In celebration of the 75th year of the SVS, the Vascular Research Initiatives Conference (VRIC), typically held in early May, is moving this year to be held during the 2021 VAM in August. In a year when so much has been challenging, SVS president Ronald Dalman, MD, and VAM leadership considered how VAM could serve as a “homecoming” for all vascular surgeons.
The VRIC sessions will be live, held from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Aug. 19 and 20, during VAM. All VAM registrants may attend VRIC sessions. Those who want to attend VRIC only will be able to pay just the VRIC-only fee. The conference emphasizes basic and translational vascular science. A hallmark of the meeting is the give-and-take among presenters and attendees, with discussion that helps motivate participants to discover solutions to important problems affecting vascular patients.
The agenda includes four sessions, on: “Arterial remodeling and discovery science for venous disease”; “Atherosclerosis and the role of the immune system”; “Aortopathies and novel vascular devices”; and “Vascular regeneration, stem cells and wound healing.”
VRIC also features the annual Alexander W. Clowes Distinguished Lecture. Philip S. Tsao, PhD, of Stanford University, will present the lecture, “Molecular and genetic approaches to understanding abdominal aortic aneurysm disease.”
Many VRIC presenters are early-career surgeon-scientists, explained Dalman. Presenting at the conference long ago helped him get his own career started, he said. And for those just starting out, the in-person feedback is important. Attendees will follow up a research presentation up with questions such as “Why did you do that? What else did you consider? You should talk to Max who has a similar interest in that area.
“The indirect benefit of that interaction is almost as valuable as the science presented, if not more so,” he said. “In science, it’s all about trying to get as much feedback as possible on your ideas. Interaction, face-to-face, comparing notes, probing for alternative explanations to data, questions and answers—those are all a really important part of the process.”
Moving VRIC to the VAM umbrella is partially a result of the cancellation of the 2021 American Heart Association’s Vascular Discovery science sessions, which for several years have been held in conjunction with each other. With Discovery not taking place this year, the Basic and Translational Research Committee and SVS leadership made the proposition of holding VRIC as part of VAM this year, to promote the in-person interaction considered so important. SVS leaders anticipate a return to the traditional AHA partnership in 2022. Committee Chair Luke Brewster, MD, called VRIC@VAM a chance to come together a broader SVS membership.
“We are grateful to Drs. Dalman and Tzeng, and our VAM program directors, Andy Schanzer and Matt Eagleton, for providing us with this great opportunity to meet face-to-face and share cutting edge basic and translational research with each other,” he said.
To an extent, holding the two meetings together underscores the SVS branding messages of comprehensive vascular care and “Surgery is only part of our story,” Dalman added. “We’re not just technicians,” he said. Those conducting translational research are working to understand the fundamental basis of disease and to manage it. “We’re pushing the frontiers of the disease; we’re understanding who gets the disease, why and novel ways to prevent and treat it.”