Last week the American Thoracic Society 2012 International Conference in San Francisco highlighted the ongoing work of many NHLBI investigators. In the conference's opening address, Dr. John Luce gave an amazing description of the origins of the AIDS/HIV epidemic and its early manifestations in San Francisco. It was an inspiring talk. Dr. Jack Elias, a member of the NHLBI Advisory Committee, delivered the J. Burns Amberson Lecture in recognition of his career accomplishments in pulmonary research. There were far too many sessions to identify individually, but work on cystic fibrosis, sleep medicine, and sessions on the extraordinary work supported by ARRA funding were particular highlights. ATS leadership has a strong commitment to engagement of patients and advocates and to conversations with the public and legislators on the impact of public funding for biomedical research.
NHLBI Division of Lung Diseases Director Jim Kiley presented on the challenge of finding effective therapies for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Kudos to him and to the array of DLD staff who organized or co-chaired panels, including Gail Weinmann on the Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Network (IPFNET), Michael Twery on the Sleep Heart Health Study, Andrea Harabin on the ARDS Network, Danny Lewin on the Childhood Adenotonsillectomy Trial (CHAT), and Susan Banks-Schlegel on major scientific advances from NHLBI Recovery Act-funded Challenge grants. Susan also co-chaired and Carol Blaisdell organized a panel on the newly published Infant Study of Inhaled Saline in Cystic Fibrosis (ISIS) study.
Congratulations as well to our grantees who received notable awards at the meeting:
On Monday, the ATS Women's Forum—a wonderful, annual opportunity to convene women members and leaders of the society while highlighting the advancement of women in pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine—honored our long-time esteemed investigator, Dr. Jo Rae Wright. Dr. Wright was the first woman and first non-M.D. president of ATS, a fantastic colleague whose death earlier this year was a great loss to the entire community. This year's panel discussed work-life balance.
Dr. Wright used her various leadership roles to create a culture that assumed that to get the best out of people, you had to embrace the whole person. In so doing, she turned the issue of work-life balance into a serious conversation among women and men that has changed professional culture. The impact of her spirit and conviction is truly a clarion call for work-life balance.
As always, it was a pleasure to attend the conference and hear more about everyone's ongoing discoveries.