|The AAD 70th Annual Meeting set an attendance record with 19,402 registrants.
Despite the abnormally overcast San Diego skies, the American Academy of Dermatology's 70th Annual Meeting, March 16–20, was a huge success. Maybe it's because all the best events happened indoors. Who needed Sea World, when there was a bright, lively atmosphere reverberating throughout the San Diego Convention Center? Dermatologists from around the world flocked to Southern California to network with colleagues and attend scientific sessions led by some of the top dermatologists in the world — and this year's meeting set multiple records.
By Sunday, March 18, Academy history was made as the 2012 Academy Meeting surpassed 69 other Annual Meetings to become the largest Academy meeting ever. By the end of the meeting, the total number of registrants for San Diego had reached 19,402. The previous record was set at the 2010 Annual Meeting in Miami, which had 19,342 total registrants. The 70th Annual Meeting also set a record for the number of registered medical members, at 5,729. The San Diego meeting also saw the highest percentage of international medical attendance at 4,148 or 38 percent (registration figures are unaudited numbers, available at press time).
Sunday morning Plenary highlights
The 2012 Sunday Morning Plenary on March 18 included lectures on the pioneering movement behind using botulinum toxin, the significance of telomere and telomerase in maintaining human health, and the way in which antimicrobial peptides are key to defending our immune system. The guest speaker, legendary basketball player and sports analyst Bill Walton, spoke poignantly about overcoming physical adversity throughout his life. Academy leadership also addressed the future of dermatology and the ways in which dermatologists can bolster the specialty.
Dr. Moy addresses future of Academy
In his final speech as Academy president, Ronald L. Moy, MD
, addressed the Academy and specialty's need to adapt to a changing world. He acknowledged the Academy's many strengths, highlighting meeting-related education efforts. Dr. Moy also emphasized the Academy's commitment toward striving to be a more "member-focused, member-driven, and member-served" organization.
"It is an opportunity to be part of a greater good, a common cause, to rely on each other and draw strength from each other," he said. "That is how I would describe this year at our Academy. We are at the top of our game, committed to keeping you at the top of yours."
Dr. Siegel showcases Academy resources
Incoming president, Daniel M. Siegel, MD,
took a Steve Jobs approach as he addressed fellow dermatologists during Sunday's Plenary Session. Equipped with an iPad, Dr. Siegel demonstrated the AAD website, highlighting a number of key Academy services and resources. He also gave the audience a sneak peek at the upcoming iPad app for JAAD
"This is not the new AAD-approved dress code for dermatology meetings," Dr. Siegel said of his business-casual attire. "It is my way as your new president of honoring one of my heroes, the late Steve Jobs, and visually underscoring one of my messages today. I want there to be no mistake that the Academy is poised to lead you through the change swirling about, not only in our specialty, but in all of American medicine. We want to help you harness that change and make it work for you in caring for your patients."
Plenary lecturers present top-shelf science
Alastair Carruthers, MD, and Jean D. Carruthers, MD
, shared their clinical leadership journey in the use of botulinum toxin during the Eugene J. Van Scott Award for Innovative Therapy of the Skin and Phillip Frost Leadership Lecture. "A light went off in my head because Alastair was doing some cosmetic dermatology, and I know that wrinkles, deep lines, and furrows are serious cosmetic concerns for women," Dr. Jean Carruthers said. "That started us on a research project that ultimately led to the widespread application of botulinum toxin cosmetic treatment. Today, it is the most performed cosmetic procedure in the world."
Nobel laureate Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD
, delivered the Lila Gruber Memorial Cancer Research Award and Lectureship at the Plenary. She discussed how telomerase function and dysfunction affect disease and the role of telomerase in cancer. "Impaired replenishment and function of cells with compromised telomere maintenance is emerging as a potential root factor underlying mechanisms and etiologies of co-morbid long-term, chronic diseases," she said. "As we move further into this century and look at the demographics worldwide, sorting this out is going to be very important."
Richard L. Gallo, MD, PhD
, delivered the Marion B. Sulzberger, MD, Memorial Award and Lectureship, "AMPing Up Our Skin Defense in a Dirty World." In his speech, Dr. Gallo explained how antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) work to protect the immune system and how they may play an important role in patients with skin disease. "Are there other benefits of skin bacteria?" Dr. Gallo asked rhetorically. "In fact there are. One of the most exciting is that we've shown that Staphylococcus epidermidis
dampens skin inflammation and acts as an anti TNF-alpha molecule. Interactions between surface microbes and the host can be beneficial."
Walton's speech a slam dunk
As someone who earned a spot in the basketball hall of fame, Bill Walton
knows what it's like to be a sports superstar. But he also knows the travails of a life of excruciating physical pain caused by spinal problems. "I spent two long years on the ground in excoriating, debilitating, unrelenting pain that I can only describe as being submerged in a vat of scalding acid with an electrifying current running through it, and I could never get out."
Despite setbacks, Walton's faith and patience helped him press on. "It's a miracle what has happened to me," Walton said. He went on to acknowledge dermatologists in the audience among physicians who are "saving lives, changing people's lives, and giving us that exterior, the covering, the sheen, the Sistine Chapel, that allows us to like ourselves so that someone else can like us."
Exhibit Hall and AAD Resource Center
The expansive Exhibit Halls in the San Diego Convention Center boasted 450 exhibiting companies, displaying their wide variety of products and services. The AAD Resource Center was bustling, offering a full range of AAD products at special show prices. Important programs were also highlighted, including SPOT Skin Cancer, a comprehensive awareness program set to launch widely May 7. The Resource Center had a full staff ready to answer member questions, sign on new members, and even collect a few membership fees in the process.
New and exciting additions to Annual Meeting
The 70th Annual Meeting saw the addition of many new features, including more locations to purchase or return tickets, a tasty new spot for lunch, and a space to relax and enjoy the company of friends and colleagues.
Counters dedicated to the purchase or exchange of tickets for education sessions were available near session rooms, in the Sails Pavilion, on level 3 of the convention center. These counters were only for education session ticket returns or purchases, not for meeting registration.
The new AAD Bistro provided attendees with a great place to eat lunch and network near the Exhibit Hall. And with days packed with attending scientific sessions and meetings, the Mingle Zone provided a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the meeting. With plenty of comfortable seats and computer stations, it was a great place to relax, meet with colleagues, and catch up on email.
Academy looks ahead to Boston, Miami Beach
Plans are under way for the 2012 Summer Academy Meeting
, Aug.15–19, in Boston. More information about this event will be available on the AAD website, www.aad.org
and in Dermatology World
in the coming months. The Academy's 71st Annual Meeting will be in Miami, March 1–5, 2013.