Congress of Clinical Rheumatology adapts again, going hybrid for first 2021 meeting
Like so many rheumatology meetings over the last year and a half, the 2021 Congress of Clinical Rheumatology – East has adapted to suit the rolling waves of the pandemic.
The Congress will be held in Destin, Florida, as usual, and will run from Aug. 12 to Aug. 15. But not every speaker will be on site, either due to travel restrictions or their own personal choice. However, every attendee, whether they are present in the Sandestin Hilton and Conference Center or viewing the meeting from home, will have the opportunity to hear every presentation and view every poster.
“There were a number of late additions to the faculty as the COVID-19 situation evolved,” David A. McLain, MD, executive director of the Alabama Society for the Rheumatic Diseases and symposium director of the Congress of Clinical Rheumatology, told Healio Rheumatology.
But McLain assured attendees and potential attendees that the hybrid model of the meeting will not impact the quality of the program. “This year, we are going to have a very diverse agenda,” he said. “We are going to cover everything from axial spondyloarthritis and antiphospholipid syndrome to neuropsychiatric lupus, osteoarthritis and checkpoint inhibitor therapies in patients with rheumatic diseases.”
In short, the conference will touch on “everything new in rheumatology,” according to McLain. “We have not been together for more than a year, so this will be a great chance to catch up on all of the new developments and all that we have missed,” he said.
As a starting point, no medical meeting in 2021 would be complete without a COVID-19 update, according to McLain. Randall O. Cron, MD, PhD, will be handling that area at CCR–East. “Dr. Cron will be talking about COVID as it applies to rheumatology,” McLain said. Specifically, the presentation will cover the extent to which COVID-19 long-hauler syndromes can mimic or present as a number of rheumatologic and autoimmune disorders.
Another key topic will be advances in biologic therapies for patients with Sjogren’s syndrome. “A number of promising trials have been published in this area,” McLain said. “Sjogren’s has been an orphan disease without drugs for a long time, so it is encouraging to see some hope on the horizon for these patients.”
Laura C. Cappelli, MD, MHS, will be presenting on the topic of checkpoint inhibitors, while John J. Cush, MD, is set to give three lectures in rheumatoid arthritis, according to McLain. One of Cush’s talks will deal with seronegative RA, one will be the year in review for RA and the third will be a review of adverse events associated with biologic therapies. “There are new side effects constantly emerging for biologics and small molecule agents, and we want to make sure our attendees stay on top of them,” he said.
Meggan Mackay, MD, MS, will discuss CNS lupus, while Peter Gorevic, MD, will address amyloidosis. “Amyloidosis can look like scleroderma,” McLain said. “This should be a fascinating talk.”
McLain also highlighted the immunology course, which will feature Alan L. Epstein, MD, Richard Furie, MD, Iain McInnes, MD, PhD, and a presentation by Cron. “Dr. Cron will be talking about cytokine storm syndrome and other topics associated with COVID as it pertains to immunology,” he said.
One other important component of the program will be the North American Young Rheumatology Investigator Forum, which will feature input from Cron, Furie and Stephen Lindsey, MD.
The meeting overall will have 27.5 hours of CME credit, while the immunology course will account for 5 hours, according to McLain. Both in-person and online attendees will have options for interacting with speakers in real time. All video presentations will be available for repeat viewing on the website shortly after the fact.
Regarding COVID safety protocols, McLain said that although there is no mask mandate in Florida, in-person participants will be encouraged to wear them at all times. “There will be hand sanitizer stations throughout the facility,” he said.
In addition, posters will not be presented all at once in a large hall. Rather, they will be divided into six rooms and shown as PowerPoint presentations with attendees seated and spaced throughout the rooms.
Beyond clinical topics, McLain noted that there will be a socially distanced banquet in the main hall on Saturday night. “There will be a cocktail reception beforehand,” he said. “Then PhD psychologist David Cosio, who works primarily in pain management, will give a very engaging talk about how to say ‘no’ to patients.”
Overall, McLain believes that, as in years past, CCR–East will offer something for every attendee. “We will encourage social distancing,” he said. “We have learned from recent meetings that it is possible to put on a strong program and do it safely.”