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Opening Ceremony Brings Together the World of Otolaryngology

The virtual campus of the AAO-HNSF 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting & OTO Experience was the gathering spot where attendees from around the world assembled to kick-start their unique six-week experience and access to cutting-edge and state-of-the-art education and research, networking and peer-to-peer discussions, interactions with exhibitors in the OTO Experience, and so much more!

Duane J. Taylor, MD

Duane J. Taylor, MD, AAO-HNS/F President, welcomed more than 4,600 attendees recognizing the impact and burden the COVID-19 pandemic has had on both professional and personal lives. “I would like to express gratitude to all of the otolaryngologists and to all in the healthcare community…Your outpouring of care, compassion, and selfless volunteerism, and the ability to shine a light forward during this challenging time, has inspired us all and truly made a difference.”

Focusing on the value of leadership and the ability to rise under the pressures of life, Dr. Taylor shared, “It’s been said that crisis creates opportunity for creativity and innovation and generates the emergence of leadership. YOU stepped up and I thank you. It has been an important and memorable year, which I will appreciate and remember forever. I will continue to serve and support our illustrious and great organization in the future.”

Following a moment of silence to remember all those who have lost their lives since the start of COVID-19, Dr. Taylor paid special tribute to the work of Mark K. Wax, MD, outgoing Annual Meeting Program Coordinator, “for the passion, innovation, commitment, and leadership he has brought to the coordinator’s role” since 2017. He also recognized the following four individuals he selected for Presidential Citations for their profound influence on his life and their outstanding contributions to the specialty:  Mirion P. Bowers, MD, Lorenzo S. Brown, MD, Howard W. Francis, MD, MBA, and Ronald B. Kuppersmith, MD, MBA.

Carol R. Bradford, MD, MS

The events of the Opening Ceremony demonstrated that the traditions and ceremonies of the Annual Meeting would not be hindered by the distance of participants. Attendees were witness to the first-ever virtual acceptance of the Past-President’s gavel and pin by Dr. Taylor and acceptance of the Presidential medallion by President-Elect Carol R. Bradford, MD, MS.

James C. Denneny III, MD, AAO-HNS/F Executive Vice President and CEO, took the stage on the virtual campus to share some highlights from the Academy but first expounded on the response of the global otolaryngology community to the pandemic. “I am especially proud of otolaryngologists and healthcare providers around the world for the professional and sacrificial way they responded to the unprecedented global crisis, putting themselves at risk for patients with a highly transmissible and virulent disease.”

He noted that inroads have been made with patient care because of the specialty’s intent focus in the midst of COVID-19. “We have witnessed and continue to experience unparalleled collaboration and cooperation across all specialty societies in otolaryngology and across all regions in the world, as we shared experiences, vital information, and solutions freely and rapidly.”

Joel Selanikio, MD

The virtual campus was turned over to award-winning keynote speaker Joel Selanikio, MD, who delivered a speech on the topic of Pandemics, Science, and Medicine: Challenges and Progress from 1918 – 2020.

Dr. Selanikio, who is a pediatrician at Georgetown University Hospital as well as a technologist, entrepreneur, emergency responder, TED speaker, and medical futurist, discussed the similarities between the 1918 and 2020 pandemics, the challenges faced by the medical communities of both pandemics, the history of the incorporation of science into medicine, and the changes that COVID-19 will force on current issues with healthcare information technology.

Dr. Selaniko addressed how “the most productive period for doctors in our history and in the history of humanity” was the move from customary non-scientific medicine to scientific medicine after the 1918 pandemic. This ignited 100 years of the greatest period of medicine science in the history of the world with an enormous increase in lifespan by conquering diseases like smallpox. “I believe that the same thing is going to happen. Once we combine the forces of our technology…I think that we can have a second 100 years of advances in medicine to rival that first one, perhaps even to exceed it.”

Following the Opening Ceremony, Dr. Selaniko held a Q&A session with attendees, which was moderated by Carla V. Valenzuela, MD, Chair of the Section for Residents and Fellows-in-Training.

Intertwined in the remarks, attendees got a first look at the debut of three new videos that highlighted the uniqueness of the specialty, especially in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The following videos were presented and will be available on the Academy’s website at www.entnet.org and on the Academy’s YouTube channel in the near future:

  • Otolaryngology during COVID-19: You Are Here for the World
  • COVID-19: The Academy Is Here for You
  • OTO Logic: Unveiling Your NEW Otolaryngology Education Network

The Opening Ceremony will be available to watch on demand starting Tuesday, September 15, through the Education and Live Events section of the Virtual Annual Meeting Platform.