|APSA 10th Annual Meeting|
Photos from the Meeting
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Date & Location
April 25-27, 2014
Main Event Locations
Crystal Room - Level 3, Fairmont Chicago Millenium Park
About the Meeting
APSA’s 10th Annual Meeting will be held in Chicago on April 25-27, 2014 in conjunction with the annual meetings of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) and the Association of American Physicians (AAP). This joint meeting will feature cutting edge research from physician-scientists across the country. The agenda includes numerous keynote addresses in addition to expert panels, student talks, a black tie dinner, and more!
Be sure to visit often for updates. We will be posting information on the meeting's agenda, panelists, welcome reception, and more!
APSA, ASCI, AAP, and several APSA partners provide travel awards for the most meritorious abstracts submitted to the Annual Meeting. Check the Poster Session tab for a full list of recipients.
Abstract deadline: Friday, December 13, 2013 (12 midnight EST) - This deadline has passed
Early registration deadline: Friday, March 28th, 2014 - This deadline has passed
On-line registration deadline: Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014
Friday, April 25: 7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
You can now register for the annual meeting here. A tentative schedule of events can be found under Agenda.
Prices are significantly higher for non-APSA members to register for the meeting. Become an APSA member today to take advantage of substantial registration savings!
A full refund of the registration fee or meal ticket less an administrative fee will be granted for all written requests received at least 30 days prior to the APSA Annual Meeting. No refunds will be made for cancellations received after this date.
The administration fee is as follows:
Telephone cancellations will not be accepted. Cancellations may be sent via email to [email protected]. The American Physician Scientists Association reserves the right to cancel any program and assumes no responsibility for personal expenses. All refunds are processed within 30 days of written cancellation notice.
Hotel & Travel
200 N. Columbus Drive
Event rates (per night)
*Each extra person sharing a room will be charged an additional $25 per night.
Room Reservation Deposit/Cancellation
All reservations require credit card guarantee or deposit for one night, including 15.4 percent occupancy tax. Rooms may be cancelled up to 48 hours prior to arrival with no fee. Cancellation within 48 hours of arrival will incur a charge of one night's room and tax to your credit card.
Local Chapter Travel Award
This year, APSA will be providing travel awards for the Annual Meeting to three institutions who best promote APSA and the organization's goals of developing the careers of aspiring physician scientists. These awards are meant to encourage and support interactions between APSA national and local chapters.
APSA is pleased to announce the recipients of the Local Chapter Travel Awards to the 10th Annual Meeting. Chapters at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Ohio State University, and the University of Kentucky. Congratulations to the recipients!
Abstract submission is now closed.
Best Poster Awards will be awarded in the amount of $1,000 each. Members of the ASCI, AAP, and APSA (including members of each Council) will judge posters on scientific novelty, quality and clarity of presentation. Awards will be presented on Saturday afternoon.
The presenting author must be at the poster board during the presentation time (11:45 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.). One or two authors should be in attendance during the presentation time as all posters will have reviewers assigned to stop by to discuss your poster. If you are unable to present your poster, email [email protected]. Please see Poster Session for details on how to prepare your poster.
Posters Must Be No Larger Than 4 Feet By 4 Feet
Your poster must be no larger than 4 feet high by 4 feet wide. Two posters will be presented side-by-side on each board. This is a change from previous years. Please bring your own push-pins.
Poster Session & Awards
APSA Partner Awards: AAI, ASIP/ICPI, SAEM, International Partners
APSA is pleased to announce the recipients of travel awards sponsored by our partners, the American Association of Immunologists (AAI), the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM), and the American Society for Investigative Pathology/Intersociety Council for Pathology Information (ASIP/ICPI). APSA is also pleased to announce awards sponsored by APSA to our international partners. Congratulations to the recipients of these awards!
AAI Awards ($200 each)
ASIP/ICPI Pathology Award ($750)
SAEM Awards ($500)
APSA-Sponsored International Partner Travel Awards ($500)
APSA, ASCI, AAP Abstract Travel Awards
Congratulations to the recipients of APSA, ASCI, and AAP abstract awards!
ASCI & AAP Abstract Travel Awards
APSA Abstract Travel Awards
Information for Award Recipients
Recipients of APSA Travel Awards should be aware of specific restrictions on what expenses can be reimbursed by this award. The following expenses can be reimbursed for through an APSA Travel Award:
Please note that the Annual Meeting registration fees and APSA membership dues are specifically excluded from reimbursement.
Posters Must Be No Larger Than 4 Feet By 4 Feet
Your poster must be no larger than 4 feet high by 4 feet wide. Two posters will be presented side-by-side on each board. This is a change from previous years. Please bring your own push-pins.
A poster is a visual presentation of your research or clinical project. Use schematic diagrams, graphs, tables and other strategies to direct the visual attention of the viewer, rather than explaining it using text as you would in a journal article.
