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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Reflections on the 36th ISHLT Annual Meeting & Scientific Sessions, Washington DC 2016

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Allan Glanville, MBBS, MD, FRACP
St. Vincent's Hospital
Sydney, Australia

Meaningful reflections on past events usually demand a considerable passage of time to allow impressions and thoughts to be balanced. However, these reflections are provided almost immediately following the 36th Annual Meeting due to the tight timelines required by the LINKS Task Master, Vincent Valentine. Although some may demur, perhaps it is better done quickly than not done at all!

Let us start with the extraordinary increase in registered delegates to the meeting, which for the first time ever threatened the 4000 mark. The increase was evidenced across a number of disciplines. Quite simply, if you did not take your seat prior to a session, there was often standing room only which serves to emphasise just how interested delegates were in the scientific sessions. It is a far cry from some meetings of the past (Paris comes to mind)! It also illustrates a maturation not only of program committee skills in crafting such an exciting program but the membership in general who now appreciate fully the opportunity of sharing their work amongst peers and contributing to each session with insightful scientific exchange.

Throughout the meeting and at every stage, the imprint of the ISHLT Strategic Plan which had been developed through consultation and external coordination was evident. A blue print has been devised for the introduction of the Strategic Plan at every phase of ISHLT activities so that as we move towards being a larger and more effective organisation, we operate under better business principles. This is not only to be desired but is necessary particularly in a predominantly volunteer organisation. Perhaps for the first time, specific roles have been delineated and written down and contracts agreed between major players in the organisation. Of course, this has been largely driven by the Board, the outgoing President in particular and a select Executive Council that has worked closely with external Consultants to craft the road ahead. Short term goals and initiatives have been set with medium term plans agreed. It is both the challenge and responsibility of the membership to embrace these goals and to make them a working reality.

Working quietly behind this plan has been the wise counsel of the past President's Council, whose body of experience has informed a number of the critical decisions. Once humorously described as "The Dead President's Society", the past Presidents are now reinvigorated as a potent force within the ISHLT to assist in the development of the way ahead. To borrow from Marshall McLuhan, one might say that "this is marching backwards into the future looking in a rear vision mirror" but it is exactly the opposite in effect. The past Presidents who have such loyalty and experience in the Society are committed as a group to the survival and health of the Society and are a rich source of opinion which can only benefit future planning.

Similarly, in the Pulmonary Council, the Washington meeting saw the first meeting of "The Old Hangers-On Club" i.e. the past Pulmonary Council Presidents who under the direction of John Orens met for lunch to discuss pertinent issues and while not all could be in attendance, the group of Orens, Corris, Hertz, Glanville and Garrity as an adhoc member commenced a dialogue which no doubt will be continued in future meetings.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Junior Faculty Council Mentorship Lunch once again proved a most remarkable initiative in which a large number of Senior Faculty were able to share their considered thoughts regarding how best to serve the Society and work in a meaningful partnership between mentor and mentee to develop productive career structures. It was clear that the Senior Faculty were open and available and willing to assist. That is only right given that the future of the society lies in the hands of our junior members. In the wise words of our ancestors "we are but custodians of the earth" and so are we, of the Society.

Two other aspects of the meeting spring to mind. First, the ongoing success of the Journal under the leadership of Mandeep Mehra who, incidentally, spoke so eloquently in the President's Debate expressing some of the frustrations that many of us have shared over the years, and the emergence of the I2C2 as a potent force within the Society.

The Journal goes from strength to strength, continues to adapt to a changing electronic environment and now is recognised as the premier journal in transplantation. This is a major step forward for the Society and emphasises the strong work done by so many people over a number of years. It is a just reward.

The I2C2 under leadership and vision of Dr Lori West had a difficult conception (IVF comes to mind!), was beset by first trimester morning sickness and required an assisted delivery but has now produced a healthy neonate. With each initiative the Society is becoming more "I" and now embraces the world, educates broadly and demonstrates respect for local practices and cultures. In fact, through the success of the I2C2, we make the world a smaller place and learn that we have more commonalities than differences with our international colleagues.

Finally, for such an exciting and busy meeting, it is at the same time humbling for many of us to see the exponential growth of knowledge in specialised areas, the eloquence of presentations, the commitment of individuals and the feedback from the International Colleagues.

As a parting question, ask yourself, is there any meeting that you attend where you are more excited, more challenged, more involved, more engaged or more committed to attend next year and the year after?

See you in San Diego, 2017!!! ■

Disclosure Statement: The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose.

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