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ISHLT Academy: Core Competencies in Basic Science and Translational Research: Bringing Us Together

Tereza Martinu and Esmé Dijke
BSTR Academy Co-chairs


It was a challenge: developing a program for an Academy that provided a review of basic and translational research in the field of both heart and lung transplantation. And all of that in only one day ... one l.o.n.g Academy day. The planning involved many conference calls, discussions, brainstorm meetings, a survey to ask for the opinion of the ISHLT membership, and a few bottles of wine ... but there it was: the first Core Competencies Curriculum and Academy in Basic Science and Translational Research!

The ISHLT Basic Science and Translational Research Academy took place on April 9th, 2014. The goals of this activity were 1) to provide a concise review of basic concepts in transplant-related immunology and molecular biology, 2) to define and promote the clinical relevance of basic science and translational research related to heart and lung transplantation and, last but not least, 3) to encourage the interaction between basic scientists, translational researchers and clinicians. Simply said: we wanted to create a lot of 'aha' and 'eureka' moments and remove the language barrier between researchers and clinicians. Because—let's be honest—whether you are a basic scientist or a clinician, we all have looked at the other with the thought, "what on earth is this person talking about?!"

The list of speakers was a nice blend of junior and senior presenters and included basic scientists, translational researchers and clinicians in the field of both heart and lung transplantation. The content of the Academy covered overviews of the basic mechanisms of ischemia reperfusion injury, acute cellular rejection, antibody-mediated rejection and chronic rejection, followed by specific considerations for heart and lung transplantation. Members of the Junior Faculty and Trainee Council presented clinical vignettes on these topics. There were additional lectures about pharmacology and molecular biology. All lectures were excellent and instrumental in providing a broad and balanced view of the basic and translational science behind heart and lung transplantation.

This is the first year that the "best educational presentation award" was given out for each academy. The winner of the BSTR Academy was chosen based on the following criteria: 1) voted for by the majority of participants using the audience response system, 2) submitted slides on time prior to the academy, and 3) satisfied all criteria that have been determined by the ISHLT Education Committee to define a high quality educational presentation. It is our pleasure to announce the winner of the "best educational presentation award" for the BSTR academy: Dr. Michael Shullo, who presented an outstanding lecture about "Antidotes for Alloimmunity - Principles of T cell-Directed Therapies."

Another 'first' was the introduction of brain breaks. We all know that no matter how great the presentations are, after a while our brain tends to stop absorbing information. The attention span of an audience drops dramatically as presentations progress (H.R. Mills, Techniques of Technical Training, 1977). Brain breaks are simple 1-2 minute mind and body challenges which activate the brain and help regain focus. Brain breaks at the Academy included activities of snapping fingers while blinking, waving both arms in opposite directions, and the Mexican Wave (thanks to Chris Wigfield for this great suggestion!). The breaks did not only energize the group of participants, but were also a nice refresher for the chairs: it was absolutely hilarious to see ISHLT members doing these exercises all in harmony.

The last part of the Academy focused on research priorities in basic and translational research in heart and lung transplantation and failure. As some of you may remember, we had previously administered a survey on this topic to the ISHLT membership. We presented the priorities that emerged from this survey to attendees at the Academy and allowed everyone to rank them using the audience response system. Priorities that emerged from this activity included chronic rejection, artificial organs and mechanical circulatory support, organ regeneration/engineering, and biomarkers. Importantly, we learned that the priorities in the view of clinicians and researchers are actually quite aligned. So even though it sometimes feels like basic scientists and clinicians speak a different language, they actually seem to say the same thing just with different words.

Developing an Academy that assists clinicians in improving their understanding of the scientific background behind clinical practice, updates researchers on recent discoveries in the field of heart and lung transplantation, and encourages interaction between scientists and clinicians seemed at first like "mission impossible". We were pleased that it all happened. The BSTR Academy brought ISHLT members together to learn from each other and brainstorm about future priorities for growth and advancement of the field.

We would like to end with two quotes:

"To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others." - Tony Robbins

"Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I might remember. Involve me and I will understand." - Benjamin Franklin

Disclosure Statement: the authors have no financial disclosures and no conflicts of interested related to this article.




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