A poster addresses one central question. State the question or hypothesis clearly in the poster and use your presentation to provide a clear and explicit take-home message. Posters usually have a similar structure to a research paper or journal article: an abstract, introduction (i.e., brief rationale or review of relevant research), method section, results section, and a conclusion or summary. If your poster is more clinically oriented, you may elect to use a different format, but breaking things down into clear sections with headings will help your colleagues understand your poster easily and quickly.
In the busy and crowded environment of a poster session, most people do not have the ability to read and process long sections of text. Therefore, keep text to the bare essentials and stick to the most important ideas. You can convey details via discussion when you are standing by your poster.
Poster Session Schedule
Presenters must be at their posters from 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 26. Presenters are not required to be present during all viewing hours.
Featured APSA Speakers
Peter Agre, MD
Napoleone Ferrara, MD
Hedvig Hricak, MD, PhD
D. Mark Courtney, MD
Paul Offit, MD
Mary Klotman, MD
Brian Kobilka, MD
Grant-writing for the post-graduate physician-scientist trainee: a practical approach to fellowship funding and beyond
Are you a resident or fellow considering submitting a fellowship grant? APSA is pleased to announce that Dr. José Cavazos, Director of the MD/PhD Program at UTHSC-San Antonio will be holding a workshop on grant-writing for the post-graduate physician-scientist trainee at the APSA 10th Annual Meeting on Thursday, April 24th from 5 to 6:30 PM at the Fairmont Hotel. Dr. Cavazos will share his tips and strategies for preparing fellowship proposals and will answer your questions. While the event is targeted at residents and fellows, it is open to any APSA member. Space is limited, so please RSVP to [email protected] with your name, institution, and training level.
Join APSA, CSCTR, and MWAFMR members at Mercat a la Planxa for food, drinks, and good company on Thursday, April 24th beginning at 9 PM and at Kitty O'Shea's beginning at 10 PM. Mercat is located inside the Renaissance Blackstone Hotel at 636 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605. See flier for details.
APSA's Welcome Reception will be held 1000 feet above Chicago at the John Hancock Center. Come prepared on Friday April 25th for a night of tasty appetizers, scrumptious desserts, good drinks, and of course fantastic company! Business casual attire suggested.
Shuttles will be running from the Fairmont B2 motor lobby to the Hancock Center (and returning to the Fairmont) continuously from 8:30 pm Friday with the last shuttle leaving Hancock at 12:30 am Saturday.
Research-oriented residency and fellowship program directors will be at the 10th Annual Meeting to talk to you from noon to 2 PM on Sunday, April 27th. Over lunch, get your questions about specific programs and the nature of physician-scientist training after medical and graduate school answered by the experts. If you are applying to residency soon, this is an unparalleled opportunity to connect with program directors.
APSA has an exciting lineup of panels throughout the 10th Annual Meeting. Panel topics include Women in Medicine, Policy, Post-Graduate Opportunities, Public Outreach, and the Physician-Scientist Career for Undergraduates.
APSA is excited to announce the panelists for the 2014 Policy Panel, and they include experts from academia, government, and the biomedical/pharmaceutical industry. The panelists will be discussing success stories from the FDA approval process, lessons learned in starting and building biotech companies, and how to become a successful entrepreneur as an academic physician-scientist. There will be ample time allotted for questions and answers, so please join us!
Join APSA for dinner in the Moulin Rouge on Saturday, April 26th. Our speaker is Paul Offit, MD, of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, who will be speaking about The Rotavirus Vaccine: From Bench To Bedside.
APSA Interest Group & Mentorship Session
APSA is excited to announce the Interest Group and Mentorship Session taking place Sunday morning during the 10th Annual Meeting. APSA has assembled a group of leading physician-scientists from across the spectrum of medical science to interact with APSA members. Check the list below for your specialty of interest and be sure to join the session on Sunday!
Internal Medicine/Research Track Residency
Note: APSA specific events are in bold.
Thursday, April 24th
Friday, April 25th
Saturday, April 26th
Sunday, April 27th
Residency Luncheon Program List
New programs will be added to the list as the meeting approaches. Check back for updates!
APSA gratefully acknowledges the following organizations for their sponsorship of the 10th Annual Meeting. Sponsors help make the APSA Annual Meeting possible through financial contributions, sponsorship of speakers, and support of mentorship activities.
Platinum Sponsors ($20,000+)
Funding for the APSA Annual Meeting (2009-2014) is made possible (in part) by R13 CA136301 from the National Cancer Institute. The views expressed in written conference materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does mention by trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.
Gold Sponsors ($10,000+)
Silver Sponsors ($5,000+)
Bronze Sponsors ($3,000+)
Ruby Sponsors (up to $1,000)
10th Annual Meeting Organizing Committee
Compiled and written by Alex Adami with contributions from Dylan Nielson, Evan Noch, Jennifer Kwan and Rebecca Autenried.
Ten short years ago, Freddy Nguyen and the first student leaders of APSA held the inaugural Annual Meeting in Chicago, ushering in a decade of growth, advocacy, and achievement. The 10th Annual Meeting (AM) continued this fine tradition, featuring world-renowned speakers, workshops and panels on key issues for physician-scientist trainees, and unmatched networking opportunities with senior leaders in biomedical science.
