ATS President’s Message: Let’s Shape the Future of Respiratory Health at ATS 2024

The ATS 2024 International Conference takes place in San Diego from May 17 to 22, and I’m excited to welcome you to what will be the greatest showcase of cutting-edge thoracic medicine and research ever. More than 6,500 scientific abstracts, case reports, and clinical trials will be presented. Not to mention the insightful learning opportunities and chances to connect with colleagues and friends throughout this can’t-miss event!

M. Patricia Rivera, MD, ATSF
M. Patricia Rivera, MD, ATSF

This year, we’re excited to welcome the largest number of exhibitors ever to our Exhibit Floor. More than 260 companies – almost 60 of them brand-new to the conference – will exhibit the latest products, clinical trials, patient groups, and educational programming of interest to the thousands of attendees that have made our exhibit hall one of the fastest-growing in the country.

We’ll start things off like the sunny destination of California – that is, on a light note with an Opening Ceremony that features social media personality and comedian “Dr. Glaucomflecken,” aka William Flanary, MD. An ophthalmologist by day, Dr. Flanary’s alter ego is known for his medical-themed comedy sketches that encourage audiences to embrace the humor in everyday life. In his keynote, Dr. Flanary will discuss his experience as a doctor and, most importantly, as a patient.

I will also speak at the ceremony on the Society’s significant accomplishments this past year and our priorities for the one ahead. I look forward to presenting the 2024 Public Service Award, World Lung Health Award, Jo Rae Wright Award, and the J. Randall Curtis Humanism Award, as well as the latest class of ATS Fellows and Research Program awardees. Moreover, I’ll unveil a special video celebrating the success of 20 years of the ATS Research Program. The Opening Ceremony occurs on Saturday, May 18, from 4:30-5:30 p.m. PT at the San Diego Convention Center (Ballroom B, upper level).

On that note, consider this your invitation to join the Research Benefit, an elegant evening supporting early-career scientists and groundbreaking research, on Saturday, May 18, from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego. Each ticket includes a tax-deductible donation to the ATS Research Program. You can purchase your tickets to the Benefit when you register for ATS 2024 (and, yes, you can even use a different credit card than the card you use to pay for registration). If you’d like to make a gift to the ATS Research Program directly, you can do so here.

I’m also looking forward to this year’s Fran Comi Keynote Lecture  (in honor of our late, much-loved colleague), featuring engaging presentations from leaders on artificial intelligence in medicine. Fran Comi’s keynote will live up to her memory and be as inspiring and engaging as Fran was. Be sure to attend all three Keynote Series sessions at the convention center from Sunday, May 19, to Tuesday, May 21, 8-8:45 a.m. PT.

Other Keynote lectures will explore the history of mechanical ventilation and care for immigrant and undocumented populations. This year’s Keynote Lectures are sure to generate lots of discussion. There are so many highlights at ATS 2024, but you will not want to miss this year’s Plenary Session: Saving the People of the Forest – One Chocolate Bar and One Nebulizer Treatment at a Time. It features our very own International Conference Committee (ICC) Chair-Elect Jennifer Taylor-Cousar, MD, MSCS, ATSF, and veterinarian Nancy Lung, VMD, MS, who will share their work with orangutans and respiratory health in an interview-style discussion that I am excited to moderate alongside the ICC Chair, Debra Boyer, MD, MHPE, ATSF.

This insightful session will also include the presentation of the Philip Hopewell Prize for Leaders in Global Respiratory Health, as well as the Outstanding Clinician, Outstanding Educator, and Research Innovation and Translation Achievement Awards, so be sure to mark your calendars. The Plenary Session occurs at 11:45 a.m. PT on Tuesday, May 21, at the convention center (Ballroom B-D, upper level).

At the annual Women’s Forum, we will recognize women’s achievements in pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine. Taking place on Monday, May 20, 11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m. PT, at the Manchester Grand Hyatt (Seaport ABC Ballroom, second level), past Elizabeth A. Rich Award recipient Zea Borok, MD, ATSF, and this year’s recipient Stephanie Davis, MD, ATSF, will share their experiences as women leaders in the respiratory community.

