Meeting Perspectives: 2007 American Thoracic Society International Conference

June 5, 2007

Commentary by Doreen Addrizzo-Harris MD, Associate Professor, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine

The 2007 American Thoracic Society (ATS) meeting took place between May18-23 in San Francisco, California at the Moscone Conference center.  There were more than 400 sessions, 800 speakers and 5,500 original research abstracts.  The meeting is concentrated in the areas of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine.

The NYU Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care medicine, under the direction of Dr. William N. Rom, presented more than 30 original research abstracts and symposium in areas such as tuberculosis, asthma, lung cancer, WTC exposure, sleep medicine, interventional bronchoscopy and sepsis to name a few.  Fellow Pablo Herscovici, under the mentorship of Dr. David Steiger, was one of 14 chosen to present a case report at the fellow’s forum titled “Follicular Bronchiolitis in a Patient With Behcet;s Disease.”

Several faculty chaired symposium – Dr. David Rapoport- “Pathophysiology of Obstructive Sleep Apnea”; Dr. Joan Reibman – ” Upper respiratory Tract Disorders after the WTC collapse”; Dr. William Rom – ” Air Pollution: From Science to Policy;” and Dr. David Ost – ” Practical Interventional Pulmonology” and “Healthcare Associated Pneumonia Update.”

Dr. Doreen Addrizzo-Harris, president of the Association of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Program Directors, and member of the ATS training committee, chaired the annual business meeting with updates on the new web-based pulmonary/ critical care medicine in-service exam which began his year.  The ATS will now allow free membership for fellows in their first year of training.  They have also made available on the ATS website ( an extensive ATS reading list on important publications in pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine.

Some highlights of the meeting included a presentation by Dr. David Schwartz, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, at a town hall meeting on changes in grant funding from the NIH and NIEHS.  More flexibility in grant funding and more assistance with regulatory barriers are planned for change. A scientific symposium chaired by Dr. Talmadge King addressed the difficult clinical situation of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and when to treat these patients.  A new NIH sponsored trial will evaluation the role of treatment in this group with a randomized control trial of three groups of patients; those being treated with prednisone, azathioprine and N-acetylcystine; those on N-acetylcystine alone and those on placebo.  The results of this trial are extremely important in the treatment of patient with IPF as there has been no significant reduction in mortality with any current therapy except for lung transplant.

A popular session on lung cancer chaired by Dr. Charles Powell from Columbia University and Dr. James Jett from Mayo Clinic highlighted the difficulties of following patients with pulmonary nodules detected on CT.  More than 99% of nodules detected that were less than 7mm in size were determined to be benign over time.  As nodule size increased the concern for malignancy increased as well.  Complex nodules, those with both solid and ground glass features, were the most likely nodules to be malignant with evidence of invasive adenocarcinoma.  Multiple genetic markers may play a key role in determining which carcinomas will progress and respond to treatment.

The 2008 ATS will take place in Toronto, Canada next year.