ACC.15 Kicks Off With Focus on Opportunity, Challenge and Leadership
ACC President Patrick T. O’Gara, MD, welcomed thousands of cardiovascular professionals to sunny San Diego for the College’s 64th Annual Scientific Session as part of the Opening Showcase Session on Saturday.
“San Diego offers more than good weather; it provides a venue for an innovative, interactive and informative three-day program designed to stimulate and inspire,” he said. “Why not take advantage of this time and place to expand your knowledge base, generate new insights, and connect across ideas and shared goals?”
As part of the session, O’Gara paid tribute to all those involved in making ACC.15 happen, including ACC.15 Chair Athena Poppas, MD, and Co-Chair Jeff Kuvin, MD. “You will soon come to appreciate the relevance of their chosen theme for this year, namely, ‘More Learning, Less Lecturing,’” O’Gara said. Poppas, who joined O’Gara on stage later in the session, highlighted the many new features that make ACC.15 stand out from previous meetings, including new learning formats, increased interactive opportunities, the more than 275 exhibiting companies making up the ACC.15 Expo, and more.
During his presidential address, O’Gara stepped out of his comfort zone as a “card-carrying clinical cardiologist” and focused on three themes – opportunity, challenge and leadership. He highlighted the many ways the field of cardiology has led the way in innovation over the past many decades and noted new things on the horizon, including PCSK-9 inhibitors, bioengineering feats, 3-D printers and big data.
“One question to ask, though, is whether we have the systems in place, organizational flexibility and what I will call the societal tolerance to allow for the practical implementation of these marvelous scientific advances?” he said. He highlighted the challenges associated with stagnant funding for medical research in the U.S., decreases in Medicare funding for post-graduate medical education, and the “crushing burden of what at times seems to be the unrestrained, external regulation of clinical care, research and training.”
O’Gara argued for a need to balance the relationship between regulation and quality. He cited the story of transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) as an example of looking beyond challenges and seizing opportunities. “The TAVR example is instructive for its focus on the patient, the principle that guides our actions,” he said.
Following his address, attendees took a moment of silence to remember ACC’s first woman president Suzanne Knoebel, MD, as well as Mehdi Ali Qamar, MBBS, and Michael Davidson, MD, both of whom tragically lost their lives in the practice of cardiovascular medicine this past year.
Abraham Verghese, MD, bestselling author and prominent voice in the medical community, provided the annual Simon Dack Lecture. Verghese provided an E. E. Cummings-inspired talk titled “I Carry Your Heart.” He talked about the importance of words, and how they are the glue that makes up meetings like ACC.15, from discussions among colleagues to reports of the latest clinical trials. He also talked about the similarities between the physician/patient relationship and rituals. “The relationships we have with patients are unlike any other relationships in society. It’s a powerful encounter,” he said.
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