I’ve always had a soft spot for idioms and maxims. My dad’s go-to phrase was “well, if a frog had wings, it wouldn’t bump its butt every time it hopped.” I’m not sure that it had the desired effect of eradicating my childhood excuse making, but it certainly made me smile. My longtime mentor, Dr. Kathy Edwards, has a host of “Kathy-isms” that help us “focus on the donut and not the hole” and keep us from chasing after diagnoses that are “rarer than hen’s teeth.” Now, my son, who is inexplicably a die-hard Sixers fan routinely tells me to “trust the process.”
After recently attending the PAS Meeting in Denver following 2+ years of the pandemic, the phrase, “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone,” rings particularly poignant. Not only was it terrific to be in the room as colleagues shared new science and debated best clinical practices, PIDS also hosted a wonderful reception where we could catch up with old friends and meet new ones.
Having experienced countless zooms and virtual conferences, it was extraordinary to be together again. That was especially true for our trainees, many of whom had never been to an in-person scientific meeting. I underestimated how much I had missed these conferences and the opportunities they provide to build community.
During PAS, I participated in two events that celebrate our past and give a glimpse into our future. The first was the Research in Academic Pediatrics Initiative on Diversity (RAPID) Luncheon. RAPID is an initiative spearheaded by the American Pediatric Association that provides research funding to young pediatric investigators from groups traditionally underrepresented in medicine. Through the incredibly hard work of our Past-President, Kris Bryant; Executive Director, Christy Phillips; and IDA&E chair, Tony Flores, and with the generous support of Sanofi Pasteur, PIDS was delighted to sponsor two RAPID recipients this year (more about RAPID can be found here).
These awardees are among the most promising young investigators in our field. Congratulations to Dr. Ana Quintero (Mentor: Dr. Asun Mejias) and Dr. Marisa Orbea (Mentor: Dr. Claire Bocchini) on the bright futures they have ahead.
The second event was the American Pediatric Society Howland Gala. This year’s highly prestigious Howland Award was bestowed on Dr. Rich Whitley, the second time a PIDS member has been recognized in the last four years (Dr. Edwards received the 2019 Howland Award). As APS President, Dr. Mary Leonard said, “His tireless efforts led to the development of treatments for infections when none existed and the creation of a future for countless children who previously had none.” The Howland dinner was an opportunity to celebrate a career and life well spent caring for children, advancing our field, and training new generations of scientists.
As a society, PIDS is committed to celebrating successes while looking forward to how we can do better. We want to honor the legends in our field, while creating room for new heroes to emerge. By “putting our money where our mouths are” and investing in new initiatives, we will strengthen our ability to be an inclusive society that is innovative and impactful. It’s who we are.