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NewsLasting Connections at ATS 2024

Jul 9, 2024

HLI students, staff, and Dr. Delbert Dorscheid at ATS 2024

The annual American Thoracic Society (ATS) International Conference made its return in May, where 14,000 physicians and scientists across disciplines gathered to discuss their experiences, challenges, and research in understanding pulmonary disease, critical illness, and sleep disorders. This year, the ATS International Conference was held in sunny San Diego from May 17-22, with over 20 HLI members in attendance helping to bring home the following awards:

Dr. James Hogg was awarded the Solbert Permutt Trailblazer Award in Pulmonary Physiology and Medicine, given to an established investigator who has performed pioneering research in the area of respiratory structure and function and has guided and inspired others in the field.

Dr. Chris Ryerson was awarded the Assembly on Clinical Problems Annual Mentoring Award, given in recognition of outstanding contributions to mentoring, training, and guidance of junior pulmonary/critical care medicine individuals and/or colleagues in research, or clinical care.

Fatemeh Aminazadeh and Clarus Leung won Assembly on Respiratory Structure and Function Abstract Scholarships, awarded to trainees based on the quality of abstracts submitted as reviewed by the Assembly Program Committees.

Firoozeh Gerayeli finished as Second Runner Up in the Canadian Thoracic Society Research Poster Competition for the James C. Hogg Basic Research Award, which recognizes excellence in respiratory research and showcases the contributions of up and coming Canadian researchers.

Gillian Goobie, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Tillie Hackett’s lab, is no stranger to the ATS International Conference, having attended it 9 years running.

“ATS has always presented a fantastic opportunity for learning and connecting with colleagues and friends from all around the world,” she says.

An attending Respirologist and Clinical Assistant Professor in the Division of Respiratory Medicine at UBC, she finds value in spending time with people from both the interstitial lung disease and environmental health spheres, citing the conference as the perfect place to make new connections, establish collaborations, and catch up with friends.

“It’s also one of the best venues to showcase your research to a wide audience.”

When asked if she would recommend the conference to new trainees, Gillian’s answer was a definitive YES: “I would also strongly advise getting involved in different opportunities provided by ATS including Early Career groups, participating in Assembly Meetings, and applying for apprenticeship positions within your Assembly.”

On the other hand, it was Fatemeh Aminazadeh’s first time attending the conference. A PhD student also in Dr. Hackett’s lab, her research explores the mechanisms that contribute to women’s susceptibility to developing severe early-onset COPD, highlighting systemic changes needed to address the biases against women that exist even prior to diagnosis.

“Presenting my research at ATS through poster discussions gave me helpful feedback on my research and new ideas for improving my project,” she says.

Like Gillian, she finds human connection to be one of the most valuable aspects of the ATS International Conference.

“It helped me connect with professionals in both industry and academia, which has been crucial for my career growth. Attending ATS was an extremely valuable experience that I highly recommend to future trainees.”

And of course, the trip helped everyone who attended create memories that will last a lifetime (or until next year’s iteration in San Francisco!)

(From left to right) Firoozeh Gerayeli, Clarus Leung, Cassie Gilchrist, Aileen Hsieh, Kauna Usman, Gurpreet Singhera, Fatemeh Aminazadeh