The International Society for Minimally Invasive Cardiothoracic Surgery (ISMICS)
2022 ISMICS Annual Meeting Issue B
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Message From Your Executive Director

Aurelie M. Alger, JDAurelie M. Alger, JD
Executive Director
International Society for Minimally Invasive Cardiothoracic Surgery (ISMICS)

It is with a combined sense of pride, relief, and profound gratitude that I write this message to our 2022 ISMICS Annual Scientific Meeting attendees, guests and industry partners. We welcome you to Warsaw and the 24th Annual Meeting of ISMICS! It is wonderful to see old friends, new faces, and experience the very unique and special fellowship that is a hallmark of ISMICS. As our team has witnessed the camaraderie among the community, and seen so many friendships renewed, we are reminded once again that of all the cardiothoracic organizations in the world, there is something special and indefinable about ISMICS. It remains the most welcoming and inclusive society – a place where early adopters and innovators embrace the newest generations in their specialties, where competition is set aside and encouragement and support is freely offered, and where senior academics sit down with medical students and residents, and where surgeons from around the world share experiences and perspectives. ISMICS is its members – from the founders with a vision back in the late 1990’s, onward to today.

Yesterday we were honored to hear the Presidential Address of Dr. Bob Kiaii, who has led ISMICS this past year with poise and accessibility, and overseen both a rare in person Board Meeting last fall in Barcelona, as well as virtual Board Meetings, and numerous Executive Committee Meetings. Dr. Kiaii graciously stepped into the Warsaw Meeting and enthusiastically aided his superb Thoracic and Cardiac Program Chairs, Drs. David Cooke, Joel Dunning, Dan Bethencourt and Hiro Arai in crafting an ISMICS-worthy program which once again challenges its audience to see the newest and latest innovations and minimally invasive surgical approaches and techniques. Tonight we have the amazing opportunity to attend the Kabucki Arcades at the Royal Castle, and enjoy two of our immediate Past Presidents, Dr. Piotr Suwalski and Dr. Volkmar Falk, perform live music with their band. Please join us for the beauty of the area and take some time to explore Old Town, as enchanting as a postcard. The almost fairytale setting is a perfect backdrop for ISMICS’ return to an in person meeting and reuniting of our vibrant community.

At the time that a decision to meet in Warsaw was made by our Board of Directors back in the fall of 2018, there was a unanimous vote to hold the 2020 Annual Meeting here at the Hilton in Poland. We had the honor of conducting a visit to Warsaw hosted by then ISMICS President Dr. Suwalski in the fall of 2019, and were impressed by the beauty and hospitality of the city. But as the past 2 and a half years taught us, the most organized planning and intentions are not always successful in the face of the unpredictability and caprice of our world. As COVID spread around the globe, our Executive Committee met almost weekly, and it became obvious that we would not be able to meet in Poland in 2020, so it was agreed to shift the meeting forward to 2021, and the Board of Directors voted to freeze the Officers and Directors, before entering into a virtual world by hosting a quick series of webinars to members and surgeons alike, featuring panelists from all corners of the world who worked in cardiac surgery, thoracic surgery, vascular surgery, anesthesia and infectious disease. As the pandemic continued ISMICS developed a corporate member structure, and Innovations Editor and Past President Dr. Niv Ad re-constituted the Expert Consensus Paper series, resulting one of Innovation’s most viewed and cited Expert Consensus Papers on TAVI. Dr. Vinod Thourani co-chaired the panel and together he and Dr. Ad managed to do the near-impossible – get a group of cardiac surgeons and interventional cardiologists to sit together and achieve consensus. If you haven’t yet read the TAVI paper, please do so, as it won’t disappoint.

When it became apparent that 2021 would remain challenging, particularly for an international meeting, ISMICS didn’t resort to being just another virtual meeting, and instead re-imagined medical conferences with what subsequently became an often imitated but never quite surpassed interactive program with a live studio led by Dr. Suwalski, Dr. Kiaii, ISMICS Secretary Sam Balkhy, ISMICS Treasurer Niv Ad, and Thoracic Program Co-Chair Dr. Abbas Abbas. For three days, these innovators came together in our local studio in Massachusetts and transformed from surgeons to “the talent” and hosted the entire meeting in a “SportsCenter” like setting, bantering amongst each other and with the online moderators and presenters. Scripts became guides as they brilliantly hosted session after session and entered the world of commentary and broadcasting. The reception of ISMICS Re-Imagined was universally positive – once again, ISMICS proved itself to be an innovative and forward thinking Society. And I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the amazing AV crew from Rillahan & Associates, and our own ISMICS Team, who rolled up their sleeves, put on headsets, ran cameras and teleprompters, and made the magic happen.

And then we moved forward with a rallying cry of Warsaw 2022. Optimism reigned until February of this year when Ukraine was invaded and instability and uncertainty struck Eastern Europe. After a series of thoughtful, serious “what if” discussions, a decision was made – we move forward, knowing that while our meeting this year might be a little smaller, it would be that much better. And now here we are – a little late but that makes the experience that much sweeter.

With deep and lasting thanks to Bob, Piotr, Vinod, Nikos, Nirav, Sam, our Board, our Program Chairs, and our entire amazing and superb ISMICS Staff Team, I remain humbled and honored to serve as your Executive Director.

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