New AAAAI President Highlights Meeting Highlights and Term Priorities

February 21, 2022

5 minute read

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David A. Khan, MD, FAAAAI, of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, will be installed as president of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology at its annual meeting Feb. 25-28 in Phoenix.

According to Khan, this year’s conference will unveil innovative research and launch new programs and opportunities for AAAAI and its members.

What’s going on in Phoenix

The meeting will begin under the theme “Asthma difficult to control”, which will be the subject of 20% of the more than 225 scheduled sessions.

“It’s an important topic because it’s an area that’s really seen an explosion of different therapies to manage these very difficult patients,” Khan told Healio.

David A. Khan

“It’s great that we now have more treatment options for these patients, but education is an area of ​​great need,” he continued. “We have assessed that our members are genuinely interested in learning more about this topic, and we are happy to provide information.”

COVID-19, which continues to dominate the headlines, is another hot topic based on the multiple abstracts and original studies that will be featured.

“As allergists, one of the things that we have faced and have faced is patients who have had immediate reactions to COVID-19 vaccinations and who have tried to figure out how we can get them vaccinated by safely and completely,” Khan said. “It’s a big area of ​​interest.”

AAAAI is also looking to the future, as Khan noted a session on “Preparing for the Next Pandemic: From Mechanisms to Vaccines,” which will highlight vaccine development, lessons learned, immunological strategies and more. .

Of course, there will be sessions on other areas of clinical care across a dozen tracks, including allergens, allergy testing and therapeutics, immune mechanisms, mast cell and eosinophilic disorders, and rhinosinusitis. and eye allergy.

“We have a session on mechanisms and approaches to anaphylaxis, which I think will be interesting,” Khan said. “We have another session called ‘An Ounce of Prevention’ to discuss not only some long-term results, but also more recent studies on how to prevent the development of food allergies.”

Outside of clinical courses, guest lecturer Hannah Valentine, MD, will discuss “The Importance of Diversity in Academia and Team Performance”. Valentine, who was the NIH’s first director for the diversity of the scientific workforce before retiring, will explore strategies for achieving an inclusive culture of excellence.

“It’s a very important topic in anything related to health care,” Khan said.

Other professional questions will be the subject of tracks dedicated to practices in allergy practices, research principles and training and career development. Additionally, networking events and trade shows will be available to foster future opportunities.

Qualified medical students and residents in internal medicine and pediatrics will also attend the meeting through the AAAAI’s Project Chrysalis, which allows these aspiring physicians to attend free of charge.

Attendees are paired with an allergy specialist during the event and learn about the pathogenesis and treatment of allergic and immunological disorders as well as cutting-edge research, in addition to career options in academia, private practice and industry.

“This is another successful ongoing project to improve recruitment in our specialty,” Khan said.

Priorities for his tenure

Beyond the conference, Khan said he wanted to tackle the issue of prior authorization for drugs such as biologics as the first of three priorities during his term as president.

“It continues to be a heavy burden not only for patients, but also for staff, practices and physicians,” he said. “Surveys have shown that it does contribute to burnout. So we’re looking at the things we can do to try to fix it from a specialist perspective.

Khan plans to develop a task force to examine the issue and include the issue in AAAAI’s virtual outreach to Congress.

“Patients with congenital diseases need these potentially life-saving therapies, and every year you have to prove that they still have this disease that is not going to go away on its own,” he said. “This is an area of ​​huge frustrations and delays in care that have a real impact on our patients.”

Next, Khan wants to launch a national program that would expose internal medicine and pediatric residents to the specialty to get them excited about potential careers in allergy and immunology and to let them know what allergists and immunologists do. Diversity would be another objective of the program.

“The curriculum we have in place in Texas covers the full range of different allergy and immunology topics,” Khan said. “We have received many positive comments and we hope to roll out a very similar program in different parts of the country. »

Third, Khan said he wanted to create a drug allergy research grant that would help young researchers get their careers off to a good start, as funding in these areas is somewhat limited.

“The hottest topic is penicillin allergy, and that’s because it’s the most common antibiotic people think they’re allergic to,” he said, adding that 90-95% of people who report a penicillin allergy can tolerate penicillin. .

“Wearing this label has many adverse health effects. If it is a fake label, it should be removed,” he said. “But the grant won’t necessarily be specifically for penicillin allergy.”

Additional AAAAI initiatives

AAAAI has also been busy outside of the meeting, Khan said, as he launched his third journal this month. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: Global is the first open access gold publication in the organization’s portfolio, including submissions from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America.

“We’re thrilled the inaugural issue is out,” Khan said.

Khan also cited the recent and extensive work of the AAAAI’s Vaccine and Medication Monitoring System in Pregnancy (VAMPSS).

“The program was started because expectant mothers were concerned about the impact asthma medication would have on them during their pregnancy, which could have obviously dangerous consequences for both mother and baby,” said Khan.

VAMPSS invites pregnant women to participate in interviews and provide birth outcome data, which Kn said is helpful in learning more about the safety of different drugs and vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines. .

“We are seeing many tragic losses of pregnant mothers and babies who have died from COVID-19 due to vaccine hesitancy,” he said. “So I think there’s a lot of important work here.”

AAAAI has also joined the American Medical Association’s Scope of Practice Partnership, which aims to prevent specialist scope expansion and ensure patient safety. AAAAI is also including its scope of practice concerns in its virtual outreach to Congress.

“Another thing is serving patients in underserved communities,” Khan continued, as the AAAAI plans meetings between its leaders and patient advocacy organizations.

“We will focus on how we can work effectively to meet the needs of our allergy and immunological patients in these underserved communities,” he said. “Many of us in the academy want to help our members help their patients.”

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