Clinical Heart and Vascular Center

Beyond the LBCTs: Two Other Highlights of Attending #AHA23

By Mark Drazner, M.D., M.Sc.

Professor of Internal Medicine
Clinical Chief of Cardiology

Attending the AHA Scientific Sessions in the fall is one of the pinnacles of the annual academic calendar cycle for me. A core purpose of such meetings is to learn about the latest medical advances and how I might apply them to my patients, now or in the coming years. However, in this article I’ve elected not to discuss those aspects, which are well covered in the adjoining pages by my colleagues, but rather focus on two other personal highlights from #AHA23.

The first was the impactful presence of UT Southwestern faculty, fellows, and other trainees at this year’s event. To begin, I must recount the pride I felt in watching my close colleague Amit Khera, M.D., M.Sc., skillfully lead the meeting in his role as Chair of the AHA Committee on Scientific Sessions Programming. His opening session video welcoming attendees to #AHA23 was informative and presented in a novel format, one sprinkled with humor that made it fun to be in the room where it happened. Next was the excitement I felt when two of our trainees, Reynaldo Sanchez, M.D. (Laennec Fellow in Training Clinician Award), and Glynnis Garry, M.D. (Melvin L. Marcus Early Career Investigator Award in Basic Cardiovascular Science), were recognized with prominent awards. Equally impressive was the large number of presentations from our current faculty and fellows – it felt like it was hard to wander into any session room and not see a UTSW-affiliated person on the podium. It also was extremely satisfying to see our former fellows in such roles; for example, Rohan Khera, M.D., joined James de Lemos, M.D., as faculty for an informative session about the promise and pitfalls of artificial intelligence in the clinic and lab.

“Besides the chance meetings that happen with former trainees and colleagues in the hallway, there were more structured interactions that left lasting impressions.”

Mark Drazner, M.D., M.Sc.

The second highlight of the meeting for me was the “secret sauce” of such events: the social interactions that never can be replicated by virtual meetings. Besides the chance meetings that happen with former trainees and colleagues in the hallway, there were more structured interactions that left lasting impressions. The first was an event that we at UTSW Cardiology call “Fellows Night Out.” This is a gathering we orchestrate every year at a local eatery one evening during the AHA or ACC annual meeting. All UTSW attendees are invited to join in, as are our former trainees and faculty. What started out as a small gathering years ago has now grown to be a large occasion eagerly awaited by those in the UTSW Cardiology family. The second type of social interactions that are memorable are the planned small-group dinners with professional colleagues and friends from around the country – a wonderful chance not only to hear what is going on at other prominent academic cardiology divisions but also to catch up on personal developments in their lives. Third was the Council on Clinical Cardiology dinner. Here gathered, as is typical for this event, were luminaries in the field of cardiology, many of whom were professional role models for me for their expertise in either clinical care, research, or education. Indeed, this year, one such role model, Patrick T. O’Gara, M.D., received the prestigious James B. Herrick Award for Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Cardiology and delivered a provocative and memorable lecture upon acceptance.

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