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Journey's End

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stuart sweetAs I write this article, the final details for the Prague meeting are coming into place—last minute changes in presenters and program chairs and dotting the necessary I's and T's to remain compliant with ACCME policy. I'm also reflecting on the amazing and fulfilling journey that started two years ago in the weeks preceding the Chicago meeting when Lori West asked me to be Program Chair during her presidency.

Actually the seeds of the journey were sown long before then when I participated in Program Committee meetings in 2005 and 2006. During that time, I watched—and learned from—John Dark and Duane Davis, and realized that putting together an ISHLT Program requires diplomacy and creativity in order to balance the needs of a society with a diverse set of interests. During the year between the Chicago meeting and San Diego, I was able to watch closely as Robin Pierson and John Dark took on the daunting task of changing the program development process from a single fall Program Committee meeting to a summer meeting where the invited content is developed and a second "virtual" program committee meeting where the abstract content is finalized. I benefitted greatly from this important change that allows the abstract deadline to better compete with other major societies holding spring meetings. Thanks to John and Robin for their leadership in this important process.

My first major responsibility was putting the program committee together. Starting in the fall of 2010, we identified returning members, selected members from the Council nominees, and filled the remaining slots to achieve geographical and experience balance. One of the most gratifying aspects of this process has been working with people who have not previously held leadership roles in the society and seeing them take advantage of the opportunity to rise to the occasion (and thus will likely get more opportunities to do so in the future!).

After a wonderful 31st Annual meeting in San Diego, our work began in earnest. The Program Committee chose from the best of 140 proposals submitted by ISHLT members and, culminating in a July weekend meeting in Montreal, put together the plenary lectures and symposia. The most rewarding part of that process was seeing members representing our diverse constituencies work together to develop collaborative symposia.

In December, the Committee selected the best from a record number of abstracts—more than 1300—and completed the remainder of the program. I appreciate Committee and abstract reviewers taking time during the holiday season to work on this important process. We again took an opportunity to bridge constituencies (i.e. oral sessions with basic science and clinical medicine or adult and pediatric medicine).

Finally, I can't emphasize enough how important the ISHLT staff were to this process. What I will miss most after Prague is working closely with Amanda, Lisa, Susie, Phyllis and Lee Ann—a truly amazing group of professionals. Many thanks to each of them for making my job so enjoyable.

I have been honored to serve as your Program Chair this year and look forward to seeing everyone in Prague!

Stuart Sweet