CSCTR/MWAFMR Combined Meeting
The AM began with the Combined Annual Meeting of the Central Society for Clinical and Translational Research (CSCTR) and Midwestern Section of the American Federation for Medical Research (MWAFMR) on Thursday, April 24th. APSA members joined CSCTR and MWAFMR members for a series of career development workshops, the welcome reception and poster session, and evening lectures, including the Max Miller Lecture given by Samuel Dagogo-Jack and the Management of Chronic Diseases session, highlighted by a presentation from Michael J. Welsh, a leader in the study of cystic fibrosis. The opening night concluded with a joint social event at the CSCTR/MWAFMR meeting hotel.
Concurrently, APSA sponsored a session on grant-writing targeting residents and fellows and led by José Cavazos, Director of the MD/PhD Program at UTHSC-San Antonio. Dr. Cavazos led a small group of 15 in the finer points of NIH K award applications. He cautioned applicants to remember to review the instructions for the grant carefully, as many mistakes can be corrected before submission if the instructions are followed. He stressed that the application is a mentored clinical scientist research career development award, with emphasis on "mentored" and “research”. The award provides for 75% protected time for research in most fields and 50% in surgical subspecialties.
Friday morning was all business, with presentations from current APSA leaders and speeches from candidates for officers in the next year. Following welcome messages from Eve Geneva, Chair of the APSA Board of Directors, and Evan Noch, APSA President, the standing committees gave their reports, and the progress in the last year was fantastic. The Policy Committee is preparing to submit several manuscripts on APSA policy initiatives; watch for those. The Partnerships Committee reported a banner year of collaborations and strengthened ties with many societies, from pathology to dermatology to gastroenterology. The Finance Committee came to the meeting with a strong list of new funding bolstered by the last-minute notice of a $25,000 grant from Genentech! Public Relations featured the great work done on the website and social media outlets and updates to APSA’s databases of dual-degree and research residency training programs. The Membership Committee had a strong year of growing institutional membership purchases and involvement. The Events Committee had great results from the regional meetings, including notice of a 2014 West Regional Meeting, the first in several years.
The candidates for office in 2014-2015 next gave their speeches to the institutional representatives, who elected the next generation of APSA leaders shortly thereafter. Congratulations to your 2014-2015 APSA Leaders!
Candidate speeches were followed by presentations from APSA partner organizations and local chapters. Three local chapters received awards to attend the 10th AM: the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Kentucky, and The Ohio State University. All showcased impressive achievements from the past year, including outreach to undergraduates at their institutions and the hosting of nationally renowned leaders in science and medicine at research days and scholarly events.
APSA’s international partners next took the stage, continuing a tradition of international collaboration and exchange. Representatives of French, Swiss, Canadian, and United Kingdom organizations were in attendance. The diversity of experiences and training strategies were impressive, ranging from the national-level programs to support students in France and Switzerland to no official funding and only two dedicated programs in the United Kingdom. All stressed the value of their partnerships with APSA. APSA’s President-Elect Michael Guo delivered the closing remarks for the Business Meeting, outlining his goals and aspirations for APSA over the coming year, including reaching 1400 members, growing our partnerships, and strengthening APSA’s long-term financial foundation.
The first plenary session of the 10th AM began with a presentation sponsored by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine by Dr. D. Mark Courtney, an Emergency Physician at Northwestern University. He described the many opportunities for emergency care research in the United States, stressing that this unconventional career path for a physician-scientist is both possible and rewarding, particularly when supported by senior leaders at your institution. Nobel Laureate Brian Kobilka next took the stage, describing the fascinating story of the discovery of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) and how we can potentially exploit their structure and function to shape physiology and disease. He also gave encouragement to everyone who has ever experienced anxiety or trepidation before giving a talk. After Dr. Kobilka’s first scientific talk, Robert Lefkowitz, his mentor and co-recipient of the Nobel Prize, a man who "couldn’t tell a lie", declared "that was the best presentation you could have given." The next time you are anxious about a talk or speech, just remember that even Nobel Laureates can feel the same way.
Next to the lectern was a speaker invited by the ASCI/AAP, Richard Lifton, of Yale University. A pioneer in the application of genetic techniques to hypertensive diseases, Dr. Lifton spoke of his work elucidating the role of rare variations in genes encoding ion channel genes in blood pressure, and hailed the promise of DNA sequencing to change how we approach everything from cancer treatment to newborn screening. Dr. Lifton was followed by Laurie Glimcher, Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College and a leader in immunology, rheumatology, and skeletal biology. Her story of the discovery of the gene SHN3 was a lesson in the serendipity of the scientific process. Pursuing the gene that would later be dubbed Tbet, her laboratory stumbled upon SHN3. They found no immune phenotype, but one of her trainees reported that they could not extract bone marrow from long bones in mutant mice. Taking the bones down the hall to her father’s orthopedic surgery laboratory, they found an enormous increase in bone mass, for SHN3 is a critical gene regulating function and activity of osteoclasts. The key role of SHN3 in regulating bone density holds great promise for future therapeutic interventions in osteoporosis and osteopenia.
