In September, the ACR participated in a global rheumatology event by partnering with the Emirates Society of Rheumatology (ESR) to jointly produce an educational meeting. The 4th Annual Conference of the Emirates Society of Rheumatology, in partnership with the ACR, took place Sept. 19–21 in Dubai Festival City, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The conference attracted nearly 300 attendees from the UAE and surrounding countries. Conference attendees had the opportunity to hear from ACR speakers on state-of-the-art advances and updates in the field of rheumatology. The conference marked a first-time partnership and brought together leaders from both organizations.
A New Kind of Meeting
ACR organizers worked with the ESR Scientific Committee to develop a joint meeting that featured programming from the ESR along with additional cutting-edge educational content by ACR-sponsored speakers. A full list of presenters and their topics can be seen in Figure 1 (right). The first day of the three-day meeting consisted of an ESR clinical and scientific program. The next two days focused on updates across the spectrum of rheumatic disease and featured ACR speakers recognized for their contributions to the field of rheumatology. These speakers not only presented state-of-the-art data in their fields of interest, but also served as representatives of the ACR to our international colleagues.
Attendees were highly engaged throughout the conference. It was also clear from the many questions and comments that rheumatologists in the region face many similar challenges to those addressed by the speakers. Learning about some of the more common and unique problems faced by rheumatologists in the region was also enlightening. Many participants expressed appreciation for how much they learned from the talks; one even asserted that the lecture he had just heard from Michelle Petri, MD, MPH, was a “turning point” in his career. Attendees also expressed enthusiasm about their complimentary subscription to the ACR’s online streaming platform, ACR Beyond, which also granted them access to the recorded sessions from the 2018 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting.
The ACR booth was action packed throughout the meeting. Attendees were excited to stop by and talk to ACR staff members Amy Kane, director of continuing medical education, and Charlie Haws senior specialist, membership. Many came by to learn more about their complimentary ACR Beyond subscription, to share how much they were learning from the talks and to learn more about the ACR. Comments submitted by attendees amplified the enthusiasm the region has for ACR educational opportunities.
This meeting reflects the reality that rheumatology is truly an international specialty. This point is evident at the ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting, where participants from around the world account for more than 55% of attendees. The ESR-ACR meeting provided the opportunity to bring the high-quality educational content provided by ACR members to an audience that may not travel to North America. The meeting is also aligned with current ACR strategic goals, which include addressing the needs of international rheumatology professionals. As Dr. Lakhanpal said in his 2017 ACR Presidential Address, “the world is one family.”
The intriguing city of Dubai provided the perfect setting for this historic meeting. Here, the modern and breathtaking sights of new Dubai combined with the long history of civilization exemplified by the spice souks of old Dubai and the stark beauty of the desert underscore the fact that as change rapidly overtakes our old ways of doing things, we have much to learn from working together.
To further our mission of empowering rheumatology professionals to excel in their specialty, we believe this collaboration with the ESR provides an outstanding model wherein physicians and health professionals can obtain top-quality content as well as network and engage with international colleagues and thought leaders. We thank the Emirates Society of Rheumatology for its partnership and collegiality in this endeavor, and we look forward to our next meeting.
David Daikh, MD, PhD, is professor of medicine and director of the Rheumatology Fellowship Training Program at the University of California, San Francisco. He is also chief of the Rheumatology Division at the SFVA Medical Center and directs its Arthritis and Rheumatology clinic. He is the immediate past president of the ACR.
Paula Marchetta, MD, MBA, is a rheumatologist and the CEO and managing partner of Concorde Medical Group, affiliated with NYU Langone Health. She is a clinical professor at NYU School of Medicine and the ACR’s 82nd president.
Sharad Lakhanpal, MBBS, MD, is in private practice at Rheumatology Associates and a clinical professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, both in Dallas. He was president of the ACR from 2016–17.