The new AAAAI President focuses on session highlights and tenure priorities

February 21, 2022

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David A Khan, MD, FAAAAI, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, will be named President of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology during its annual meeting February 25-28 in Phoenix.

According to Khan, this year’s conference will showcase innovative research and usher in new programs and opportunities for the AAAAI and its membership.

What’s going on in Phoenix

The meeting will begin with the theme ‘Difficult-to-Control Asthma’, which will be the subject of 20% of the more than 225 sessions planned.

“This is an important topic because it’s an area that has really seen an explosion of different therapeutics to treat these very challenging 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 found that our members are genuinely interested in learning more about this topic and we look forward to providing information.”

COVID-19, which continues to dominate the headlines, is another hot topic based on the numerous abstracts and original studies presented.

“As allergists, one of the things we’ve faced is patients who have responded immediately to COVID-19 vaccines and we’ve been trying to figure out how to get them safely and fully vaccinated,” Khan said. “It’s a big area of ​​interest.”

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

Of course, there will be sessions on other areas of clinical care in 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 the mechanisms and approaches to anaphylaxis that I think will be interesting,” Khan said. “We have another session entitled ‘An Ounce of Prevention’ to discuss not only some long-term results but also some recent studies on how to prevent the development of food allergies.”

Outside of clinical classes, keynote speaker Hannah Valentin, MD, will discuss “The Importance of Diversity in Science and Team Performance”. Valentine, who was the first NIH chief officer for the diversity of the scientific workforce before retiring, will explore strategies to achieve a culture of inclusive excellence.

“This is a very important issue in the entire healthcare system,” Khan said.

Other professional topics will be the focus of tracks devoted to allergy practice practice, research principles, and training and career development. Also, networking events and lounges will be available to encourage future opportunities.

Qualified medical students and residents in internal medicine and pediatrics will also attend the meeting through AAAAI’s Chrysalis Project, allowing these aspiring physicians to attend at no cost.

During the event, participants will be paired with an allergy sufferer and learn about the pathogenesis and treatment of allergic and immunological diseases as well as cutting-edge research and career opportunities in academia, private practice and industry.

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

priorities for his term

Beyond the conference, Khan said he wants to address the issue of pre-approval for drugs like biologics as the first of three priorities for his tenure as president.

“It continues to be a huge burden, not only for patients but also for staff, offices and doctors,” he said. “Surveys have shown that it actually contributes to burnout. So we’re looking at things we can do to try and approach it from a specific perspective.”

Khan plans to create a task force to investigate the issue and include the issue in AAAAI’s virtual advocacy 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 doesn’t go away spontaneously,” he said. “This is an area of ​​great frustration and delays in care that is really impacting our patients.”

Next, Khan wants to start a national program that would familiarize internal medicine and pediatric residents with the field, to get them excited about potential careers in allergy and immunology and what allergists and immunologists do. Diversity would be another goal of the program.

“The program that we ran in Texas covers the breadth of different allergy and immunology issues,” Khan said. “We’ve had a lot of great feedback and we hope to roll out a very similar program in different regions of the country.”

Third, Khan said he wants to create a drug allergy research grant that would give early-stage researchers a good start in their careers, as funding in these areas is somewhat limited.

“The hottest topic has been how to deal with penicillin allergy, and that’s because it’s the most common antibiotic that people think they’re allergic to,” he said, adding that 90 to 95% of people who have a penicillin allergy report actually tolerated penicillin .

“Carrying around this label has many adverse health consequences. If it’s a false label, it should be removed,” he said. “But the grant will not necessarily be specifically for penicillin allergy.”

Additional AAAAI Initiatives

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

“We are pleased that the inaugural edition is out,” said Khan.

Khan also cited the extensive recent work of the AAAAI’s Vaccines and Medications in Pregnancy Surveillance System (VAMPSS).

“The program was started because pregnant mothers were concerned about the effects of asthma medication on them during pregnancy, which could lead to obviously dangerous consequences for both mother and baby,” Khan said.

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

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

AAAAI has also joined the American Medical Association’s Scope of Practice Partnership, which aims to prevent expansion into the practice of specialists and ensure patient safety. AAAAI also brings its concerns about the scope of the practice to its virtual advocacy to Congress.

“Serving patients in underserved communities is another thing,” Khan continued, as the AAAAI schedules meetings between its leadership and patient organizations.

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

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