Newly-elected ASCI and AAP members next delivered presentations, while APSA members moved to the Crystal Room for a panel on the "Intertwining Growth of Women and Medicine in the 21st Century." Moderated by APSA Board Chair Eve Geneva, panelists Amy Y. Chen, MD; Amy H. Kaji, MD, PhD; and Usha Raj, MD shared their career advice and took questions from the audience. Dr. Kaji advised trainees to get involved from an early stage with your specialty society or favorite journal. Currently an editor of the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine, she began as a journal reviewer, advancing to editor on the strength of her contributions. Dr. Raj stressed the importance of having goals and a plan for your life and career, including both career plans and major life events, such as becoming a parent. Dr. Chen echoed these sentiments but cautioned that planning and goal-setting only take you so far. It is important, she stated, to be mindful that plans and goals do not always work out. Part of navigating your career is being prepared to make the most of what comes your way. All three emphasized the importance of not neglecting family and friends. As Dr. Chen put it, those people will be there when times are tough, and neglecting them when you are busy will hurt you when you need support.
All three made much of the need to sell one’s self well. As Dr. Chen put it, men sell themselves better than women do, and she can often tell a male CV from a female just by the way in which accomplishments are framed. Being a vocal advocate for yourself is critical, and mentors cannot do this for you. Along that vein, Dr. Raj spoke to the tricky question of salary. Salary disparities exist in medicine, and they will not be corrected by avoiding the subject. Dr. Raj also spoke of the need to involve men in the conversation. Advocating for and supporting the careers of women in science and medicine will require the involvement of everyone, not just the women, and for good reason: the advancement and achievement of women will support men as well as women. We are all in this together, and should not see the issues facing women as a fight against men but rather as a fight alongside men to improve things for everyone.
Following the panel, all reconvened in the main ballroom for the second half of the plenary session. José Baselga of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center began by describing the complexities of the PI3K-AKT-mTOR pathway in cancer. Multiple PI3K inhibitors are in active clinical trials, but they have a puzzling lack of efficacy in certain patients. By studying these patients, Dr. Baselga was able to determine that mutations in PTEN rendered cancers non-responsive to PI3K inhibition by pushing the pathway in a different direction. Targeting these alternative pathways may prove one way to improve therapeutics.
A different take on cancer therapy came from the next speaker, Carl June, a pioneer in engineering the immune system to combat cancer. As he described it, two approaches currently exist. The first, engineering T cells with higher affinity for tumor antigens, requires donor cells that are an HLA match for the recipient. The second, chimeric antigen receptors (CARs), can be designed to obviate the requirement for tumor MHC recognition. Currently, the time to take cells from a patient, engineer them with a CAR, and place them back in the patient is down to 10 days, an incredible feat. He spoke of adding cell therapies as a fourth pillar to the existing three of pharma, biotech, and medical devices, but cautioned that we must get CARs like cars, where automation removes the need for many human hands working, before cell therapies can become widely applicable. Thus far, CARs have primarily proven their worth in hematologic malignancies, and one of his final challenges to the audience was to imagine the possibilities when cell therapies are made to work in solid tumors.
Howard Rockman, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, gave the annual update on JCI. He began with news sure to depress any aspiring JCI author, namely that the journal received over 4000 submissions between April 2013 and April 2014, accepting just 10.1% of these. However, his next remarks were more encouraging, announcing a new policy where the editorial board will examine peer reviewer’s comments to reduce excessive requested experiments and help eliminate the infamous "I’d like you to perform three R01s worth of work for your resubmission" comments from JCI reviewers. He also had a special benefit to announce for ASCI members: once per year, an ASCI member can submit a manuscript to the JCI and be guaranteed peer review of that manuscript, bypassing initial editorial rejection. However, he also cautioned that this was no guarantee of acceptance, only of review.
The JCI report was followed by the ASCI Presidential Address [Eds Note: To be posted.] from Peter Tontonoz of UCLA. He targeted three important roles for the ASCI and its members. First, ASCI members need to be good role models and mentors, mastering the art of scientific mentoring, to promote the next generation of scientific leaders. Second, and presaging the message of one of APSA’s panels for Saturday, ASCI members must be the public face of science and medicine, "preaching to the unconverted" and sharing the promise and excitement of science with the public. Only by helping the public understand the value of science and research can the goals and hopes of all present be achieved. Finally, ASCI members need to be evangelists for basic science, not just clinical or translational science. There is a problem, as he put it, with assumptions we make. For example, "since there is no published GWAS signal at this locus, the gene is not relevant to human disease and therefore is not relevant" at all. This is the wrong message. Dr. Tontonoz reminded us that no one, whether newly-minted graduate student or Nobel Laureate, can predict which basic science endeavors will bear fruit. He harkened back to his days as a graduate student, when a neighboring laboratory found the gene MSH in yeast. One might scoff at the significance of a yeast gene until one recalls that MSH is part of the mismatch repair (MMR) pathway that produces so many human colon cancers when disrupted. He also reminded us of the serendipitous story told by Dr. Glimcher earlier in the day. He urged everyone to avoid getting into the zero-sum game of translational research, above and before all else.
