The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is proud to feature Anthony C. Luke, MD, MPH, FACSM, in this issue’s Clinician Profile. Dr. Luke is the director of Primary Care Sports Medicine and the director of the Human Performance Center at the University of California — San Francisco (UCSF). He completed his family practice training at the University of Toronto followed by a fellowship in sports medicine and Master’s of Public Health at Harvard. His research interests include injury prevention, running medicine, and pediatric sports medicine. He is the director of the UCSF PlaySafe program established in 2003, which organizes sports medicine outreach to 20 local Bay Area high schools, educating student athletes on healthy lifestyles and facilitating access to quality health care. He is the medical director of several large community events including the San Francisco Marathon, local Rock ’n’ Roll Half Marathons, and Escape from Alcatraz. With his running medicine experience, he developed the multidisciplinary running injury prevention clinic at UCSF, called RunSafe. With his innovative spirit, he has founded SPORTZPEAK, a digital health company that promotes smarter and safer exercise using mobile applications and a network of health experts.
You Have Been an ACSM Member Since 1998. How Has ACSM Grown and Changed Since You Became a Member?
Being part of ACSM since 1998 has been a fantastic experience. I started as a medical resident with a podium presentation about my research survey on sports participation factors in high school kids. My mentors told me that ACSM is the place to present sports-related research. I have attended every Annual Meeting as well as several Team Physician Courses since then. ACSM has grown from a leader in exercise science and sports medicine to a global leader in activity promotion and health. ACSM continues to draw on the international wealth of experts, which makes the Annual Meeting so stimulating. ACSM continues to have the leading science in exercise, which sets it apart for me from other groups and conferences. The multidisciplinary depth and interaction with members at different stages of their career enable exploration of everything about exercise, from basic science to advocacy.
What Was It Like to be a Clinician a Decade Ago Compared with Today?
The big difference between practicing now and practicing 10 years ago is patient expectations. With the explosion of information on the Internet, patients are more up-to-date with the latest news and trends in diagnosis and treatment. This can be both positive and negative. While the patients are more educated about treatment options, they have a lot of misinformation, which makes finding an ideal treatment pathway for patients challenging. That is why the foundation of science to rationalize my recommendations for patients as a clinician becomes crucial because I have got to stay up-to-date with the latest literature and science at all times.
How Has Membership in ACSM Influenced Your Career?
The ACSM network has enabled me to work with sports medicine and research PhD colleagues whom I would not know otherwise. It is important to understand that organizations like ACSM create a community for discussion, research, and health promotion so that ideas can grow and develop. Being part of this community is important because exercise is influenced by so many sources outside medicine, from fitness instructors to basic science researchers and physical education teachers to academic professors, all trying to solve similar problems. The impactful answers will require working together.
How Do You Use the ACSM Network in Your Daily Work?
My work on the committees is extremely helpful for meeting new experts that share similar interests. This collaborative work is really an opportunity outside my normal work environment to learn what other experts and centers are doing and new ways to solve problems. Colleagues that I have gotten to know over the years really have helped me through advice and collaboration, which has helped further my work and continues to do so.
What Is Your Best Advice to Other Sports Medicine Clinicians?
I would recommend that clinical sports medicine physicians take advantage of learning from our scientist colleagues. Many clinicians do not have the time or resources to do good research. The research scientists are doing work that helps us understand how things work, but the science needs continued interaction for the optimum translation to clinical applications. Learning more about what others are doing and then trying to tackle the problems between exercise, injury prevention, and improving health are the easiest way to advance our fields.
Where Do You See ACSM Heading in the Future?
I see ACSM’s role on the world stage as crucial. As the largest member organization endorsing exercise, ACSM needs to lead other organizations in the effort to improve health through activity. To reach this world, we need to use technology and behavior change to help individuals take charge of their health and create the cultural change necessary for people to understand the importance of it.
Would You Like To Share Anything Else with the Readers of Current Sports Medicine Reports?
Sports transcend typical politics and inspire people to improve health. We need to look for new ways to use sports to get people active. We also need to understand the motivations of people to exercise. With self-monitoring devices and the new frontier of digital health, we will be interacting much differently with our patients. Sports medicine is a field that exemplifies the principles of wellness and health. There are so many health problems that can benefit from exercise. This is the message that all members, clinicians, and researchers can champion.