The Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) 2023 Meeting will take place April 27–May 1 in Washington, D.C., with an extensive list of researchers slated to present their work on behalf of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute. Our research community is also fortunate to be represented by Todd Florin, MD, MSCE, who is presently serving on the PAS board of directors. Dr. Florin is an Attending Physician and the Director of the Grainger Research Program in Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Lurie Children’s and is a nationally recognized expert in the field of respiratory infectious diseases in the acute care setting. In his role with the PAS board of directors, he contributes to the development and execution of a strategic plan to elevate PAS as the premier scholarly pediatric health meeting in North America.

In this Q&A, Dr. Florin shares some of the exciting activities that attendees can expect at this year’s PAS meeting.

Q: What will people who are at different stages of their research journey gain from attending the PAS 2023 Meeting?

A: There truly is something for everyone at the PAS Meeting. It is an academic pediatrics playground, connecting thousands of pediatricians and other health care providers worldwide. This international gathering offers opportunities for a global audience of physician-scientists, clinicians, and educators to share research, explore new ideas, build career opportunities, and collaborate on future projects. Presentations cover issues of interest to generalists as well as topics critical to a wide array of specialty and sub-specialty areas. The PAS Meeting is produced through the partnership of four leading pediatric associations: the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Academic Pediatrics Association (APA), the American Pediatric Society (APS), and the Society for Pediatric Research (SPR). Trainees and early career faculty benefit from networking, presenting their work and receiving feedback from experienced researchers in their field, and attending workshops on essential academic career skills and cutting-edge scholarly sessions. Trainees, in particular, have access to the ‘trainee zone,’ a trainee-only space for them to relax and network over a cup of coffee with other trainees from across the country. More experienced faculty benefit from opportunities to mentor younger and newer pediatric educators and scientists, present their research, network with their peers who are leading the way in pediatric research, and connect with their professional societies through plenary sessions and more informal receptions and special interest groups. And, of course, everyone loves catching up with old friends.

Q: What are some topics and issues in pediatric research that the PAS has determined are important and will put front-and-center at this year’s meeting and why were they chosen?

A: The three themes for this year’s meeting are (1) the impact of policies on health and research, (2) addressing and overcoming racism in clinical care and research, and (3) science is real: research, misinformation, and trust. Many of the sessions at the meeting were selected with these themes in mind, as they represent three of the most important health challenges that pediatricians, pediatrician-scientists, and our patients are currently facing. I am really excited for our opening keynote speaker, Wanda Barfield, MD, MPH, FAAP. Dr. Barfield is the Director of the Division of Reproductive Health with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and a retired Rear Admiral (Assistant Surgeon General) in the U.S. Public Health Service.

Q: What have you gained as a member of the PAS board of directors?

A: Serving on the PAS board of directors has been such an honor and a rich learning experience for me. It is an opportunity to work with some amazing and diverse colleagues to push forward the mission of PAS and continue to allow the meeting and partnerships between the four partner societies (APA, AAP, APS, and SPR) to grow. We are currently undergoing strategic planning to look forward to the next chapter in the journey of the PAS, which has been really exciting.

Q: How is PAS working with its partner organizations to increase the number of people who choose to pursue pediatric research?

A: There are many ways that PAS and its partner organizations are growing, supporting, and mentoring those who pursue a career in pediatric research. Each partner society has mentorship and career development programs focused on early career pediatric scientists. For example, SPR and APS have partnered to run Journeys & Frontiers in Pediatric Research. The program features small cohorts of early career pediatrician-scientists who are nominated by leadership at their institutions and meet monthly over the course of a year to present their research and gain insights in professional development from each other and two experienced and established pediatric scientists. This model program encourages and supports promising early career investigators in pediatrics by offering inspiring career journey stories, career development mentoring, feedback on research, and networking with experienced peers in academic medicine. These small group sessions are supplemented by keynote sessions by superstar academic pediatricians providing perspectives on their career journeys. The program culminates with an in-person reception at the PAS Meeting. This is just one example of career development programs to build the pediatric research workforce by the PAS and partner societies.