The future of ASCI, he proposed, needs to include more advocacy and support for science, particularly young investigators. The ASCI needs to use all its 7800 members, not just the few councilors, to advocate. Dr. Tontonoz and the ASCI leadership have established new young physician-scientist awards, and their goal is to further promote and sponsor research funding for young investigators. Indeed, ASCI is putting its money where its mouth is, placing $1 million in a fund to start this process and working on strategic partnerships with major donors, including the Harrington Discovery Institute. We must, he concluded, carry what Robert Lefkowitz called the "spirit of science" with us in all that we do.
Following the ASCI Presidential Address, the ASCI/Stanley J. Korsmeyer award lecture was delivered by Beth Levine of UT Southwestern Medical Center. Dr. Levine, a pioneer in autophagy research, is an example of where basic science can be taken. Autophagy was long known in yeast, but the field exploded after Dr. Levine showed that a mammalian autophagy gene, Beclin1, both existed and played a critical role in cellular homeostasis. Demonstrating its relevance in human breast cancer, Dr. Levine went on to show the influence of autophagy on lifespan in nematodes and how a process that seemed so improbable in mammals actually had a huge role to play in exercise responses and glucose tolerance.
The scientific session concluded with a special event, the first APSA-Lasker Award Lecture sponsored by APSA and The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation. Claire Pomeroy, President of the Lasker Foundation, introduced the speaker, Dr. Napoleone Ferrara, pioneering cancer researcher and pathologist who discovered vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF. His discovery led to the development of bevacizumab (Avastin), a powerful monoclonal antibody used for cancer treatment, and ranibizumab (Lucentis), a similar drug used to treat macular degeneration. Dr. Ferrara spoke at length on the exciting story of VEGF’s discovery and translation into clinical medicine. Speaking much of cancer therapy, he also dedicated the final portion of his talk to the promise of anti-VEGF therapy in improving treatment of macular degeneration. Want to view the lecture? Watch it on APSA's YouTube!
As the science for the day concluded, APSA members dispersed to one of several dinner outings led by APSA leaders at local Chicago restaurants. If you didn’t make it to one of these outings this year, be sure you take advantage at the 11th AM! After dinner, the highlight (in more ways than one) of the day took place on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center at the end of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. APSA’s Welcome Reception is not to be missed, and is a great time to relax with fellow APSA members and enjoy good food in a spectacular setting. Evan Noch delivered the APSA Presidential Address before the spectacular Chicago skyline. Evan reminded us of how far APSA has come in 10 years, with over 100 Executive Council members, 30 members of the Board of Directors, and thousands of members having made the last decade of APSA possible. Furthermore, Evan noted, APSA’s accomplishments over the past year have been exemplary. APSA has launched initiatives that have significantly impacted trainees, including many arising from the Policy Committee. APSA has continued to grow its membership, counting nearly 1300 trainees as members this year and 25 institutional members. APSA has initiated online interactive group sessions (this year, led by Dr. Barry Coller and Dr. Jaimo Ahn), added many new partnerships and strengthened existing ones thanks to the Partnerships Committee. The list goes on, and now we have the opportunity and responsibility to continue these achievements and build upon them in the years to come.
Evan also recognized a few members whose hard work was key to the success of APSA, both over the last year and in years before, including Alex Adami, a Vice-Chair of the Policy Committee and A/V Coordinator for the Annual Meeting, and Eve Geneva, Chair of the Board and former President of APSA. We also bid a fond farewell to Diane Rutherford, APSA’s Executive Director, who is retiring from the Sherwood Group after having shepherded APSA as it has grown and matured. Her presence will be greatly missed. Thanks for all you have done for APSA, Diane!
Finally, there was one special member recognized for his role in making everything APSA has done and will do possible. That, of course, is Freddy Nguyen, APSA’s founder and longtime President and Chair of the Board of Directors. Eve Geneva, current Chair of the Board of Directors, presented the inaugural Director’s Award on behalf of the APSA Board of Directors, the ASCI, and the AAP to Freddy for all he has done for APSA. Freddy’s efforts and dedication both created APSA and kept the organization alive and well during its early, formative years. His legacy has and will continue to serve as "the backbone of the organization".
