From the 2006 SMFM Program Chair

      Dear Colleagues and Friends,
      I am honored to serve as the Program Chair for this year's 26th Annual Meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, and to have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the previous Program Chairs whose combined visions made this meeting so successful. As we start the second quarter century in our Society's existence, the number of abstracts submitted continues to rise, including an increasing number from outside the United States, making our meeting one of the largest national and international scientific gatherings dedicated to Maternal and Fetal Medicine. This year, we had 1059 abstracts submitted, of which 86 were accepted for oral presentations and over 600 were accepted for poster presentations. I would like to thank all those who submitted their work and wish we were able to accept more abstracts. Because of the high quality of the submissions, we increased the number of oral concurrent sessions but were still limited by time and space, particularly for the poster sessions. Just as an indication of the quality of abstract submissions, the threshold score for acceptance this year was several points higher than previous years. It was also highly satisfying to see a great number of randomized trials and long-term follow up studies, as well as abstracts submitted by medical students, residents and fellows. In addition to the eight oral presentations in the Fellows Plenary Session, there are 17 oral concurrent presentations by investigators in training. Included among the fellows' presentations are outstanding studies by the SMFM/AAOGF Scholars who are supported by contributions from the Society and its members. I am confident that the scientific future of our specialty is bright. Another notable event is the number of abstracts from community practices, and studies relating to topics of practical interest to our members such as quality of Maternal-Fetal Medicine care and medical liability issues. My heartfelt gratitude goes to all the investigators who chose our Society to submit their work and the reviewers who responded with enthusiasm.
      The scientific program this year is also complemented by excellent workshops, postgraduate courses, scientific forums, special interest groups, and Masters' Series Luncheon Roundtables. The pre- and post-meeting workshops have become a regular staple of the Annual Meeting which now covers an entire week. The successful collaboration started last year between SMFM and the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology (SOAP) and the North American Society of Obstetrical Medicine (NASOM) returns this year with a pre-meeting workshop and a postgraduate course, respectively. Dr. Karin Nelson will reprise her outstanding course which was oversold last year. There will also be two opportunities for registrants to attend the didactic sessions for nuchal translucency measurement and first trimester prenatal diagnosis, a required step for those without prior training in obtaining a certificate of satisfactory completion from the Nuchal Translucency Education and Quality Review Program of the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Foundation. I would like to thank all the speakers involved in these outstanding educational activities.
      Our meeting this year is again co-sponsored by the March of Dimes. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will use this year's meeting to kickoff their campaign to increase awareness of the importance of early prenatal HIV testing. In addition, a large number of patrons and benefactors continue to participate in the SMFM Corporate Partnership Program. That such well-established entities choose to partner with us is a testament to the strength of our Society, and is in no small part the result of the effort of the SMFM staff, particularly Julie Miller, our Director of Development.
      I would like to thank my colleagues on the Program Committee, Nancy Chescheir (Poster Chair), Brian Mercer (Postgraduate Course Chair), Robin Field (Scientific Forum Chair), and Dibe Martin (Local Arrangements Chair). This year's program was a shared vision resulting from multiple e-mails and telephone conferences. I would also like to thank Dr. Haywood Brown who, four years ago, gave me the privilege of serving as the Program Chair. I am indebted to Past President Jef Ferguson, current President Michael Nageotte, and President-Elect, as well as last year's Program Chair, Roger Newman who guided me through this formative process. I also gained from the wisdom and foresight of the many Board members I had the privilege of working with, both active and ad-hoc. Lastly, the meeting would not have been possible without the dedication of the Society's Executive Director, Patricia Stahr. She was there at every step during this challenging process and provided me with much needed advice and encouragement. Don't try this without her.
      Serving as the Program Chair has been a highlight of my academic career that I will cherish forever. I have a long list of individuals to thank for my career path, but I would like to single out Michael Belfort who started it all, Ken Moise who shepherded me through the formative period, and Gary Hankins and Garland Anderson whose continued mentoring and support allowed me to live my dream. When I asked Pat Stahr to summarize her feeling about the 26th Annual Meeting (a tradition started unknowingly by last year's Program Chair Roger Newman), she responded “The Bain de Soleil coated sun worshipers on South Beach won't be the only thing sizzling in Miami in February. This year's meeting program is so hot, you'll need your SPF 45.”
      It has been a privilege serving as the Program Chair. I sincerely hope you enjoy this outstanding meeting and look forward to meeting each one of you. Please let me know what we can do to make it better.
      George R. Saade, MD