Victor J. Bernet, MD
Presented by Victor J. Bernet, MD
American Thyroid Association Annual Business Meeting
Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel
Denver, Colorado
Thursday, September 22, 2016

First, let me express my thanks to the ATA membership for the great privilege of electing me to serve as the ATA Secretary/COO. As John Morris promised, my first year in office has been busy, very busy. However, it also has been extremely rewarding and a great learning opportunity as well. The collegial nature of the ATA in combination with its loyal and active membership plus great office staff make my job as Secretary a rewarding one.

The society has been very active and productive over the last year and I will now share with you the membership a summary of those accomplishments. The ATA has continued to be very productive in the deployment/revision of thyroid disease related guidelines. The Thyroid Nodule and Differentiated Thyroid Cancer guidelines were released in the Fall 2015 and published in early 2016. The Hyperthyroidism Guidelines have been recently released with the updated Pregnancy and Thyroid guidelines soon to follow. Proceedings for the update of the Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer guidelines are underway as well. We very much appreciate the efforts of our guidelines chairs and committee members, this challenging work is extremely important to the ATA as a society and as it reflects on the stature of all the members.

With the guidelines being such a significant ATA product, impacting clinicians and patients alike, the ATA leadership has been identifying ways to improve their reach and impact. Vicki Cohn from Mary Ann Liebert, publishers, (MAL) produced and funded (pharma) a roundtable discussion about the Thyroid Nodule and DTC guidelines. A written summary of this event was sent to membership and the sponsor is utilizing copies for educational purposes. MAL pursued funding for a round table discussion for the Hyperthyroidism guidelines which is expected to be available by year end.

Official recognition by the National Guidelines Clearinghouse is dependent on the latest standards stemming from the IOM and the AHRQ.  Because the ATA leadership recognizes the importance of our guidelines being accessible to a wide audience, we have prioritized meeting these new standards. To facilitate use and adoption of ATA guidelines, summaries in a pocket card format have been developed by guideline central and may be ordered through the ATA website, and translation to other languages is being explored.  Development of a standardized guideline slide sets for ATA member use for presentations to providers outside of the ATA is being considered and patient renditions of ATA guidelines are planned to support education of the lay public. Finally, work is underway to turn the guidelines into a living documents which are regularly updated instead of scheduling updates every 4-5 years or so.

In additional to guidelines, we must note the publication efforts of the Surgical Affairs Committee who again have put out several statements this year and the Clinical Affairs Committee which has a statement forthcoming as well.  As you will see by their individual reports, all our committees continue to be active and fruitful. The Patient Affairs and Education Committee was relaunched last Fall with Regina Castro as Chair and includes two patient representatives. This committee has been extremely active in updating and expanding the educational offerings for our patients. For practical purposes, we have decided to have written, not verbal, reports by the committees at the annual business meeting this year. We hope this process allows for effective disbursement of committee activities while keeping the business meeting on time.  For future reference, we would appreciate feedback to see if this process met member’s needs or not.

The handling of industry relationships and potential conflict of interest (COI) issues has become a prominent issue within the field of medicine both for individuals and for associations such as ours. This year Tony Bianco led our effort to develop a policy which achieves transparency for ATA-industry relationships. This information is now published on the ATA website and will be updated annually. We hope such transparency will reassure those who have previously voiced concerns about potential industry influence on our society, that the ATA is independent of any undue financial influence by outside entities. In recent years, our guidelines and guideline members themselves have received severe criticism as some voiced concerns over what were felt to be at least perceived COI issues with guideline development. The ATA COI task force was launched during John Morris’ term as Secretary with Bob Smallridge as chair. Much work and consideration has been placed into the new proposed policy which has been developed. Due to its importance, the membership was given an opportunity to review and comment on the document prior to any final implementation and action by the BOD. The handling of COI related issues will be an ongoing effort into the future.

Our ATA journals are doing very well. Thyroid continues to grow under the leadership of Peter Kopp. There have been 479,000 full-text downloads from Thyroid this year to date which represents a rise in downloads and the most recent impact factor is 3.784. Clinical Thyroidology also continues to perform well under the steadfast leadership of Jerry Hershman. Our newest journal VideoEndocrinology is also moving forward under the watchful guidance of editor Jerry Doherty with 5,400 video views in 2016. Please consider submitting a video and realize that endocrine subjects outside of the field of thyroidology are acceptable. We are thrilled to announce that both Peter Kopp and Jerry Hershman have both agreed to extend their editorial duties. We continue to work with Vicki Cohn from MAL as active partners to identify additional products relevant to furthering ATA’s mission. With the bundling of our three journals, an increase in royalty payments has been noted. These funds help support the ATA in pursuit of other mission related goals.

