January President's Page

January 04, 2022

January President's Page

James R. DeVoll, M.D., M.P.H.

Welcome to a new year! Hard to believe it is already 2022. With the new year come hopes and expectations for all things good and great. I’m not a believer in signs or symbols or numerology, but I do note that 2022 is MMXXII in Roman numerals. Double figures, so to speak. The new millennium year of 2000 was MM, 2002 was MMII, and in 200 years we’ll have MMCCXXII. But given all the viral and geopolitical issues of the recent past, if this might potentially portend good and better things to come, I’m willing to take it. Besides, MMXXII looks way cooler than 2022.
   At the time of this writing, we have just completed the midyear November meeting for AsMA Council. We resumed the in-person meeting format in Alexandria, VA, supplemented by virtual participation. Despite the advances in virtual meeting platforms and experience with their use, combination in-person/virtual meetings remain an area of flux where we are still in the learning phase. Even during the Council meeting, we had to make changes on-the-fly to meet some minor unanticipated issues. However, the combined format was successful,  especially since virtual participation allowed many members of Council to participate without the added burden of travel or COVID-related barriers to travel.
   I’d like to highlight some important items from the Council meeting:

  • Denver Scientific Meeting: we had 942 registrants, a very encouraging number since it represented about 2/3s of the usual meeting attendance (1400–1600).
  • Finance: we have continued to remain comfortably solvent in thanks to our financial reserves to cover 2021 operating expenses and funds from the Payroll Protection Plan. The Denver meeting generated positive revenues as hoped for. It appears we are “back in the black.”
  • Council favorably reviewed some proposed changes to the wording of our by-laws that will further untether AsMA from the Annual Scientific meeting to allow consideration of business and organizational issues without having to wait until May of each year. The changes will also support more flexibility in supplementing our annual scientific program with additional offerings.
  • Membership numbers remained stable from 2020 overall.
  • AsMA is working with the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine Society and the Mission Next Foundation for a webinar to review management of the COVID-19 pandemic and a focus on future management of airborne viruses. Look for it.
  • A majority of AsMA’s constituent organizations are now allowing AsMA to manage their membership rosters using AsMA’s membership data system, Impexium. This move will streamline updating information across our organizations and simplify dues payments. (Note: traditionally dues for constituents are collected during the Annual Scientific Meeting at tables manned by constituent members, a laborious and time-consuming process.) I am hoping that by this time next year all constituents will be taking advantage of this offering.
  • The Council received updated information from a new affiliated organization, the Aerospace Toxicology Association Group (AsTAG). This represents an important new direction for the future of Aerospace Medicine, providing a forum for discussion and review of toxicology issues which will be of higher concern with longer duration spaceflight.
   We also completed the Scientific Program Committee meeting on November 18 to review abstracts for the 92nd Annual Scientific Meeting in Reno in May. In a typical year, 6 months separate the Annual Scientific Meeting and the November 1st due date for abstract submissions. This year, the Denver meeting in late August occurred after the August 1st opening of the abstract submission online website, leaving only 2 months for submissions before the deadline. It was unclear if this schedule change might somehow inhibit or depress the number of submissions. It was a pleasant reaffirmation to find that we had 511 submissions, which was within the usual range for numbers of submissions. Submissions were reviewed by a combination of virtual remote reviews (for individual abstracts) and onsite, in person reviews (for multi-abstract panels). My impression was that the overall quality of submissions was strong as usual.
   Reno 2022: our meeting will be held jointly with the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS). A reunion of sorts, since the last time the two organizations shared a meeting was in 1998 in Seattle. To accommodate UHMS, we will be adding a 7th track for presentations that are more UHMS-specific, as well as sharing time for our plenary sessions. For the last several years, AsMA has partnered with UHMS for management of CME accreditation, so we have a strong basis for a combined meeting mutually beneficial for both organizations.
   I will end with a pitch for registration for the May meeting in Reno, which opens in early January. Once again, we will offer Early Bird registration incentives for self-funded individuals and will continue to offer special registration rates for students, Allied Members, and others. As usual, if you want to participate in workshops, luncheons or other events, the only way to guarantee a “seat at the table” is to pre-register.
   Happy MMXXII.

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