Did you attend the gala in Montreal? No, not the Formula One Ball, which I hear was a real snooze. I’m talking about the 2 nd Annual ASE Foundation Awards Gala at our Annual Scientific Sessions, where attendees learned many things, including the following: the ASE needs a budget for singing lessons, and I can’t dance. But we were really there to celebrate the lives and achievements of our awardees: Feigenbaum Lecturer, Judy Hung; Pediatric Founder’s Award, James Huhta; Meritorious Service Award to our dedicated attorney, Diane Millman; Sonographer Lifetime Achievement Award, David Adams; and the Popp Excellence in Teaching Award, Jonathan Lindner who then proceeded to run up the score by mentoring the winner of the young investigator competition, Scott Chadderdon, whose fascinating basic research showed that being a couch potato is as bad for monkeys as it is for people. A surprise award went to Mary Alice Dilday, ASE’s Vice President of Internal Relations, for 25 years of her tireless service to our society. Finally it was time for the main event: the presentation of the Physician Lifetime Achievement Award to Pravin Shah, our venerable “Sultan of SAM”, who led us through a memorable tour of the early days of echo.
It was a great evening of fun and celebration for the 270 of us who gathered in the historical ballrooms of Le Windsor, but the best part was the fact that we raised over $30,000 for the ASE Foundation! This is even more than was raised last year, from which ASE was able to fund an additional Career Development Grant, supporting Ben A. Lin, MD, PhD of Yale University for his project, “Analysis of Regional Myocardial Strain and Vortical Flow Dynamics as Predictors of Left Ventricular Remodeling after Infarction.” Through last year’s funding, Dr. Lin has already completed research resulting in a featured oral abstract presentation at this year’s meeting describing techniques for extracting regional strain from radio frequency ultrasound signals. Pretty impressive return on investment from a night of celebration!
The funding from this year’s gala is especially important now as we are in the midst of a historic annual appeal for the Foundation, with an ambitious goal to raise $500,000 before the end of 2011. That’s a lot of money and we all will need to contribute to make this possible. I suspect many of you have questions as to just what the Foundation is and what it does beyond the Society, which you support with your member dues. The Foundation was established some years ago to support and augment ASE’s educational, training, and outreach missions. As a charitable organization (all contributions are tax-deductible), the Foundation cannot conduct lobbying or other advocacy work, but just about everything else is fair game.
We have targeted three broad areas as top priorities for the current annual appeal: career development and scholarship grants, collaborative forums, and development and dissemination of our guidelines and standards. Career development support would include research grants such as Dr. Lin’s and also the sonographer student scholarships, those fresh, eager students you saw on-stage at the business meeting in Montreal. Giving these students the chance to come to the ASE meeting is the surest way to set them on a long path of career growth and service to the field. In the realm of collaborative forums, a key example is the research and technology retreat held last November, which brought clinical and basic researchers together with scientists from ultrasound and contrast companies to plot a path for the next decade. This forum resulted in the publication of a research roadmap in JASE this April. ASE is already involved with another collaborative forum with the European Association of Echocardiography and many companies to improve standardization and interoperability in strain measurements (more on this in next month’s column). Your contributions to the Foundation help assure that this important work will continue. Finally, I’m sure you are all aware of the important guidelines that the Society issues, but did you know that some are now available as iPhone and iPad apps? We’ve also begun translating them into Spanish and Chinese, so we can achieve world-wide standardization in echocardiography. It’s all part of Foundation strategy to make our guidelines available wherever and however people may need them.
So, please, please consider the ASE Foundation annual appeal, which is being spearheaded by Past-president Tom Ryan. You can learn more about this by clicking the Foundation link on asecho.org . While we need leadership level grants (and you will find most of our past-presidents and board members giving generously), the most important need is broad participation from our membership. As we look to even more ambitious goals to support the Foundation’s mission, we know that corporate and foundation granting agencies look to the degree of member participation in making their funding decisions. Please give generously: you’ll feel better for it, knowing there will be more of those smiling student faces at next year’s meeting.
As for next year’s gala, it promises to be bigger and better than ever as we gather to celebrate the past, present, and future. I hope even more of you will be able to join us there. And if you’re wondering what the singing was all about, it was an ASE gala song, sung to Pomp and Circumstance (the standard graduation tune). The final verse is at the end of this column. My wife Yngvil and I wrote the words, with the assistance of others, based on a Norwegian tradition of ending gala dinners with a celebratory song (hence, the skol at the end). Will we do it again next year? Not sure; you’ll just have to come to find out!