Jean Pickford's Trip to the AAD Annual Meeting

Date: 03/18/2013

Each year for the past thirteen years, I have been traveling to the annual American Academy of Dermatology convention. Having just returned from the latest convention in Miami Beach last week, I want to take the time to share the importance of this annual event and how FIRST and ichthyosis is represented.

The AAD convention is attended by over 17,000 people. The audience consists of dermatologists, pharmaceutical executives, other healthcare professionals and patient advocacy representatives. Lectures, symposiums, classes, and meetings are held for four days primarily for clinicians and scientists to showcase their work, educate attendees on the latest medical advances, and for dermatologists to earn Continuing Medical Education credits.  Dr. Keith Choate and Dr. Amy Paller each gave lectures at the meeting and credited FIRST for contributing to their excellent work.

Every Saturday morning during the weekend convention, the Medical & Scientific Advisory Board (MSAB) meets at 7 am. It is always so impressive to see this group of smart and dedicated physicians arrive at such an early hour to learn about activities at FIRST and to discuss ichthyosis. We always have a packed house. This year, I presented a 17-slide presentation outlining FIRST’s growth and upcoming events. This was followed by reports from Brittany Craiglow about the Yale Gene Discovery Program, Dr. Amy Paller about the Pedra Program at the NIH, and Dr. Phil Fleckman about the Ichthyosis Registry. 

After all the reports and discussion, the meeting ends with the opportunity for physicians to present interesting and/or difficult ichthyosis cases. At this point, I just sit back, listen, and watch the amazing discussion, suggestions, and thought processes unfold as the group analyzes each case. It truly is remarkable to see the genuine care and concern for each of these patients.

In addition to lots of meetings at the AAD convention, the exhibit hall houses booths from hundreds of pharmaceutical and device companies. These companies are there to showcase their line of products and/or feature a new item in their arsenal of goods. In between meetings, I spend my time walking up and down the aisles thanking the companies who have supported FIRST and meeting new companies who have products that may be beneficial to patients with ichthyosis.

The AAD provides a free booth in the exhibit hall to the Coalition of Skin Diseases, of which FIRST is a member. As dermatologists walk through the hall, they have an opportunity to stop by our booth and pick up a “one-stop-shop” brochure, which contains contact information for each patient advocacy group. This helps the dermatologist be a better physician for their patients as they can provide resources and help for their affected patients.

The weekend convention wraps up for me with a two-hour meeting with my colleagues from the Coalition of Skin Diseases. Representatives from each member group attend the meeting to collaborate on how we can further our efforts as one collective voice representing patients with skin disorders. This meeting also provides a lot of networking as we share ideas and learn from each other.