Meeting Highlights from American Thyroid Association 89th Annual Meeting

October 30-November 3, 2019
Sheraton Grand Chicago, IL

A record breaking attendance of practitioners and basic scientifists convened in a record-breaking pre-Halloween blizzard at the 2019 ATA annual meeting to gain insights from the most abstract submissions ever submitted for an annual meeting, according to program co-chairs: Mona M. Sabra, MD, professor of clinical medicine at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York City, and Antonio Di Cristofano, PhD, professor of medicine and of developmental and molecular biology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in New York City. This year's program convened in Chicago, Illinois.

Bringing together endocrinologists, endocrine surgeons, endocrine-focus practitioners, and radiologists, attendees were met with five days of continuing medical education opportunities incljuding 560 lectures, debates, and presentations reflecting advances in research from 39 countries, Dr. Di Cristofano said.

Di Cristofano said that the program committee aimed to provide sessions focusing on important advances in thyroid surgery, such as the need for central neck dissection and the appropriate application of surgery.  

Cari Kitahara Receives the Van Meter Award  

Cari Kitahara, PhD, an investigator in the radiation epidemiology branch received the 2019 Van Meter Award from the American Thyroid Association which is presented annually to an investigator under age 45 years who has made an outstanding contribution to thyroid-focused research.

The award was presented by Julie Ann Sosa, MD,  the Leon Goldman, MD Distinguished Professor of Surgery and chair of the department of Surgery at the University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine, who described Dr. Kitahara as “a researcher of a different phenotype from the majority of attendees,” and “one of the most innovative, rigorous, unprejudiced and courageous” researcher.

Dr. Kitahara offered commentary on the “Changing incidence of thyroid cancer: real, artifact, or both?” by documenting trends in thyroid cancer incidence and mortality, with particular attention to the increasing incidence of papillary thyroid cancers, even more so in men.

In offering possible reasons to explain these trends, she reiterated the acknowledged role of overdiagnosis and detection bias as a result of advances in imaging to explain most of the rise in thyroid cancer, as well as the only know causative factor coming from exposure to ionizing radiation during childhood, and adding a strong emphasis on the positive association between body mass index (BMI), obesity prevalence, and thyroid cancer.

She offered a compelling finding from a pooled analysis—"the risks of thyroid cancer increase 15% for every rise in BMI of 5 kg/m2.” In addition to BMI, she mentioned young adult weight BMI, adult weight gain, and central adiposity as contributing factors to increased mortality due to aggressive thyroid cancer.

Research Focused on Molecular Testing Earns Bryan R. Haugen Award

he 2019 Sidney H. Ingbar Distinguished Lectureship Award was presented to Bryan R. Haugen, MD, professor of medicine and pathology at the University of Colorado in Denver, chief of endocrinology, metabolism and diabetes, and director of the Thyroid Tumor Program and holds the Mary Rossick Kern and Jerome H. Kern Chair in Endocrine Neoplasms Research, which reaches more than 3,000 patients with thyroid cancer annually.

The Ingbar Award is bestowed to an established investigator for significant contributions to thyroid-related research. In accepting this honor, Haugen delivered a presentation, “Rational Combination Therapies in Advanced Thyroid Cancer.”

Dr. Haugen is a leading researcher in the field of thyroid cancer molecular mechanisms, including thyroid neoplasms, advanced thyroid cancer, thyroid dysfunction, and other endocrine tumors (ie, parathyroid, adrenal, carcinoid). He led the work to validate a novel molecular test, Afirma Gene Expression Classifier.

Martha A Zeiger, MD, Singled Out for Mentorship

This year’s recipient of the Lewis E. Braverman Distinguished Award recipient was Martha A. Zeiger, MD, director of the surgical oncology program at the National Cancer Institute, in Bethesda, Maryland. The award is bestowed to a member of the organization “who has demonstrated excellence and passion for mentoring fellows, students, and junior faculty; has a long history of productive thyroid research; and is devoted to the ATA.”

In accepting the award, Dr. Zeiger presented a lecture, “From Mentee to Mentor …What I Have Learned in 25 Years,” in which she has trained students in endocrine surgery, endocrinology, cytopathology, and nuclear medicine. This past July, she joined the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute where she is leading a research team that is focused on developing future pathways for the professional development of surgeon-scientists. And, she founded the Endocrine Surgery University, an annual course for all endocrine surgery fellows across North America, which is coordinated by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Beyond her many roles and responsibilities, Dr. Zeiger continues to provide daily mentorship to medical students, residents, and fellows in the operating room and Endocrine Surgery clinic. Her “long history of productive thyroid research, excellence and passion for mentoring, and devotion to the ATA” makes her a very worthy recipient this prestigious recognition.

EndocrineWeb attended the meeitng to share highlights of key presentations as well as valuable clinical insights gleaned from attendees. 

  • An overview of new minimally invasive and surgical techniques aimed to improve thyroid cancer treatment. The issue of neck scarring drew a great deal of attention both because the images of very damaged skin at the incision point were so shocking and made worse after the presentation of data raised concerns about the social and emotional impact that a scar has in drawing attention away from a person's face. 
  • Attendees were fortified about the need to gain greater comfort recommending Active Surveillance to the growing number of patients who would most likely benefit from postponing surgery or other more invasive treatments.
  • Highlights of several insightful posters are featured, including the hope for approval of the first-ever treatment for thryoid eye disease, and the need to broaden the topics beyond thryoid cancer presented at future ATA meetings.


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First Article From This Meeting:
ATA Poster Highlights on TED, Hashimoto’s, and Active Surveillance
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