A Scientific Hit Parade In New Orleans

The 2016 AHA Scientific Sessions couldn’t have come at a better time. I congratulate the countless administrators, clinicians, scientists, students, abstract reviewers and technical staff that pulled this off big league (or is that bigly?). Although for some folks it felt a little early to venture into red-state territory, but alas New Orleans is fantastic city of amazing people, rich culture and a great place to visit again. A big success in The Big Easy. As these sessions near the end here are a few highlights and observations from this year’s meeting:


  • Big data was a big feature. Eric Peterson of Duke Clinic Research Institute, delivered an exciting and forward thinking overview of the field as it relates to new opportunities in clinical research as well as delivering more support to and engaging better with our patients. Additionally, AHA CEO Nancy Brown announced the secure cloud-based data marketplace – AHA Precision Medicine Platform – to provide new opportunities for multi-omic data analysis. However, questions remain as to how to successfully translate potential findings into successful clinical care, especially as it pertains to lifestyle change and disease prevention.
  • Amazing posters! Will always play a special role in these sessions. Here is the chance to connect with former lab mates and current collaborators face-to-face (sometimes for the first time after years of email and teleconferences) and seeing the spark from young scientists presenting for the very first time. For me, fun memories from June 2004 as a graduate student at the American Diabetes Association sessions in Orlando.
  • A 50 ring circus is not easy to manage and bravo to AHA for pulling things off so well. We have to ignore our audiophile tendencies during the day to tolerate a bit of mic feedback or mid-range ring here and there but amazing work from the black-shirt AV teams lurking in the shadows. Science came through loud and clear during the day and we were rewarded by the sweet sounds at Preservation Hall at night. Of course, things happen and the moderator for my session was M.I.A. (hoping things are OK) but we managed to remain faithful to time limits and engage in a nice Q&A otherwise.
  • Smartphones are changing these meetings as well medicine. An App is never perfect, and I’ve heard enough grumbles about this one, but having the entire schedule, abstracts and ePosters readily accessible is excellent. Remember those unruly abstract books? That was when the conference bags were actually useful. Now, time to get rid of those too.


  • Interactive groups sessions are an important addition to the conference world rather than the standard lecture format. Former AHA Early Career blogger Kiran Musunuru led a meaningful half-day boot camp on clinical genomics that was spectacular. In small groups we worked through a real-world case as it related to a young patient with HCM with an MHY7 mutation and used online tools ClinVar, PolyPhen, OMIM and ClinGen to guide our decision making. Certainly resources that clinicians should start becoming familiar with if not already.
What’s on your hits list from AHA 2016?

Evan Muse, MD, PhD, MCTI
Assistant Professor, Scripps Translational Science Institute, La Jolla, Calif.

Evan Muse is an Assistant Professor at the Scripps Translational Science Institute and Cardiologist at The Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, California. His research mines the transition zone of digital medicine, genomics and atherosclerosis. Join him on Twitter @EvanMuse
Posted by Evan Muse on Nov 15, 2016 6:41 PM America/Chicago