot imagine anything in the field that would have changed my decision of selecting radiology as a career.

If you were able to go back in time, would you change anything?
My professional life has always been very intense both with clinical and scholarly activities. Therefore, I could not spend enough of time with my wife and my lovely daughter. I think I missed many important landmarks in my daughter’s growing process. She is now a teenager and I am now trying to compensate our missed times in the past.

Who influenced you most during your career and why?
I had the privilege to work under direct supervision of Prof. Anders Lunderquist in Sweden. I learned so much from him and his professional excellence and talents deeply impressed me early in my career. Not only professionally, he was also an excellent human being.
In addition to Dr. Lunderquist I was deeply affected by Prof. Robert Dondelinger, Prof. Rolf Gunther and Prof. Morton Meyers despite the fact that I never worked with them in the same clinical environment. They were very inspirational in terms of their professionalism as well as their friendship.

How does it feel to be an honorary member of the DRG?
I have always been a great fan of German music, architecture, science, poetry and philosophy. When I first read “Also sprach Zarathustra” as a teenager, that was a beginning spark for my interest in German philosophy and poetry with “Faust” of Goethe. In addition to all these my non-medical interest fields, as the birthplace of Wilhelm Roentgen and radiology, Germany has a special place in the hearts and minds of all radiologists around the world. I am sure Wilhelm Roentgen would feel so happy and privileged if he could witness the scientific achievements of German radiologists, some of whom I had the privilege to be friends with, in today’s world.  
With all these above mentioned reasons, it is such a great pleasure and honor for me to be nominated as an honorary member of “Deutsche Röntgengesellschaft”.  

What’s the magic formula for success?
Hard working, hard working, hard working and nothing else.

What song best describes your work ethic?
I am deeply touched by the local folk songs of my country but on a universal scale.
Beethoven is one of my favorite composers. His 9th symphony reminds me of the brotherhood of all mankind. I think the best song which describes my ethic is “Imagine” by John Lennon. Whenever I hear it I feel optimistic about the future of mankind, despite all the horrible acts perpetrated by human beings all around the globe.  

When are you completely satisfied with your work?
On the clinical side, that is when the patients and the referring physicians are happy with the results of my work. On the scholarly side, that time comes when I see the results of my research in a prestigious medical journal.
As an academician and lecturer in a medical school, that is the time when I see the progress of my medical students and residents in their career.

What else makes you happy? A hobby or any volunteer work?
Since the very early days of my youth I have been a defender of human rights all around the globe and in my own country. I feel so much honored and privileged to be one of the founders of “Human rights Foundation of Turkey” where I try my best to serve for the treatment of “torture survivors” in my society.
As a husband and father, I also so much like to travel with my family and getting acquainted with new people and cultures in different parts of the world. During my travels all around the globe, I also try not miss any opportunities to taste the best wines of the area. 


zum 96. RöKo nach Hamburg von Kongresspräsident Gerhard Adam


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