ATS 2024: Bridging the Past, Present, and Future of Respiratory Care


The application of artificial intelligence in medicine is anticipated as a highlight of ATS 2024, with sessions exploring its applications in research, radiological interpretation, and pediatric pulmonology.

Doctor examining a patient's x-ray - StockPhotoPro -

The American Thoracic Society's annual conference brings together nearly 14,000 pulmonary, critical care, and sleep professionals to learn about the latest advances.

Image credit: StockPhotoPro -

The American Thoracic Society (ATS) 2024 International Conference, set to begin May 17 and conclude at the end of May 22 with events held at the San Diego Convention Center and Marriott Marquis San Diego & Marina, is poised to be a pivotal event in the fields of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine.1 The meeting will serve as a comprehensive platform for health professionals to discuss and disseminate the most recent advancements and innovations in respiratory care, emphasizing both historical insights and future trends.

Keynote Series: Exploring the Intersection of Innovation

The ATS Keynote Series will set the stage with exploration of critical topics at the intersection of technology and health care. "One will be the use of AI [artificial intelligence] in medicine; the second will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of the first ICU that was developed in Denmark in response to the polio pandemic," Debra Boyer, MD, MHPE, ATSF, a pediatric pulmonologist with a specialty in lung transplantations and chair of the ATS International Conference Committee, said in an interview.2 "The author of a book [The Autumn Ghost: How the Battle Against a Polio Epidemic Revolutionized Modern Medical Care], Hannah Wunsch, MD, MSc, is going to talk about that story, which is really going to be interesting.

The first keynote session, "Artificial Intelligence in Medicine," chaired by Michael Howell, MD, MPH, from Google, will delve into the role of AI in health care.1 Fatima Rodriguez, MD, MPH, FACC, FAHA, from Stanford University, and Matthew DeCamp, MD, PhD, from the University of Colorado, will provide insights into the benefits and challenges of AI application in health care settings, aiming to critically examine the transformative potential of AI while addressing ethical considerations and potential obstacles.

Continuing the trajectory, the second keynote session, "From Polio to COVID-19: Lessons in Ventilation from Our Past," underscores the importance of historical perspectives in informing contemporary medical practices. Introduced by Lauren E. Ferrante, MD, MHS, ATSF from Yale School of Medicine, and featuring Hannah Wunsch, MD, MSc, from Weill Cornell Medicine, this discussion will explore the evolution of ventilation strategies in response to pandemics, drawing parallels between past and present challenges such as COVID-19.

The third keynote session, "Immigrant Health," chaired by Fernando L. Holguin, MD, from the University of Colorado, will spotlight the health disparities faced by migrant populations.

"We have 3 different individuals from across the country, ranging from a DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] recipient, who herself is now an emergency medicine resident in training, to folks that do work in environmental health for immigrants [Denisse Rojas Marquez, MD], as well as a pediatrician [Julie M. Linton, MD] who advocates for health care for children who are immigrants to the US," Boyer said.2 "Those are going to be really exciting keynotes that I hope people will be able to attend."

The complex interplay of cultural, structural, and socioeconomic factors contributing to migrant health disparities will be driving the conversation while also highlighting the resilience and support within this community and how to adapt systems in order to integrate care.1 Overall, the symposium aims to foster dialogue and propose actionable strategies to address the unique health care needs of migrant populations.

Clinical Topics in Pulmonary Medicine: A Deep Dive Into Current and Emerging Issues

The conference will feature an extensive array of sessions that focus on critical clinical topics within pulmonary medicine. These sessions include detailed discussions such as the "Fellows Case Conference" and "Great Cases: Clinical, Radiologic, and Pathologic Correlations," which provide invaluable learning opportunities through real-world case studies.

Other notable sessions, such as "Combined Pulmonary Fibrosis and Emphysema" and "Molecular Biomarker Success Stories in Chronic Lung Disease," will delve into the intricacies of disease management and diagnostic advancements. The inclusion of sessions focused on the care of diverse populations, such as "Special Considerations for Transgender or Nonbinary Patients," underscores the need to address gaps left in care.

Educational Programs and Networking Opportunities: Enhancing Professional Development

The conference will host several educational programs tailored to various career stages, including the "Respiratory Innovation Summit" and "New Faculty Boot Camp." These sessions are designed to equip new and established professionals with the skills and knowledge necessary to navigate the evolving health care landscape. Moreover, networking events such as the "Networking Exchange for Early Career Professionals" and the "Annual ATS Research Program Benefit" will provide opportunities for attendees to engage with peers, celebrate achievements, and foster collaborative relationships.

According to Boyer, AI will take center stage, with sessions exploring its applications in research, radiological interpretation, and pediatric pulmonology. In addition to an expanding lineup of symposia and abstract sessions, attendees can also look forward to discussions on data led by prominent governmental organizations like NASA, the FDA, and NIDA.2


1. Program at a glance. ATS 2024. Accessed May 16, 2024.

2. Santoro C. Dr Debra Boyer previews ATS 2024 International Conference. The American Journal of Managed Care®. May 16, 2024. Accessed May 16, 2024.

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