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AAD Innovation Academy 2020 canceled

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After weighing the factors surrounding holding this year’s Innovation Academy meeting in Seattle, originally scheduled for August 13-16, the Board made the difficult decision to cancel the meeting. We have been tracking availability of faculty and ongoing travel restrictions by medical institutions, as well as governmental orders, which largely remain unchanged. Many of the travel bans from medical institutions will continue even after the lifting of relevant government orders. These factors have negatively impacted our ability to hold the meeting as planned.

Additionally, we originally structured the Innovation Academy as a highly interactive, dynamic event where attendees could participate in an immersive learning environment. We planned to host at least 3,000 dermatologists from across the country and around the globe. However, social distancing restrictions would likely force us to cap registration. We would need to significantly alter networking and social events and hands-on procedural skills sessions that require close proximity. Compromising the purpose of these interactive experiences would negate the valuable interactive learning experience that empowers members to provide compassionate care to patients.

Most importantly, the Academy focuses primarily on the health and safety of its members and other attendees at any event we hold. In addition to the travel ban, there is concern whether convening 3,000 individuals at this meeting is in the best interest of public health. Is it prudent for us to attend a meeting amid the coronavirus pandemic, possibly acquire infection, and then return to our communities and possibly infect others? With dermatology offices slowly reopening as stay-at-home orders are lifted, should dermatologists attend this meeting in lieu of reorienting their practices to safely see patients? I certainly wish these were questions that we did not have to grapple with as an organization. However, my number one priority is in alignment with that of the Academy – to be respectful of our physicians’ need to be available to and healthy for their patients and communities.

In closing, I want to remind you that foremost in our decision is AAD’s core purpose and mission: advancing excellence in dermatology. We remain excited by the vision set forth for the Innovation Academy and look forward to the day when we can announce our plans to reschedule.


Bruce H. Thiers MD, FAAD
AAD President