IRQ Articles

Letter from the SIR 2020/2021 chair 

04-22-2020 13:14

View virtual SIR 2020 programming details or listen to Dr. Peña describe the COVID-19 impact on Miami, the SIR 2020 annual meeting and the evolution of education for IRs.

Constantino S. Peña, MD, FSIR, serves as the medical director of vascular imaging at the Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute—a Baptist Health South Florida Center of Excellence. He serves as chair of the SIR 2020/2021 Annual Scientific Meeting.

The SIR Annual Scientific Meeting has always been unique in its sphere. Unlike so many other meetings, the ASM is developed and led by our members, for our members. It’s a direct representation of the society and its values, and every year that I have served on its committee, we have brought something new and impactful to our members.

This year’s Annual Scientific Meeting is certainly no exception.

The decision to cancel SIR 2020 in Seattle due to COVID-19 concerns was difficult. It was one of the hardest times I’ve experienced in this role, as the Annual Meeting Committee and SIR leadership had to ask ourselves what was appropriate, necessary and safest for our members. Ultimately, we made the correct decision—one we can all be proud of.

We were then faced with a choice: Should we go forward with the meeting at all? Would the community still want one? Is it right to put forward a meeting during a global pandemic, and will members even have the bandwidth to contribute and participate?

As time passed, however, it became clear that an annual meeting—in some form—was needed. Beyond providing an opportunity to network and meet with old and new friends, the SIR annual meeting serves a crucial role in educating, spotlighting ground-breaking science and providing a platform for the community to communicate, collaborate and come together. Now more than ever, during this time of isolation, the Annual Meeting Committee understands the importance of celebrating our community.

We are excited to offer a virtual Annual Scientific Meeting this year, one that is interactive, adaptive and accessible to all members. With this virtual meeting, members will be able to view the submitted abstracts and posters that make up the backbone of our scientific program. In my time as scientific program chair I came to better appreciate the critical role of these offerings in the community, and the science submitted this year is not only of high quality but well-poised to influence the nature of our practice.

SIR 2020 in Seattle was set to be a meeting to be proud of, full of educational opportunities, experiential learning and the best sessions and speakers our field can offer. We’re sad to miss out on the in-person experience but are pleased that the virtual format not only allows us to respond to the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also expands the reach of the annual meeting to a larger number of members who previously may not have been able to attend. Working on virtual alternatives has unveiled exciting accessibility opportunities to explore for future meetings.

Without the time and effort of our volunteers, faculty, session coordinators, staff and committee members, neither the Seattle-based SIR 2020 nor the virtual annual meeting efforts would be successful. It’s been an honor to work with every member who has contributed and adapted to provide the meeting content you will learn about in this section.

Also within this section, we honor all of our SIR and SIR Foundation award winners. These individuals have been immeasurably impactful to IR and deserve to be celebrated. I encourage all members to read on to learn about our Gold Medalists, discover who has made their mark in the field this year and appreciate which papers have been highlighted for outstanding contributions.

Though this time poses an unparalleled challenge to the work and personal lives of our members, our community is resilient. Every day I am impressed by our society members and their ability and dedication to making an impact. The collective pandemic response shows how strong and empathetic our community is and makes me proud to be an IR. The annual meeting content is a reflection of our society’s adaptive nature, and I am proud to have done my part to help celebrate, discuss and explore our tremendous field.

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This article is part of Connecting Everywhere, a special section of the spring 2020 IR Quarterly, highlighting how SIR and IRs have responded to the global COVID-19 crisis with teamwork, agility and innovation.

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