From the president: Standing tall in Denver

By George J. Hruza, MD, MBA, FAAD, president, AAD

The “Mile High City” is not a metaphor. The 13th step on the west side of the State Capitol Building in Denver is exactly 5,280 feet above sea level, so you can actually stand one mile high.

George J. Hruza, MD, MBA, FAAD

Standing tall is also an apt metaphor for the AAD and this very special 2020 AAD Annual Meeting in Denver. The AAD Meeting has been poking its head and shoulders above the crowd steadily for more than 80 years, and quickly established its Annual Meetings as the premier dermatology event of the year. The 2020 AAD Annual Meeting will not disappoint with over 1,000 speakers and over 350 educational sessions ranging from large symposia and courses to intimate focus sessions and hands-on workshops.

I find the plenary topics especially intriguing. Dr. Karen Edison will address the rapid transformation in dermatology that we are in the midst of and how to successfully lead through such rapid change. Dr. Suzanne L. Topalian will share her knowledge about the revolutionary immune checkpoint blocking drugs for the treatment of melanoma and other skin cancers. This is the first class of drugs to have shown a truly meaningful impact on patient survival. Dr. John Harris will give a talk on “Vitiligo Treatment from the Iron Age to the Age of Biologics.” Dr. Aimee Payne will present the 2020 Eugene J. Van Scott Award/Frost Leadership Lecture “Taking Aim at Autoimmunity with CAAR T Cells.”

Dr. R. Rox Anderson will be receiving the Academy’s highest honor, the Gold Medal, for his revolutionary contributions to the development of laser and energy-based dermatology. It’s an important moment for me because Rox was my mentor during my fellowship at the Wellman Lab and an inspiration in my career. Make sure you seek him out at the meeting and congratulate and thank him for the positive impact he has had on countless patients and physicians. And remember to seek out and thank your own mentors as well.

When you’re at a high elevation, it’s inevitable to look above and beyond — and that’s what these meetings have come to mean. Above and beyond the incredible sessions, speakers and events, the AAD Annual Meeting is also about collegiality, professionalism, and recharging our batteries to return back to our patients with new knowledge. And above all that, we improve our patient care and revitalize our purpose and enjoyment of practicing dermatology. Denver has grown up, tall and proud, and so has the AAD. And I’m personally proud and honored to be your president during this amazing time of monumental growth.