Much thanks to our program committee and co-Chairs Peter Arvan and Stephanie Fish. The 86th meeting of the ATA in Denver promises to be a tremendous program with many great offerings for attendees. The number of regular and late breaking abstract submissions was notable, reaching 395 and 77, respectively. The Ridgway Trainee Conference will impact ~ 274 trainees and includes offerings for clinical and basic science trainees as well as a surgical track. In an effort to raise long term funding for the trainees’ track, a special development activity in honor of Chip and those who have contributed to the E. Chester Ridgway Legacy Fund is being held. Please consider donating to this worthwhile cause. I believe many of us were either positively impacted by Chip directly or through the trainees’ course.

For an organization to prosper, one needs to reassess goals and priorities while considering future needs and developments. To that end, the ATA Strategic Conference was held in June 2016. The group which participated include a diverse variety of ATA members and leaders. The effort was facilitated by Frances Baldwin from the NTL Institute and concentrated our efforts on the following four areas:

  1. Sustaining global leadership in the field of thyroidology
  2. Being the preferred educational resource for patients with thyroid disorders
  3. Enhance/increase support for research within the field of thyroidology
  4. Development efforts to fund ATA missions and goals

The group spent time giving serious consideration to the above four goals. Many great ideas were generated and ATA leadership is in the process of reviewing and prioritizing the recommendations into a cohesive plan of action for the next several years. We expect the process to lead to some exciting and novel endeavors that will harness both the intellect and energy of our membership

Collaboration with our sister societies continues, ATA representation on upcoming ACR thyroid imaging guidelines has been invited; and, a four society conference related to thyroid cancer management which would include the ATA, the European Association of Nuclear Medicine, the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging and the European Thyroid Association is being discussed. We continue to be an active partner and organizer of the MTC Registry as well. Strategic plans may include outreach to societies such as the ACP, ACOG and others whose members provide thyroid related care.

Over the years, the ATA has been approached about the endorsement of various educational programs and other products. It was decided that a formal endorsements policy was needed and so one was developed and deployed earlier this year. The specifics of this policy are published on the ATA website. The first endorsement yielded by this policy was awarded to the Thyroid Cancer Care Cooperative and their application of the 2015 ATA Thyroid Nodule and DTC guidelines within their program.

Leadership changes occur with our annual meeting each year. I would like to acknowledge the faithful service and contributions of Jim Hennessey and Susan Sherman who complete their Board of Directors terms this year. Tony Bianco, our President, also provided me with much encouragement and advice this year. Additionally, it is appropriate to acknowledge Bob Smallridge, my close colleague, who fulfills his term as past-president. Having Bob’s office next to mine in Jacksonville has been a great source of real time support. Furthermore, I would like to thank the Treasurer-elect task force. We are happy to report that there were several great candidates for this position. We welcome Julie Ann Sosa to the leadership team and know David Sarne is glad to have his successor identified (yes, Dave there is a light at the end of the tunnel). We are sure David will get Julie Ann up to speed over this next year. Additionally, our present field of candidates should be acknowledged for allowing themselves to be considered for the positions of President and Board of Directors, respectively. In addition, I look forward to serving with our new President John Morris and must note that having John continue on the BODs has been very helpful. He provided great insight on questions that arose in this my first year as Secretary while always providing me the space to grow into the position. Finally, I thank Bobbi Smith for being our Executive Director “Extraordinaire.” Bobbi keeps myself and ATA leadership on track, is a sagacious source of advice and based on member comments generally beloved. She leads a wonderful staff including Adonia Coates (Director of Meetings and Program Service), Sharleene Cano (Director of Publications and Membership), Kelly Hoff (Director of Technology and Development), Josette Paige (Meetings and Finance Manager) and our newest member Danielle Waldman (Membership and Development Specialist).

As we look towards the upcoming year, I see many opportunities for the ATA to grow and ensure that we not only meet but exceed the needs of our membership and the patients we serve. I again thank you for your support and encourage you to approach myself or anyone within ATA leadership on ideas on how to improve the ATA, stay true to our mission and meet our goals for 2017.

Victor J. Bernet, MD
Secretary/Chief Operating Officer