Report of the Secretary
Presented by Martin I. Surks, M.D.
ATA Annual Business Meeting
Portland Hilton Hotel
Portland, Oregon
September 16-20, 1998

It is with appreciation for having the opportunity to serve that I complete my term as Secretary of the American Thyroid Association.  I began my term with apprehension and ended with a warm feeling of accomplishment for seeing the American Thyroid Association flourish, continue to grow in membership and importance to the thyroid and general endocrine community, and for setting the stage for the American Thyroid Association’s entry into the next millenium.  My apprehension during the first months in office was quickly allayed when I observed the extraordinary work ethic, competence and creativity of Diane Miller, the new ATA Administrator.  Diane knows how to get things done and had the vision to upgrade the technology of office operations for greater effectiveness and precision.  She has been and, I believe, will continue to be, an extraordinary administrator of the American Thyroid Association.  I will be forever grateful for the enormous help she gave me during my tenure as well as her friendship. 

The Secretary being the Operating Officer of the American Thyroid Association must work closely with the Treasurer who is the chief financial officer.  I knew, when Manny Blum agreed to serve as Treasurer, that not only would the financial affairs of the Association be in good order but that my job would be made easier.  Manny and I have been friends as well as professional colleagues for many years and the bedrock of our relationship is mutual respect and admiration.  We have had hundreds of discussions over the past five years about issues concerning the American Thyroid Association.  I have always considered Manny’s views extremely important in my decisions concerning our organization.

I also wish to thank my predecessor, Len Wartofsky and past Treasurer, Bob Smallridge, whose advice I sought on many occasions particularly during the first year in office.  They were most generous with their time and did everything in their power to ensure a smooth transition from their administration to our.

HIGHLIGHTS:   1993 – 1998

1.   Officers:  The Secretary and Treasurer serve the needs of the President of the American Thyroid Association as well as the members.  We have been fortunate to hold office during the tenure of five distinguished colleagues who served as President:

     1993-4         P. Reed Larsen, M.D.
     1994-5         Leonard Wartofsky, M.D.

     1995-6         Colum A Gorman, M.B., CH.B

     1996-7         E. Chester Ridgeway, M.D.

     1997-8         Paul B. Davis, M.D.

We appreciate the wise counsel of these outstanding leaders as well as their understanding.  A number of other colleagues helped by serving on the ATA Council and committees as well as Committee Chairpersons.

2.   Annual Meetings:  We have organized and carried out five meetings including the 11th International Thyroid Congress in 1995. 

1994   Chicago, IL  Arthur B. Schneider, M.D.,Ph.D.     
1995 Toronto Paul G. Walfish, M.D.     1437
1996  San Diego  Wolfgang H. Dillmann, M.D.  
1997  Colo. Springs  E. Chester Ridgeway, M.D.  
1998   Portland, OR Mary H. Samuels, M.D.  

We are indebted to the Chairpersons of the Local Arrangements Committees and their committee members who worked very hard, in collaboration with the ATA Administrator, to insure the success and congenial ambiance of our annual meetings.

 3.   Scientific Programs:  We have had the good fortune to work with five outstanding thyroid scientists who served as chairpersons of the Program Committee for the annual meetings.


    Papers Presented
Year    Chairperson      Total     U.S.     International 
1994  Terry F. Davies,M.D.   184   86    98
1995* William W Chin, M.D.         
1996  James A. Fagin, M.D.  191 100    91
1997 Donald St.Germain, M.D.  247 126  121
1998 Sheue-Yann Cheng, Ph.D.     226    110 116

 * 11th International Thyroid Congress:

Attendees:          1439              Papers Presented: 516
Note that the total number of papers presented at our Annual Meeting appears to be increasing.  Approximately 50% of papers are presented by international colleagues.

5.   11th International Thyroid Congress:  The ATA served as the Secretariat for the 11th International Thyroid Congress.  This was an enormous undertaking which was facilitated by upgrading the computer resources and programming of the ATA office.  The meeting attracted more than 1400 participants; 516 papers were presented in addition to symposia, workshops and award lectures.  The social events attending these meetings were outstanding.  The meeting was modestly profitable.  The ATA Council voted to place the profits from the meeting, approximately $27,000 at the disposal of the Organizing Committee for future international thyroid congresses.  Those monies are designated to be used for travel grants for young investigators for the 12 International Thyroid Congress.

