Brian T. Kelly, MD, MA, FACAAI, Midwest Allergy and Asthma Clinic, and the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting program chair, discusses how this year’s conference content will demonstrate the joint themes of innovation and diversity, as well as what exciting developments presenters and attendees alike should watch for.
The themes of innovation and diversity will be interwoven throughout the conference days, as presenters will talk about how different communities, ethnicities, and cultures experience allergy and immunology, noted Brian T. Kelly, MD, MA, FACAAI, Midwest Allergy and Asthma Clinic, and the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting program chair.
How will the theme of “Promoting Innovation and Diversity” be woven throughout the conference?
Promoting innovation and diversity, I think has several different meanings to it. Our challenge as a program committee was to create a meeting that has both of those themes interwoven throughout as many sessions as possible. I think you'll see that with the program that we've put together and our members have put together, because they put in requests and give us ideas as well. Both our Saturday and Sunday plenary sessions focus on the theme. On Saturday, you will see Susan R. Bailey, MD, who's the previous president of the [American Medical Association], who will be giving a talk on allergy practices and how they worked through the pandemic to innovate and do things differently so that they could continue to care for patients safely in the best way possible.
You'll see on Sunday, even the title of our plenary session is “Innovating Our Way Out of the Pandemic,” which features 2 very prominent physicians throughout the United States, in Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, FASTMH, and Peter Marks, MD, PhD, and they're going to talk about different ways that the allergy and immunology specialty has changed and innovated our way to help our patients and help the community and the world to get out of this pandemic. They're going to talk about vaccine development and some of the therapeutics that have been created during the pandemic to help.
Diversity is a big, big word, and you'll see that theme throughout our meeting—and maybe not in totally intended ways either. We're going to talk about different ways that diversity impacts our patients and how different communities and different ethnicities and people of all different types experience allergy and immunology differently. You'll definitely see that in our Thursday program, talking about atopic dermatitis. There's an excellent session, “Disparities in the Air We Breathe,” where we're talking about some of the climate changes and how that affects diverse cultures.
You'll also see that there's diversity in the speakers. We have a very diverse group of speakers coming to speak at this meeting, which is fantastic. We have from young to old, younger and newer physicians, many female experts in the area of allergy and immunology are speaking at our meeting, and a diverse ethnic group of speakers—that's very exciting for us. I think one of our goals is really to encompass the entirety of allergy and immunology.
Finally, I think the biggest area of diversity throughout our meeting is you'll see a diverse set of sessions where anything that's part of the allergy and immunology world, you're going to see something about it in our meeting. It does offer something for everybody.
What should conference presenters and attendees be most excited to learn about this year?
I would say a couple of things stand out. Our Thursday program is generally the kickoff session of the week, and this year it’s focused on atopic dermatitis. There's going to be a lot of new and emerging therapies that are being discussed during that Thursday program, including going through some of those diversity issues that we talked about—looking at different types of skin color and what types of treatments are best used in that population—and really will kick off the meeting in a good way.
Friday is always popular, with our literature review, where we go through for the last year some of the most salient articles in the specialty of allergy and immunology, and we hear from some of the most prominent speakers throughout the country who are allergists/immunologists. I think that's always a very popular session for everybody. Throughout the weekend, [we’ll have] those plenary sessions that focus on diversifying and expanding the field of allergy and immunology and innovating our way out of the pandemic.
We've also tried to expand out and look into the COVID-19 atmosphere here, since that kind of clouds everything that we talk about nowadays, and I mentioned earlier, Dr Bailey is going to talk, and we're going to learn about vaccines during one of the plenaries. But also one of the biggest things that we've learned is there's a ton of misinformation that's being disseminated in our world, and we have 3 awesome experts who are very well versed in this area who are going to talk to our members about how to combat some of that, and how to recognize some of it, and how to be very well informed and how to utilize that so that we can best transition our patients away from some of that and get them into what's real and what's truthful, and really, hopefully provide them with the best evidence-based practice that we can.
Finally, some of our highest academic things are on Monday, which is traditionally the last day, so we try to incentivize our members to stay. Monday morning will be a plenary session that looks into the most recent guidelines that have been released by the joint allergy and immunology group who puts those together, the Joint Task Force; also our continuous assessment program review, which looks at all the articles needed to continue to maintain your certification in allergy.