Harold on History: The Evolution of the ACC Annual Scientific Session

ACC.17, being held in Washington, DC, convenes the 66th Annual Scientific Session of the ACC. Soon after the founding of the College in 1949, the concept of national meetings was introduced to bring together the cardiovascular community to present on scientific research and meet with thought leaders. Continuing education of practicing clinicians became its mission, and Franz Groedel, MD, MACC, stated that any educational endeavor of the ACC had to impart a “chunk of useful knowledge” to the practicing cardiologist.

Groedel was joined in 1950 by Bruno Kisch, MD, MACC, and 11 trustees of the New York Cardiological Society, who became the founding trustees of the College. Within two years, several hundred cardiovascular specialists were elected to membership in the College. Groedel and Kisch envisioned an organization with greater national scope. In December 1951, more than 400 physicians joined the first national meeting of the ACC, held in New York City at the Hotel Statler. Unfortunately, Groedel did not live to participate in the first meeting, having sustained a fatal skull fracture.

Kisch, who succeeded Groedel as president of the ACC, remarked that “for the first time in this country [the ACC would bring together] the clinician and scientist in common work and exchange of opinions… for the best of the suffering cardiac patient.” Simon Dack, MD, MACC, became a fellow of the College in 1951, and then became the first scientific program director for the annual scientific meeting.

Cardiology Magazine, March. 2017"For the first time in this country [the ACC would bring together] the clinician and scientist in common work and exchange of opinions… for the best of the suffering cardiac patient." Bruno Kisch, MD, MACC

The annual scientific sessions were the genesis of many of the publications from the ACC. First, a new publication titled Transactions of the American College of Cardiology was created to publish the papers and lectures that were presented. Kisch was the first editor and was succeeded by Dack in 1953, launching his lifelong career as a medical editor.

Later, when a decision was made to create an official journal of the College, the American Journal of Cardiology made its debut in 1958 under Dack’s editorial leadership. This precursor to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (introduced in 1982) had 6,000 subscribers within the first two years. The ACC launched an audiotape journal called ACCESS (later called ACCEL) in 1968 featuring recordings from the annual meeting, symposia, and reviews of key articles from print journals.

The growing size and popularity of the national meetings led the ACC to hold its inaugural three-day symposium in 1961, in Boston at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital. The breadth and scope of the scientific sessions have continued to grow, reflecting the growth of the membership of the College. The program expanded to include original clinical and laboratory research, with the first invitation of abstracts in the early 1960s. The basic tenet of providing continuing medical education still holds true – and has been extended to include the entire cardiovascular care team and the global community of cardiovascular professionals.

Today, with more than 52,000 members from around the world, the College continues to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health in the midst of a constantly changing health care environment. The 66th Annual Scientific Session of the ACC will bring together the world’s leading cardiovascular professionals for 3 full days of innovative education, ground-breaking science and interactive debates and discussion.


John Gordon Harold, MD, MACC, is past president of the ACC and editor-in-chief of Cardiology.

Keywords: ACC Publications, Cardiology Magazine, ACC History, Education, Medical, Continuing, Fellowships and Scholarships, Publications, Skull Fractures, Trustees

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