Also not to be missed is the annual Diversity Forum, open to all ATS Members on Sunday, May 19, 11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m. PT, at the Manchester Grand Hyatt (Seaport ABC Ballroom, second level). This year’s speaker is Tyra Byrant-Stephens, MD, a nationally recognized pediatrician with over three decades of experience. Dr. Bryant-Stephens has been lauded for her work in community-driven, evidence-based research on asthma and environmental triggers. The 2024 Underrepresented Trainee Development Scholarship and 2024 Diversity Fellowship recipients will also be presented during this forum.

That same afternoon, I look forward to chairing the Scientific Symposium sessions (part one and part two) hosted jointly by the ATS and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute on inclusive practices in clinical trial recruitment. The lack of proper representation in clinical trials leads to knowledge gaps that widen disparities in treatment and outcomes for underrepresented populations. Despite our collective best efforts, inclusive recruitment remains a challenge. In these sessions, you’ll learn about the best practices and methodologies for recruiting diverse populations in pulmonary and critical care clinical trials. Please join me for part one on Sunday, May 19, at 2:15-3:15 p.m. and part two on the same day at 3:15-4:15 p.m. These sessions will be held in the same room of the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, Marina Ballroom E (third level, South Tower). Thanks to NHLBI’s Roya Kalantari, PhD, and Sumita Bhattacharya Khatri, MD, MS, ATSF, for organizing this symposium!

On that note, I am honored this year to have New York-based writer Maria Smilios, author of the book, “The Black Angels: The Untold Story of the Nurses Who Helped Cure Tuberculosis,” join us at this year’s conference to discuss the story of the Black nurses of Sea View Hospital on Staten Island, NY, who overcame the racial discrimination and segregation of the Jim Crow era to care for patients suffering from tuberculosis. Ms. Smilios will discuss her revelatory research in a “Fireside Chat” on the Black Angels at the ATS Center on Monday, May 20, 10-10:45 a.m. in the Sails Pavilion (upper level). She will also discuss her book in a session entitled “The Untold Story of the Nurses Who Helped Cure Tuberculosis” on Tuesday, May 21, 10:30-11:30 a.m., in Room 28 A (upper level). Learn more here.

I’m also looking forward to this year’s J. Burns Amberson Lecture and to celebrate the recipients of the Edward Livingston Trudeau Medal and Distinguished Achievement Awards, all being presented at the Awards Ceremony, Sunday, May 19, 4:30-5:30 p.m. PT at the convention center (Ballroom B-D, upper level). The Recognition for Scientific Accomplishment Awards are also not to be missed; they will be presented on Monday, May 20, 2:15-3:45 p.m. in Room 29 A-D, upper level. You can find more details here.

If you are not able to join us in San Diego, I encourage you to consider ATS 2024 Highlights: On Demand. You’ll get access to 13 live-streamed sessions, including this year’s Keynote Series, Clinical Year in Review, and the Adult Clinical Core Curriculum. Additionally, you can view approximately 40 recorded sessions, including the Opening Ceremony and Plenary Session. (Full conference registrants can access On Demand for free!).

This message will be my last as ATS President as my term draws to a close at the Conference. It has been an incredibly fulfilling year, and I am deeply grateful to numerous ATS members and staff for their unwavering dedication, effort, and encouragement. Although stepping down is bittersweet, I will leave the role of president in the most capable hands of my successor, Irina Petrache, MD, ATSF, who will be a phenomenal leader for the Society. Dr. Petrache is a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado and serves as chief of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine; associate vice president of faculty development; Wollowick Chair in COPD Research; and professor of medicine at National Jewish Health.

I look forward to continuing my work on the ATS Executive Committee as immediate past president and as president of the Forum of International Respiratory Societies. See you in San Diego!

M. Patricia Rivera, MD, ATSF, ATS President

Don’t Miss ATS 2024 Highlights: On Demand

Don’t forget that ATS 2024 Highlights: On Demand are available to all conference registrants! On Demand will give you access to the Opening Ceremony, Plenary Session, Keynote Series, Clinical Year in Review, Adult Clinical Core Curriculum, and so much more. The topics will cover ILD, asthma, health equity, and CF, to name just a few. On Demand content will be accessible to all ATS 2024 full conference and On Demand registrants until March 2025.