Saturday began with the mentoring breakfast, always a highlight of the AM. APSA members have the opportunity to share breakfast with prominent members of the ASCI and AAP, this year including William C. Hahn, ASCI Immediate Past President, and Deborah Novack, ASCI Councilor, among many others. From the mentoring breakfast, it was on to the second Plenary Session, opened by Jean Bennett, who spoke of the promise of gene therapy in the treatment of congenital blinding disorders. Dr. Bennett is a pioneer in intraocular gene therapy and in the study of congenital blinding disorders, leading one of the first studies to restore sight in a canine model of one such disease. She was followed by Martin Blaser, himself a pioneering biomedical researcher in the realm of host-microbe interactions. Dr. Blaser’s lab has undertaken detailed study of the role of the host microbiome in development, and he proposed the disappearing microbiota hypothesis as at least a partial explanation for the rise in many diseases, including allergy and obesity, over recent decades. As he put it, overuse of antibiotics change the microbiome, and because we inherit much of our microbiome from our parents, this change is partially heritable. Pointing out that the maps for antibiotic use and obesity rates in the United States are remarkably similar (with highest concentration of both in the Deep South), he described how disruption of the microbiome in young mice produced transient microbial changes but permanent phenotypic shifts.
The first APSA trainee abstract presentation was next, delivered by David Y. Chiang of Baylor College of Medicine, who spoke of his work in studying the ryanodine receptor in atrial fibrillation (AF). AF is a progressive disease, and he utilized a mouse model overexpressing the gene Crem to study it. These mice spontaneously develop AF, and he reported his just-published research that disrupted phosphorylation of the ryanodine receptor plays a role in AF development. Christine Seidman, AAP Vice-President and prominent cardiac geneticist, next spoke of the revolution in cardiology initiated by genetic investigation. Many genes are known to be associated with cardiac diseases, such as the multiple types of heart failure, but the precise role for many of these genes in disease pathophysiology is currently unclear. Dr. Seidman’s group examined one of these genes, the muscle-associated gene titin (TTN). Titin encodes a large protein involved in muscular contraction, and it is linked to dilated cardiomyopathy through several distinct mutations. Dr. Seidman’s group found a number of mutations in titin in her patients, including many truncating mutations. As her analysis found, truncating mutations predicted more severe disease and that the location within the gene where the truncation was found played an important role in just how severe disease was. These and other studies from her group seek to uncover more of the complex landscape of genetic mutations in heart failure with a goal of identifying therapeutic targets.
Just as APSA presented the first APSA/Lasker Award Lecture, the next speaker inaugurated a new collaboration between the Harrington Discovery Institute and the ASCI: the Harrington Prize for Innovation in Medicine, awarded to pediatric cardiologist Harry (Hal) Dietz. Dietz spoke of his initial foray into the pathophysiology of aortic dissection in Marfan Syndrome, work which led to the application of common therapeutics to treat this deadly disease complication. His work led to new studies in scleroderma, implicating the same gene (fibrillin) whose mutation drives Marfan Syndrome, although the mutation seen in scleroderma differs. Work in one field or disease, as Dr. Deitz shows, can impact a host of other diseases in ways impossible to foresee.
Jeffrey Gelhausen next delivered the second APSA trainee abstract presentation, speaking of his work developing a Cre mouse model of neurofibromatosis, type 2. Bilateral vestibular schwannomas, a tumor of the central nervous system, are a hallmark of the disease, and his new mouse model recapitulates this important clinical outcome in the mouse, including the hearing loss associated with the tumors in humans. His model will likely prove highly relevant for researchers studying this disease. APSA continued its lineup with the joint APSA/Infectious Diseases Society of America-sponsored speaker, Mary Klotman. Dr. Klotman studies HIV and its intersection with renal diseases. Intriguingly, she has shown that renal disease arises from renal viral expression, not mere systemic infection. Viral transfection of kidney cells produces histologic and phenotypic changes in the cells, such as multinucleation, as a survival response in those cells. Encouragingly, for all those who utilize mouse models, it was work in the mouse that led Dr. Klotman to understand how to process human samples to find the virus in the kidney. But why, one might ask, do we care about the kidney in HIV? Is not the major pathology seen in the immune system? This may be true, but it is increasingly recognized that reservoirs of virus exist in patients, even those where viral replication is suppressed, and it is these reservoirs that prevent complete disease eradication. Dr. Klotman believes that the kidney is one such reservoir, partly because many cells in the kidney have a long half-life and can play host to the virus for an extended period. If you missed Dr. Klotman's illuminating lecture, view it on APSA's YouTube.
The poster session is always well-attended by trainees and senior investigators, and 2014 was no exception. Nearly 250 posters, a record number, were presented by trainees and junior investigators from across the spectrum of the biomedical sciences. With all the fantastic science, the judges had quite the time choosing the best posters to recognize, but eventually five outstanding trainees were selected. Congratulations to Dipal Patel, Jung Park, Ryan Day, Samir Zaidi, and Alexandra Livanos on their awards! Next year, it might just be you accepting an award on the AM stage, so get your science ready for the 11th AM abstract deadline at the end of the year!
