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American Association for Bronchology: Approaching the 10th Anniversary

Beamis, John F. Jr. M.D.

Editorial
Free

President

American Association for Bronchology

Lahey Clinic

Burlington, Massachusetts, USA

It is truly an honor for me to assume the presidency of the American Association for Bronchology (AAB) as the association nears its 10th anniversary. The origins of the AAB date back to the combined 7th World Congress for Bronchology (WCB) and 7th World Congress for Bronchoesophagology (WCBE), which were held at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, USA, in September 1992. Dr. Udaya Prakash invited a small group of American pulmonologists attending the Congress to an evening meeting during which he outlined his vision of organizing a society of American bronchologists modeled after societies in other countries and of establishing a journal dedicated to bronchology. The concept was endorsed enthusiastically by the members present, some of whom were nationally and internationally recognized bronchologists (Drs. Paul Kvale, Ko-Pen Wang, Denis Cortese, Michael Unger, Eric Edell, and Udaya Prakash); others were not so well-known (I would put myself in this group). Within a few months, an official charter and bylaws were drawn up by Mayo Clinic lawyers, and the AAB was launched with its office at the Mayo Clinic. The founding members elected Dr. Prakash to a 2-year term as the first president of the AAB. The first issue of the Journal of Bronchology was published in January 1994 with Dr. Prakash as Editor-in-Chief.

In the subsequent years, Drs. Paul Kvale of Henry Ford Hospital, Atul Mehta of the Cleveland Clinic, and Henri Colt of the University of California at San Diego Medical Center followed as presidents of the AAB.

Soon after it was established, the AAB developed a close relationship with the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP). We hold our annual scientific session and board of directors meeting during the annual meeting of the ACCP. The annual scientific session usually consists of a series of didactic lectures by recognized national and international experts on various aspects of bronchology and interventional pulmonology. Hands-on workshops are often included in the session to introduce attendees to newer diagnostic and therapeutic bronchoscopic techniques. Each year, the entire membership is invited to attend the annual scientific meeting and the social hour after the meeting. Members are also encouraged to participate in the annual business meeting held during the scientific session.

The membership of the AAB has now grown to 267. The Journal of Bronchology, originally “dedicated to the art and science of bronchoscopy and related disorders,” is currently subscribed to by 1,000 individuals and institutions in the United States, is distributed in 36 countries, and is the showcase of the AAB. The journal contains original articles, case reports, and review articles on bronchology and interventional pulmonology topics. Several years ago the editorial board changed the mission of the journal to one “dedicated to bronchoscopy and interventional pulmonology,” to highlight other areas of interventional pulmonary medicine in addition to bronchology.

In addition to being the official publication of the AAB, the Journal of Bronchology has become the official publication of the World Association for Bronchology (WAB). The WAB was founded by Dr. Shigeto Ikeda and has its main office in Tokyo, Japan. Bronchology associations have been established in a number of other countries and all are affiliated loosely with the WAB. The WAB, along with the International Bronchoesophagological Society, a group comprised primarily of otolaryngologists who are interested in bronchology, cosponsor the biannual WCB and WCBE. The WCB and WCBE alternate in locations among Asia, the Americas, and Europe. The 12th WCB/12th WCBE will be held in Boston, MA, USA, in June 2002. These World Congresses attract international experts in bronchology and other areas of interventional pulmonology, and offer wonderful opportunities to develop local, national, and international contacts with physicians of similar interests.

The AAB is playing an increasingly important role within the WAB and has become highly respected by our colleagues from other countries. Past presidents of the AAB have been particularly successful in developing relationships and collaborations with international colleagues. Drs. Prakash, Kvale, and Mehta have been excellent ambassadors for American bronchology and have represented the AAB in many international forms. I would particularly like to acknowledge the dedication that Dr. Henri Colt has given to the AAB during his 2 years as president. Not only has Dr. Colt represented the AAB at national and international conferences, he has also worked tirelessly to strengthen our organization. He has developed an excellent Web site (http://www.aabronchology.org), and he has spearheaded a reorganization of our committee structure and a renewal of our bylaws. Dr. Colt has helped boost membership in the AAB by adding affiliate membership categories and has promoted committee participation by all members of the organization, not just the board of directors and founding members.

Now that the AAB has weathered its first decade, where should we go from here? Flexible bronchoscopy is one of few areas of expertise, possibly, along with pulmonary function testing and ventilator management, that distinguishes pulmonology from other specialties of medicine. Studies have shown that more than 95% of pulmonologists perform flexible bronchoscopy. Therefore this is a procedure that should be taken seriously by all pulmonologists. The AAB strives to foster excellence in bronchology and in other areas of interventional pulmonology and has, and will continue to do so in the future, worked closely with the ACCP and the American Thoracic Society (ATS) in setting standards of practice. The epidemic of lung cancer over the past several decades has stimulated the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic methods that can be applied via the bronchoscope. The AAB, through the Journal of Bronchology and through its annual scientific sessions, helps promote the widespread application of these techniques throughout the specialty of pulmonary medicine.

Despite the large number of bronchoscopists in the United States, AAB membership, although increasing, remains quite low. It is the goal of the AAB leadership to expand membership significantly in the AAB. We hope that the AAB will eventually represent all bronchologists and will be a leader in establishing standards of excellence, promoting multi-institution studies and disseminating the science of bronchology and interventional pulmonology through the annual scientific session and the Journal of Bronchology. The quality of the journal has been excellent and continues to improve. Dr. Prakash and his associate editors are continuously seeking high-quality articles to publish in the journal. The journal will apply for inclusion in Index Medicus in 2002. Submission of high-quality articles by our membership and others will go a long way to ensuring the success of our application. Learn more about the Journal's on-line access at http://www.bronchology.com

Participation in the AAB over the past decade has been one of the most rewarding and fun aspects of my medical career. I have made many friends in this country and in a number of other countries—all of whom have the common interest of pursuing excellence in interventional pulmonology. Therefore, I am extremely honored to assume presidency of the AAB for the next 2 years. Dr. Praveen Mathur, my good friend and vice-president, and I will work hard to expand the membership of the AAB and make membership in the AAB a rewarding experience for all members. We are particularly interested in fostering associate membership to pulmonary fellows and affiliate membership to nurses, respiratory therapists, and other allied health professionals. We realize that the future of the AAB depends on a membership that is energetic, enthusiastic, and constantly growing and renewing itself. The founding members who were present 10 years ago are still integrally involved with the AAB, but we need new talent to take us into future decades. As the AAB develops into a larger multidisciplinary organization, its role within international organizations, such as the WAB, the ACCP, and the ATS, can only become more prominent.

I invite all members of the AAB, WAB, and other bronchology societies to attend the 12th WCB and the 12th WCBE in Boston, MA, USA, June 16–19, 2002. This will be a great opportunity to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the AAB. Many world experts in bronchology and interventional pulmonology have already agreed to give state-of-the-art and how-I-do-it lectures. Multidisciplinary symposia have been organized on various aspects of diagnostic and therapeutic bronchology, laryngology, and pleuroscopy. Social programs are planned that will help foster warm relationships among our national and international colleagues. Additional information can be found elsewhere in this journal or at http://www.aabronchology.org.

I look forward to seeing you in Boston in June and at future AAB programs.

To quote my predecessor: “Bronchologically yours,”

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.