Embracing new topics, networking at American Thoracic Society 2024 Conference


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Key takeaways:

  • ATS 2024 keynote series topics include AI, mechanical ventilation and immigrant health.
  • Journals and government groups will present relevant research during midday sessions.

The American Thoracic Society International Conference will be held May 17 to 22 in San Diego with the goals of getting people involved and embracing unfamiliar topics.

Healio spoke with Debra Boyer, MD, MHPE, ATSF, international conference committee chair, ahead of the meeting to highlight sessions of importance, hopes for the event and how to prep before being welcomed to ATS 2024.







Keynote series

On Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, attendees can start their day at the conference with a keynote presentation. Boyer told Healio all three presentations differ from one another and provide insight on relevant topics in today’s world.

“The goal is to try to make sure there’s something for everybody,” she said.

The first presentation in this series will focus on AI in medicine and will be moderated by Michael Howell, MD, MPH, chief clinical officer at Google. During this session, attendees will hear thoughts from Fatima Rodriguez, MD, MPH, FACC, FAHA, and Matthew DeCamp, MD, PhD, FACP, on the benefits and risks of AI use in medicine.

In addition to this keynote, Boyer said more sessions on AI can be found throughout the conference.

“We have a number of sessions that integrate AI into specific aspects of care,” she said. “Some examples of these include using ChatGPT in research, using AI in looking at radiological assessments and using machine learning in pediatric pulmonology.”

Paying homage to the 70th anniversary of the first ICU, the second installment of the keynote series will focus on the history of modern mechanical ventilation, which began with the polio epidemic of the early 1950s.

During this session, Hannah Wunsch, MD, MSc, author of The Autumn Ghost: How the Battle Against a Polio Epidemic Revolutionized Modern Medical Care, will share insight from her book dedicated to this topic.

“This is a topic that is relevant to both our adult and pediatric providers,” Boyer said.

The last installment in the keynote series on May 21 will center on care for immigrants, which Boyer said is very appropriate for the location of this year’s meeting.

“San Diego is a place that thinks a lot about immigrant health,” she said.

This session takes the form of a panel discussion and features Denisse Rojas Marquez, MD, MPP, a DACA recipient and pediatric emergency medicine resident with both personal and professional experiences to share with fellow clinicians. The remaining two panelists, Julie Linton, MD, FAAP, and Marc B. Schenker, MD, MPH, have extensive backgrounds in immigrant health and will make for an exciting session, Boyer said.

Highlighting important sessions

With multiple sessions happening at the same time each day, Healio asked Boyer what sessions attendees should put on their calendars.

Notably, the two annual sessions on recently published pulmonary research and critical care research presented by JAMA and The New England Journal of Medicine will welcome the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine into the mix on May 19.

“These articles are very timely,” Boyer said. “They either have just come out or will come out right after the conference.”

On May 20, the Breaking News: 2024 Clinical Trial Results in Pulmonary Medicine session will showcase results from select phase 3 trials, as well as large, novel phase 2 trials. Boyer told Healio this session features “hot off the press clinical trials” and should not be missed.

Another can’t miss session according to Boyer is this year’s plenary session titled, “Saving the People of the Forest, One Chocolate Bar and One Nebulizer Treatment at a Time” on May 21.

During this session, Boyer said Nancy Lung, VMD, veterinarian and editor in chief of the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, and Jennifer Taylor-Cousar, MD, MSCS, ATSF, adult and pediatric pulmonologist at National Jewish Health, will offer unique insight into how diseases and interventions in orangutans can help with thinking about respiratory diseases in humans.

“There are things that we learn in human medicine that can help veterinarians take care of animals, but also things that veterinarians have learned in taking care of animals that we can extrapolate to taking care of humans,” Boyer said.

“While it may not directly be in your area of practice, you might be able to extrapolate from this and apply it to what do you do as a provider, researcher or clinician,” she added.

Similar to last year’s meeting, there is also an emphasis on global health. In addition to this topic being mentioned throughout numerous sessions, one session centered entirely on global challenges to lung health takes place on May 19.

Attendees should also consider checking out some of the midday sessions offered from noon to 1 p.m. each day. During these times, journals and various agencies, such as the FDA, CDC and NASA, will present relevant research. Notable midday sessions include Red in Action I and II: Lung Research Highlights from AJRCMB and From the ATS Scholar Editors: Pearls and Pitfalls in Health Professions Education Research.

Time to connect

In addition to attending sessions during the conference, attendees should plan on networking with their peers, Boyer said.

“We’re really trying to increase and improve networking and time for people to connect,” she said.

Following COVID-19, ATS conference planners reduced the length of symposia from 2 hours to an hour and a half to give attendees more time for meaningful connections.

“This gives attendees a little bit more of a break and allows time to meet each other in the hall, grab coffee and spend some time after the session to meet with the speakers,” Boyer said.

Attendees can also visit the Networking Super Center throughout the entire meeting to network and hear presentations in much smaller settings. There are several different components to the Networking Super Center: The Learning Studios, the ATS Center, the International Participant’s Center and spaces for attendees to catch up on emails and network with their colleagues.

Boyer said creating this type of intimate setting is important for getting attendees to participate and ask questions. It also serves as a reminder to get involved.

“There are so many different ways that folks can get engaged, and this is hopefully an opportunity for them to learn about those,” she said.

Prepping like a pro

Before the conference, Boyer recommends looking at the ATS website and app to identify sessions of interest. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the number of sessions, Boyer suggests looking to the Program at a Glance on the ATS website for inspiration.

In addition to attending sessions on topics that immediately pique your interest, find a session with a topic that is new to you, Boyer said.

“I think there’s a lot of benefit to trying something new or going to a session that maybe you hadn’t thought you had an interest in before,” she said.

Registered attendees should also know that they will have on-demand access to around 40 recorded sessions in the days following the conference.

“There’s so much going on at the same time, that you might miss a session that you really had an interest in, so if it is one of the on-demand sessions, you certainly could watch it later,” Boyer said.

As a final note, Boyer highlighted what she hopes attendees walk away with after ATS 2024.

“I hope our attendees take away new knowledge and ways to apply that in their work,” she said.

The Healio team will be on-site in San Diego during ATS 2024. Follow our coverage of the meeting here and on Twitter @HealioPulm.

For more information:

Debra Boyer, MD, MHPE, can be reached at debra.boyer@nationwidechildrens.org.

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