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Hot Topics at ACR Convergence 2023

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As ACR Convergence 2023 fast approaches, it is clear that not only will the weather be hot(ter) in San Diego than in many points of origin for conference attendees, but the topics of many key sessions will be hot as well.

I am always enthralled by The Great Debate at the annual national meeting of the ACR, and this year is no exception. In 2017, tocilizumab was approved for the treatment of giant cell arteritis (GCA), and just this year, the FDA approved sarilumab for the treatment of polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR). However, clinicians still have many questions about how and when to initiate these medications for patients and how to balance these steroid-sparing treatments with concurrent treatment with corticosteroids. Thus, this year’s debate will focus on the following question: Should PMR and GCA be treated with advanced therapies at disease onset? The debaters this year are Dr. Robert Spiera and Dr. Philip Seo, both of whom are widely-respected experts in the field of vasculitis. I doubt that either debater will pull any punches, and the resulting discourse should be lively and extremely informative for the listening audience.

Moving to a different topic, the ACR has gone to great lengths to develop helpful guidelines for clinicians on a variety of subjects. At ACR Convergence 2023, several presenters will roll out the ACR Guidelines for the screening, monitoring, and treatment of systemic autoimmune rheumatic disease (SARD) associated interstitial lung disease (ILD). This is a fascinating and important topic, particularly as there is a great need to understand optimal treatments for patients with SARD associated ILD and to encourage collaboration between rheumatologists and pulmonologists. In addition to hearing the key recommendations, I am interested in the talk that will be presented by Dr. Elana Bernstein describing the development of these guidelines; indeed, I am always taken aback by how meticulous the ACR guideline authors are in reviewing the data and how arduous is the task of creating such guidelines.

Dr. John Stone has been involved in a great deal of paradigm-shifting research studies, including RAVE and GiACTA, and his work on IgG4-related disease — an extremely hot topic if you happen to talk to any pathologist these days — has been similarly significant. Dr. Stone was involved in the development of the 2019 ACR/EULAR classification criteria for IgG4-related disease, and he will now present a talk entitled, “Defining the Clinical Phenotype of IgG4- Related Disease: Lessons from the ACR/EULAR Classification Criteria.” This will be essential listening for many a rheumatologist who hopes to understand how the entity of IgG4-RD can be separated from the many potential mimicking conditions, including multisystem Castleman’s disease, sarcoidosis, granulomatosis with polyangiitis, and various malignancies, to name a few. It is also frequently helpful to hear speakers discuss the proper use of classification criteria, which in truth are developed for research purposes rather than routine clinical practice.

Finally, I am very honored to be a panelist in a session that I think will be of great interest to many attendees. The session is entitled, “The World is Your Oyster: Publishing Pearls from Editors.” The session will be a moderated panel discussion on topics near and dear to most trainees and academics, such as the most common mistakes that authors make when seeking to publish their work, high-yield tips for impressing editors, and the planning and execution of superior academic writing. I feel honored to be on stage with such luminaries as Dr. Marcy Bolster and Dr. Marian Hannan and it should be a great session with plenty of time for audience questions.

Like every year, I anticipate having more sessions that I would love to attend than can be possibly seen in-person. However, this is a good problem to have and shows that, when it comes to rheumatology, the field only gets more and more interesting each year.

Dr. Liebowitz has no conflicts of interest to report.

Image by Denis Novikov / GettyImages

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