The third plenary session began with a bang, featuring Nobel Laureate Peter Agre, available for viewing on APSA's YouTube. Dr. Agre’s career is an inspiration to any physician-scientist trainee, including not only the first scientist to isolate the Rh blood group antigens but also the discovery of aquaporins, a feat which earned him a Nobel Prize in 2003. Dr. Agre shared the highlights of his career, focusing on the people with whom he had the privilege of interacting. These included not only trainees and fellow faculty but also villagers in rural Africa. He is a prominent advocate of issues affecting global health, currently leading the Malaria Institute at Johns Hopkins University. He stressed the significance of the people he worked with in his lab over the discoveries he had made, noting that it was the people who were everything in his career. Speaking directly to every APSA member in the audience, he closed by encouraging "all you young people, members of APSA: stick with it. You never know where your science will take you." Words to live by.
Following Peter Agre is no easy feat, but the next speaker was no scientific slouch: Anthony Atala, a pioneer in the field of regenerative medicine. He spoke of deriving inspiration and frustration from the case of a 1981 burn victim, where a small piece of skin was expanded and placed on the burn, helping to heal the wound but not becoming new skin. In the ensuing decades, he created the first implantable, lab-grown organ (a bladder in 2006) and has since announced early advances in printable organs and the creation of a lab-grown vagina. He discussed the nature of scaffolds and encouraging vascularization, both critical to grow replacements that have the function and anatomy of the body’s own organs.
Timothy Ley of Washington University School of Medicine spoke next on the genetics of acute myeloid leukemia, while APSA members decamped for one of two panel discussions, including one on Global Health featuring Shannon Galvin, Robert L. Murphy, and Olufunmilayo Olopade and moderated by past APSA Board of Directors Chair, Jaimo Ahn. The second, focusing on public outreach from physician-scientists, featured Bechara Choucair, Niranjan Karnik, and Claire Pomeroy, and was moderated by Shwayta Kukreti. The panelists’ discussion of public outreach echoed the ASCI Presidential Address of Peter Tontonoz. Dr. Karnik highlighted his role in applying lessons from child psychiatry to the treatment of children living in urban poverty. He was a vocal supporter of social media, as was Dr. Choucair, stressing its utility to reach his patient population directly and in an ongoing manner, not just once or twice a year at an office visit. Dr. Karnik urged trainees to be advocates for their own research, stating that talking to others about your work and engaging their interest is a way to obtain funding, something that happened to him on an airplane flight. Dr. Pomeroy echoed these sentiments, advising the audience to prepare your 2-minute elevator pitch and have different versions available for different audiences. Your voice is powerful and your stories are moving; it is up to you, she says, to share that inspiration with others. In a similar fashion, Dr. Choucair emphasized the importance of building a community and constituency for your work, as they can and will advocate for and with you. You can do more, he notes, with an army of supporters than you will ever do alone. Challenge insularity, push your comfort zone, and speak to people who are not traditional partners in your area of research. It is this crossing of fields and disciplines that drives innovation, a sentiment reinforced by Dr. Pomeroy. The entire panel discussion is available on APSA's YouTube; watch it today!
Back in the main ballroom, the combined meeting heard the AAP Presidential Address, delivered by J. Larry Jameson. Dr. Jameson made bold predictions for the future of science and medicine, listing a series of what he termed "disruptive forces" that would impact broad swaths of biomedical science. Many, he noted, were discussed by previous speakers during the meeting: molecular targeting of cancer, the microbiome, regenerative medicine, the influence of circadian rhythms, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and immune therapies. Disruption is disconcerting but, as Dr. Jameson stated, it breeds innovation, and to succeed everyone, from trainee to Professor Emeritus, must shape the future rather than be seized by it.
Capping the day of science was recognition of a prominent physician-scientist for contributions to mentoring, science, and medicine: the George M. Kober Medal of the AAP. This year, the award was presented to Elizabeth G. Nabel, current President of Brigham and Women's Hospital and former Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). Her award was presented by Eugene Braunwald, himself a giant in biomedical research. Dr. Braunwald spoke at length of Dr. Nabel’s leadership and stewardship of many prominent institutions as well as her many scientific accomplishments. He noted that she is only the third woman to receive the Kober medal since its inauguration in 1929, and commended her as an inspiring example of the potential of the physician-scientist.
APSA’s annual dinner following the scientific session featured a keynote address by prominent pediatric infectious diseases specialist and vaccinologist, Paul Offit, developer of the rotavirus vaccine and shining example of the physician-scientist as public advocate. Condensing 25 years of work into 25 minutes, he led the dinner guests through the problem of rotavirus, which kills over 500,000 children worldwide each year. Previous attempts to develop a rotavirus vaccine had ended in failure, including one vaccine which worked in Finland but nowhere else (as Finland is “the BALB/c mouse of human trials” and everything works there) and an efficacious vaccine that was associated with increased risk of intussusception. Many of the difficulties encountered would be familiar to any biomedical scientist, including the problem of extrapolating from animal to human (quoting vaccinologist David Weiner, Dr. Offit reminded us that "mice lie and monkeys exaggerate"). The final, successful vaccine, developed after a huge, multi-hundred million dollar trial, has provided the means to halt the rotavirus scourge. Thanks to Bill and Melinda Gates, it is available for a tiny fraction of its sticker price to developing countries. Dr. Offit exhorted the audience to remember to be advocates for science and to not let public discourse about your work and its consequences be shaped only by those who fear science and distrust the work and conclusions of researchers. If you missed him at the AM, check out his appearance on the Colbert Report, taped just a few days after his dinner lecture!