6.   The ATA Office:  Soon after taking office, it was apparent to the Secretary and Treasurer that moving the ATA administrative office every five years so that it remains in close physical proximity to the Secretary and Treasurer was both costly and inefficient.  A "blue ribbon panel" consisting of past presidents, secretaries and treasurers was convened in Toronto, Canada in 1995 to discuss the possibility of a permanent location of the American Thyroid Association office.  The panel voted not to develop an administrative relationship with a larger organization such as the Endocrine Society for management of ATA affairs.  They felt strongly that the ATA should maintain its only administrative staff.  Subsequent discussions during the next several years led to a decision to maintain the American Thyroid Association office in its present location and with the same staff. Communications with the new Secretary and Treasurer will be maintained on a day to day basis by email and other means.  This new arrangement which for the first time in the history of our Association separates the offices of the Secretary, Treasurer and Administrator, will be closely monitored.

7.   With approval of Council, the American Thyroid Association office has hired Jennifer Miller as Special Projects Manager.  In her very short time she has been in this position, Ms Miller has self-published the American Thyroid Association Directory and By-laws, stimulated fund raising through the Independent Charities of America, has enabled self-publication of the abstract book for the 1998 Annual Meeting, and has obtained a grant from a major endowment firm to help the ATA begin a drive to expand its Endowment Fund.

8.   Computerization:  Under the guidance of Diane Miller and with the help of Richard Stark, President, Perception Electronics, the office has significantly upgraded its computer hardware and associated management software.  The new systems allow maintenance of membership data base, with integration of financial information and meeting management, including ticketing. 

 9.   Internet Web Site:  http//
With the advice and help of Richard Stark, President, Perception Electronics, the American Thyroid Association initiated an internel web site in 1994 with Mr Stark as Webmaster.  The site is quite active with approximately 30,000 visitors per year.  It contains current information about the ATA, the ATA By-laws and Membership Directory ( members only), Annual Meeting information and registration, New Member information and forms, Patient Support Services, ATA Guidelines for Clinical Practice, ICD-9 Codes, Listing of Research supported by the ATA as well as research opportunities, acknowledgement of corporate support and meeting programs.  In the last several years, our Web Master has developed a mechanism for submission of abstracts to the Annual Meeting by means of the web site.  In 1998, for the first time, 100% of abstracts were submitted electronically.  These innovations considerably increased the efficiency of the ATA office as well as significantly decreased its expenses. 
In the future we envision conducting much more ATA business by means of the web site and email. We would like to see most committees do their work through the web site rather than depend on surface mail, xeroxing, collating and express mail.

10.  ATA-Sponsored Research:    A bequest from the estate of Alison R. Lanier, initially discussed by Dr. Len Wartofsky during his tenure as Secretary was received and set up as a research fund.  The monies were used to fund competitive grants to young investigators for thyroid research.  During the past three years, a total of thirteen grants have been made to young investigator/members of the ATA.  These monies are now supplemented by donations for thyroid research to the Independent Charities of America.  The ATA is therefore one of the few, if not the only, professional organizations that sponsors research in this manner.  One of the visions of the ATA Council is to raise sufficient funds for the ATA Endowment Fund for its proceeds to continue sponsorship of research.

11.  ICD-9 Codes have been developed to facilitate clinical testing in patients with suspected disorders of thyroid function. 

12.  Corporate Support: The relationship between the ATA and corporate supporters has gradually evolved.  In the past, grants from industry were generally used to support social functions.  In the future, industrial support will be directed to the scientific program and to travel grants.

13.  Credit cards:  The use of credit cards, established in 1993, facilitates transfer of monies from our membership to the office.  This has provided a convenience to our members as well as our international colleagues.

14.  Membership Directory & By-laws:  As required in our By-laws, a membership directory and current by-laws were published and distributed to the membership in 1998.  These documents appear on our internet web site with access restricted to members only. 

15.  A Conflict of Interest Policy was established by the Council for officers, council and committee chairs of the ATA.  A continuing relationship with the Association of Program Directors in Endocrinology and Metabolism and the American Thyroid Association has been established.  The American Thyroid Association is one of the supporters of the Program Directors Association. 

16.  The Endocrine Work Force Study: The Council of the ATA voted to join in an effort with other endocrine societies to embark on a study of the endocrine work force.

17.  Mission and Vision Statements: Statements describing the Mission and Visions of the ATA have been developed and are in near final form.  Once they are finalized, they will be distributed to the membership and will serve as a template for ATA activities in the future.

Respectfully submitted,

Martin I. Surks, M.D.