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March 8, 2023

President’s Letter from C. Buddy Creech – Perseverance and Purpose

Until Tuesday of last week, the only time I had been in a court room was in high school, competing in mock trial. While traveling to the St. Jude/PIDS Conference in Memphis, however, I stopped to appear in court to resolve the legal transfer of my mother’s estate, following her passing during the pandemic. The peculiar setting reminded me of the importance of my family – the sacrifices they made for me, the support they consistently provided – and my own finitude.

It is far too easy to be swept away by a busy schedule, grant submissions, lecture preparations, family responsibilities, and any other number of competing interests; but a clear understanding of who we are and why we are here creates intentionality and invigorates purpose. While our individual paths are different, we are bound together in our shared vision to advance the health of children, reducing the burden of infectious diseases worldwide.

Surrounded by St. Jude scientists, clinicians, and staff who are committed to their dream that ‘no child should die in the dawn of life,’ we heard remarkable lectures and presentations on new science, complicated cases, best clinical practice, and how to communicate our science more effectively. On behalf of PIDS, I offer our sincere gratitude to St. Jude for their partnership, and to Dr. Elaine Tuomanen for her vision nearly a quarter century ago to create this meeting.  

Three observations from the meeting:

  1. We have the privilege to train the next generation of pediatric ID physicians, scientists, pharmacists, and advanced practice providers. This year, PIDS launched meetID, a program that invites undergraduates, medical students, and residents to their choice of St. Jude/PIDS, PAS, or IDWeek to experience the pediatric ID community in person. We had 9 students participate in Memphis and I could not be more excited for the contributions they will make in infectious diseases.
  2. PIDS continues to grow, and each of us play a role in advancing our mission. We have an amazing staff, and during the PIDS Board Meeting, we identified additional ways in which we can grow the number of staff members as well as reorganize our approach to governance. We hope to make some announcements regarding new hires very soon. Additionally, this meeting was the largest in St. Jude/PIDS history. Over 1,000 people attended, with nearly 300 attending in person.
  3. PIDS is a global community into which we will continue invest. A little over 25% of conference attendees were those who traveled from outside the U.S. Each brought a unique perspective on the needs of patients and providers in their regions. We would do well to consider that diagnostic and antimicrobial stewardship may look very different in rural South America than it does in urban US. We must also acknowledge that opportunities for funding and scholarship may require different approaches in the Middle East than in Asia or West Africa. PIDS is committed to understanding these regional distinctions better so that we can serve all in our society better.

I could not be more excited about where PIDS is and where it is going. There is much to be done in our efforts to prevent and treat infectious diseases worldwide; however, I am convinced – especially after last week’s meeting – that our purpose is right and that we are exactly the ones to achieve it.

Onward and upward,

Buddy

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