An informal gathering of rheumatology elders occurred recently in the Five Sails Restaurant at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia. The occasion was a small party marking the end of the 9th International Congress of Lupus, an exciting conference that showcased advances in lupus research from bench to bedside. As multiple meeting presentations made clear, investments in research are bearing abundant fruit as studies on lupus are defining the genetic substrate of disease, the cellular anomalies driving autoreactivity, and, most importantly, targets of new therapy. Not surprisingly, after hours of lectures, hallway conversations, and frenetic tours of posters, a pleasant evening of conversation and libation was most welcome.
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Explore This IssueJanuary 2011
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Vancouver is a spectacular city that is unique in North America. Rising majestically from the water that surrounds the city are walls of towering mountains that, even in June, are topped with snow. The air is crisp and cool. Seagulls fly solo or in formation, gliding and soaring, as sea planes buzz on their takeoff and landings, right next to the giant cruise ships that dock in the harbor. Notwithstanding its scenic beauty, Vancouver is a modern bustling city, populated with silver-white skyscrapers with architecture that seems more from Miami Beach than Ottawa or Montreal.
In the Five Sails Restaurant, our council of elders tasted local British Columbia wines that would easily rival those of nearby California, Washington, or Oregon. We had a restrained but fruity chardonnay and a pinot noir redolent of cherries. This was the real deal, splendid offerings from the land of Moosehead and Molson Golden.
Comparing War Stories
With the ascent of our blood-alcohol levels—a biomarker as good as any—our group told war stories of venerable and venerated rheumatologists and reflected on the good old days of training when house officers worked every other night and the idea of duty hours would seem preposterous, indeed a sign of weakness that, may I dare say, would be viewed as unmanly. Embroidering lavishly a tale from the past, one of the world’s eminent rheumatologists described an incident from his day as a medical student. He told us how, working in the mayhem and howling of a big city hospital, he asked his patient, a young prostitute strung out on drugs, to join him in a utility closet so that he could hear better her heart and lungs. The uproarious account of subsequent events left us sputtering with laughter and eyes pouring with tears.