Opening Ceremony Looks at the History, Future of ATS

ATS President Monica Kraft, MD, kicked off the ATS International Conference at Saturday's Opening Ceremony.

ATS President Monica Kraft, MD, kicked off the ATS International Conference at Saturday’s Opening Ceremony.

On Saturday, attendees gathered for the ATS 2013 Opening Ceremony, which paid homage to host city Philadelphia—the birthplace of American medicine—and recounted the Society’s illustrious history. ATS leaders also shared their vision for the future of the Society.

The Opening Ceremony was supported by AstraZeneca, L.P.
ATS President Monica Kraft, MD, opened the session by looking at the history of the Society, which was founded in 1905 as the American Sanatorium Association.

“Growth came quickly to our Society because the founders adopted a simple, but powerful principle: Answers to seemingly intractable questions are found faster when all those who might contribute to the solution share their observations, discoveries, and ideas,” she said. “This was true in 1905, when the question was how to end the TB epidemic, the greatest killer of people in human history.

“…Since then, this collegial spirit has contributed to virtually all of the major efforts the Society has undertaken, including the Society’s ongoing efforts.”

ATS President-Elect Patricia W. Finn, MD, discussed her agenda for the coming year,

which focuses on health care disparities and how the Society might address these through its policy statements, educational programs, scientific journals, and advocacy.

She referenced a study commissioned by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies that found that the cost of health inequalities and premature death among minority groups in the United States from 2003 to 2006 totaled $1.24 trillion.

The ATS’s breadth of professional backgrounds is one reason why Dr. Finn thinks it can lead the effort toward health equality.

“The Society has a long history of being inclusive, of bringing people from many disciplines together to solve problems,” she said. “It also values partnerships with sister societies here in North America and around the world. This is extremely important. Enlisting the resources and knowledge of these distinguished partners will greatly enhance our efforts.”

Dr. Finn also noted that the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), will soon release a new document “Respiratory Diseases in the World: Realities of Today—Opportunities for Tomorrow.”

The statement “documents the health and economic burden of respiratory disease worldwide and sets forth recommendations for reducing these burdens,” she said.

She noted that the report will be issued in the late summer, but a summary of the challenges that respiratory disease presents, as well as recommendations for meeting these challenges, is available at

Mark Sanders, founder of Inhalatorium, an online museum of medical inhalation technologies (, and managing director of Clement Clarke International, presented a brief history of the inhaler during the Opening Ceremony. Most of the key developments he presented can be traced to Philadelphia.

“If the early developers could see the things here at this meeting,” he said, “they would be impressed.”