Off Script: Welcome to TCT 2017 in the Mile High City

Looking forward to globally collaborating and connecting at TCT’s first meeting in the rarified altitude of Denver, Colorado!

Woke up this morning to the crisp, blue sky of a gorgeous Denver morning with panoramic mountain views.  This year marks TCT’s first foray into Denver, a welcome half-way meeting point for both East Coast, West Coast and international attendees.  Denver, exactly one mile high as advertised, is nestled close to the spectacular Rockies and has much to offer.  It has developed recently into a superb conference destination and I’m admittedly looking forward to exploring the city as much as attending TCT. 

Started this year’s meeting with samplings of the afternoon’s United Nations regional sessions with representation from Europe, China, Japan, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and Middle East / Africa contingencies. Many rooms were packed, some standing room only, with sessions broadcast into overflow rooms.  As a busy, practicing US academic cardiologist, I find we are often too caught up and myopic in local practice patterns.  These sessions were an excellent reminder of the similarities our colleagues face globally, while highlighting the stark differences between international and US practice. 

In our current pervasive climate of turning away from globalization, it remains imperative we focus on global practice as we have much to learn from each other.   Although the FDA is about to unveil a comprehensive innovation initiative, we, in the US have been displaced from our initial position of leadership in the arena of interventional devices over the last few decades from well-meaning but overly conservative policies.  As a consequence, our colleagues in Europe, Asia and South America have done much of the heavy lifting; defining the fierce evolutionary space of successful device development and clinical adoption.

Having just returned from the Great Wall Cardiology meeting in Beijing and a short trip to Vietnam 2 weeks ago, I was struck by the phenomenal growth in skill and academic quality, helped by large procedural volumes, a pioneering spirit and access to new technology on display.  There has additionally been an exponential growth in the number and size of global interventional cardiology meetings as centers of excellence begin to establish regional dominance.  How will we continue to lead and stay relevant in this environment? 

TCT has had a strong, 29-year head start as the pre-eminent international interventional cardiology meeting.  It has been the platform for many game-changing late breaking trials and continues to innovate in engagement and education.  It has led the way in forging critical, bridging, global partnerships which have harnessed synergistic strengths in defining much of the modern clinical practice of interventional cardiology.  To stay ahead, it will have to continue to innovate to meet the challenge issued by my dad this morning (a first-time attendee from Malaysia): “Why come all the way here when I can watch it all on-line?” 

I for one, I am looking forward tomorrow to my virtually augmented hands-on training in trans-septal technique.  I’m looking forward to reconnecting and collaborating with my friends from around the world.  I’m looking forward to the opportunity to watch my fellows establish themselves and present their work.  I’m looking forward to the lively flash debates on controversial topics in interventional cardiology.  I’m looking forward to the voracious spectacle of the Shark Tank sessions. 

And yes, I’m looking forward to Tom Hanks.  

Welcome to TCT 2017 and I hope you have an exciting, engaging and educational meeting!  

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