18th May – 23rd May 2018

American Thoracic Society International Conference (San Diego)

I’ve (Alex) been on my travels again!

This time I was fortunate enough to travel to America for the American Thoracic Society (ATS) International Conference in San Diego, USA. I certainly felt like a needle in a haystack facing the daunting task of going to a conference on my own ….. again! However, the pulmonary rehabilitation gang are a very warm and welcoming bunch so it didn’t take me long to find my feet.


I had decided to utilise the ATS Mentor-Mentee scheme for the conference. I was lucky enough to be paired with Chris Burtin from Hasselt, someone whose work I was very familiar with. Speaking to Chris before the conference, and then meeting him in San Diego certainly helped ease my way into it. It was a pleasure to meet and be paired with Chris, a very kind person and someone I look forward to working with in the future!

I found the ATS conference to be slightly different to ERS conferences, but that’s what I was hoping for as I wanted to get a taste of the two biggest respiratory conferences in the world during my time as a PhD student. Like always, I enjoyed hearing about the latest research in the field of pulmonary rehabilitation, but I also enjoyed watching the ‘pro-con’ debate. It was certainly eye-opening to see how a consensus cannot be reached on certain issues amongst the leading researchers/healthcare professionals. More research needed!

As you can imagine, if you viewed the twitter feed, I yet again went into a bit of a twitter frenzy at the conference. Hope you enjoyed the coverage! It was quite nice when it came around to my turn to present on some of the research (see link – https://www.atsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1164/ajrccm-conference.2018.197.1_MeetingAbstracts.A4322) I have done thus far. You can’t be tweeting whilst presenting ……. right!? I was honoured to receive an ATS abstract scholarship for this abstract submission to accompany the good news of receiving financial support from Santander Universities & Physiological Society. I really enjoyed the next step of presenting in front of an audience and the engagement with questions that followed. Big thanks to Rachel Evans for chairing a great session!


It was great to see some colleagues within the field of respiratory medicine again. It’s nice to have this network and discuss potential options as I approach the end of my PhD. I have a few ideas in the pipeline and having this network will certainly help some of these ideas come to life!

To end, I would like to thank everyone on the ATS Pulmonary Rehabilitation Assembly for making this conference thoroughly enjoyable and productive for myself and welcoming me in to the assembly on my first visit to an ATS conference! Hopefully see you all soon!