The final day of the 10th AM opened with meal and mentorship at the Interest Group and Mentorship Breakfast in the Moulin Rouge. Luminaries from the full spectrum of medical science were present, from surgery to pathology to a host of internal medicine subspecialties. It was easy to tell how much both mentors and trainees were enjoying this time, as it was difficult to get everyone out of the breakfast and up to the final scientific session. Hedvig Hricak, Chair of the Department of Radiology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, delivered the final address of the 10th AM (co-sponsored with the Radiological Society of North America, RSNA). Dr. Hricak spoke of the power of imaging in all its many forms and how advances in imaging are changing how physicians of all specialties approach medical challenges and care for their patients. Speaking directly to the many in the audience considering academic careers, Dr. Hricak extolled the virtues of an academic life, and reminded the audience that with an academic career come many responsibilities, including a duty to give back as a mentor and the challenge of always striving to advance your skills and "learn something every day".
Dr. Hricak’s lecture was followed by a series of panels. The 10th AM featured many more panels than previous AMs and included a variety of topics, from post-graduate opportunities to policy. The first two panels focused on the social sciences and humanities, featuring leaders in this side of medicine and medical research, and a discussion of post-graduate opportunities, moderated by APSA Director David Markovitz. The post-graduate opportunities panel featured advice and career stories from a distinguished panel consisting of William Kelley, Holly Humphrey, and Ralph Horwitz. Dr. Kelley, whose leadership has touched a host of current ASCI and AAP members, almost set out on a career as a private practitioner before pursuing the physician-scientist path. He gave encouragement to those students who see the name of their PI on their work, for while the PI takes credit today, this is how it should be, and someday you will receive the same support of those in your lab as your PI does today. As an administrator himself, he reminded aspiring administrators that personal success is not enough; one must take pride in seeing the people you oversee have success, and you may well need to give up your own scientific lab in order to help advance their careers. Dr. Humphrey, who is intimately involved with education as the Dean for Medical Education at the University of Chicago, added her voice to the chorus stressing the importance of effective mentorship, and she appreciated being able to be a mentor and supporter of her students today just as her mentors were supportive of her own career. Dr. Horwitz, a former academic who has transitioned to industry, noted the emphasis on team success in industry versus the singular PI in academics, but he also advised students looking to industry to take some time to run a lab and be an academic first. Those who succeed in industry, he noted, often have already had experience and success in running laboratories of their own in an academic institution.
The final two panels, discussing policy and the finer aspects of MSTP admissions for undergraduates, were an outstanding bookend to the meeting. The MSTP panelists didn’t let a high stage and theater-style seating stop them from getting to know the undergraduates in attendance, and they quickly rearranged seating so that panelists and audience were in a circle and could discuss the benefits and challenges of going from undergraduate studies to an MD/PhD program and take questions from students soon to embark on the harrowing medical school application process.
The policy panel, moderated by Policy Chair Jennifer Kwan, began with a discussion of the results of surveys APSA has undertaken in an effort to understand career choices of physician-scientist trainees. Look for the results from these surveys to be published in the near future. Panelist Martin Burke, an academic researcher who has mastered the art of taking research and moving it into production with industrial partners, discussed the importance of building strong teams to take a scientific advance and bring it to market and to clinical practice, noting that the pathway is bidirectional, and is not just the stereotypical bench to bedside. Larissa Lapteva, medical officer at FDA, spoke to the challenges and importance of drug development, emphasizing the many resources FDA has for researchers who hope to take a finding and turn it into a therapeutic. She stressed that FDA is a partner in this process, and that early communication with FDA will help your application down the line. Lex Van Der Ploeg, a prolific entrepreneur who has built many small companies around biomedical research, did not gloss over the high failure rate in biomedical science and the business of biomedical science. However, he reminded the audience that it is entrepreneurs and innovators working in the face of failure who can make real change. Entrepreneurs who are successful many times "dream the impossible and make it happen" but pair it with business savvy, something critical for the success of any small company.
The final event of the 10th AM, and one of its most highly-anticipated, was the Residency luncheon, featuring over 15 programs from a variety of disciplines. Nowhere else can physician-scientist trainees meet so many of the directors of the very training programs to which they will apply after medical and graduate school. The connections made and impressions formed here can propel a candidate to the forefront when application season comes around; it is hard to beat name recognition by a program director when that director is faced with a mountain of excellent applications.
The end of every AM is always bittersweet. It also means that we have to say goodbye to friends old and new, and conclude a schedule that includes some of the best scientific presentations seen anywhere. Fortunately, the next AM is just a year away. Start planning now, and see you in 2015.