What to Look for at the 2015 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Annual Meeting

Paul V. Williams, MD, chair of the 2015 AAAAI annual meeting planning committee, discusses key presentations and features attendees should watch for at this year's event.

When the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology convenes its 2015 annual meeting February 20-24, in Houston, TX, attendees will see some distinct differences from prior years while also getting the same high level of information they have come to expect from the event.

Paul V. Williams, MD, the chair of the annual meeting planning committee, and a clinical professor of pediatricsenvironmental health at the University of Washington in Seattle, said a newly implemented tracking system will help attendees find the sessions they are looking for in a more expeditious manner.

“The meeting is always a good draw,” Williams said, adding that there will also be a shift in the approach the AAAAI takes to its annual meeting. “We want to track more basic science back into our program,” he said.

In recent years, Williams said a considerable amount of the focus has been on more clinical topics and less on the basic science of allergy and asthma treatment. “The pendulum always swings a little too far,” Williams said of the reaction to the criticism of prior attendees. “Seventy percent are practicing allergists, but it’s also important that we have this core of scientists who want to be part of the conference.”

Upon arriving in Houston, Williams said there will be plenty of sessions to attend and learn about a wide variety of topics. There will be multiple keynote addresses at the event.

One will be given by John P.A. Ioannidis, MD, DSc of Standford University, who will be discussing issues seen with pieces seen in research and other publications and “not everything getting reported as it should be.”

Gideon Lack, MD, of King’s College in London will be speaking on Monday afternoon. Williams said Lack will “presenting groundbreaking research on food allergy prevention” from the Learning Early About Peanut (LEAP) study during his talk.

In the field of immunology there has been no greater challenge for medical science this year than the Ebola outbreak, which will be the topic of the talk by Nancy Sullivan, PhD, from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Sullivan will focus on the work put into developing vaccines for rare infections like Ebola.

Beyond the keynotes, Williams said there is something for everyone at the conference, which is what has ultimately made it so successful in the past. The hope is the new format will help to make it even more successful in the future.

“We know the standard lecture with slides is not the best way to impart knowledge or change behavior. We’re getting more integrational and interactive,” he said.

Williams also said the AAAAI expects between 6,000 and 7000 professionals to attend this year’s annual meeting, where they can choose from more than 300 presentations and review nearly 1000 abstracts.