Stay Classy San Diego

In 4 days I’ll be flying out to San Diego to the American Thoracic Society Conference. I’ve not been to the ATS since 2006. I’ve not been to American since then either. The ATS used to be the big meeting. It used to be THE meeting to go to, to be seen at, and to learn at. But the tide seems to have turned – the ATS continues to get smaller and smaller, compact and bijou, perhaps, but certainly smaller. The ERS, however, gets bigger, and bigger: it was too big to get around in Barcelona, certainly too big for @ThoraxBMJ to find a reliable wi-fi signal to keep posting updates.

I’m intrigued to find out what the ATS has become. I’m told by others that the meeting has a more basic science focus, but it also continues to include more intensive care medicine, as well as respiratory medicine, such is the remit of the US pulmonologist. The ATS charges for poster submissions, which leads to an interesting mix of posters – I’ll keep an open mind!

Should we still be going to conferences in wildly different time zones? To get to San Diego I have to drive 60 miles to Edinburgh Airport, fly to Birmingham (Leadership Conference), train to London, fly to LA, car to San Diego. If there’s 10,000 people at this conference, how many air miles are earned, or used? @DundeePublicHealth told me the other day that the carbon footprint of Addenbrookes Hospital is the same as Kings Lynn. What’s the carbon footprint of the ATS, including getting there, in the new SI unit, The Addenbrookes Day?

There’s the usual evening symposia going on – I’m even chairing one of them. I know there’s going to be news about new licences for old drugs, phase 2 data on new drugs, and some ‘promising data’ on new indications for old drugs. There’ll be competition for my bum on a seat throughout the week, I’m sure. Asthma and COPD seem to tee’d up to dominate the symposia – I’m hoping there’ll be a little more on the infection side, but I’m not holding my breath.

“Conferences are more about networking” people say. I hope to meet up with some old friends and colleagues, and the Thorax Editorial Board will be a feast of statistics batted between colleagues, and a highlight of the week.

The ATS, though, is all about the Annual 5K race, held at daft o’clock on Sunday morning, so it’s not too hot when we all set off. If memory serves the course in 2006 was around the marina behind the conference centre, and I was a laughable mess having just cycled from LA to San Diego two days previously. This year I doubt I’ll trouble the podium, but look out on Strava for my run data…

<Edit – it turns out there's a 4 mile run this year, the 28th Annual Navy Bridge Run>

4 days to go – look on Facebook and Twitter for updates live from the conference. There’s no official hashtag that I can find on the site, so I’ll stick with #ATS2014 if you want to keep up with things – I’ll try to encourage others to use the same.

And once we’re all back from the ATS, we’ll be thinking about the Summer BTS, which surely must have a smaller Addenbrookes number?

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