An Expanding Reach
Many other factors—including an exponential growth in effective treatments and industry involvement—have contributed to the current increased participation in the Annual Scientific Meeting. Attendance numbers have always been a source of friendly competition among ACR presidents, notes Dr. Kaplan. “It was sort of unspoken, but we each wanted to see who could get the biggest participation at ‘our’ meeting. I thought I was such a hotshot,” he recalls cheerfully, “when there were over 5,000 attendees who came to the Minneapolis meeting in 1994!” (The 2008 Annual Scientific Meeting had over 14,800 attendees.)
International outreach has also been a hallmark of the ACR in the last 20 years, and both Dr. Shulman and Dr. Kaplan have played a role in this trend. Dr. Shulman served as president of the Pan American League Against Rheumatism (PANLAR) from 1982–1986. At the 1994 Annual Scientific Meeting, Dr. Kaplan organized a gathering of European rheumatology professors invited to encourage their greater participation with the ACR. Everyone, he recalls, fit in one room! Now, as indicated by non-U.S. meeting participants and journal article submissions, that outreach has paid off.