Glenn Jacobowitz, MD – President’s Message
It is my honor and privilege to serve as the 36th President of the American Venous Forum (AVF). As an active member in this society, I have watched it grow significantly in size and scope over the past 15 years. Since its inception in 1987, the AVF has been the torch bearer for the treatment of venous and lymphatic disease, specifically with respect to research and science that have been the foundation of evidence-based treatments. The AVF remains true to this core, but it has also expanded its reach over time.
Currently, active membership is at an all-time high of 855 members– with steady increases over each of the past 4 years. This includes physicians, trainees, allied health professionals, and industry partners. The membership committee is to be congratulated as this past year the AVF added 164 new members– evidence of the value and importance of our society. It is this fantastic membership that are the focus and engine that drive the AVF, with 21 committees, more than 140 meetings, 175 committee members, and almost 1600 meeting hours this past year.
A change in the composition of our membership is that now approximately one-fourth are international members, which is a reflection on the increasingly global reach of AVF. The past several years, under the leadership of Bill Marston and Tony Gasparis before him and our Executive Director John Forbes, the AVF has expanded its international presence through webinars; meeting exchange programs; a completely revised, more complete, and user-friendly website; digital media platforms; and our newsletter, Vein Specialist. Educational offerings have become year-round allowing interaction with members and non-members alike beyond our outstanding annual meeting. These have included early career training programs, webinars, and planned symposia with partners in China, Egypt, Europe, and South America.
As always, our committees remain vital to our mission advancement. We have restructured and streamlined the committee organization for 2023. These committees; the members who volunteer their time to serve on them; and our dedicated administration that oversees and organizes the myriad groups that remain crucial to our mission allow us to maintain an extensive and efficient scope of activity. Committees on guidelines, early career development, health policy, ethics, patient education and a new continuing education committee focused on physician education are just a few that support our activities. A new Documents Review Committee was established in 2022 to assist in final preparation of AVF-developed documents for publication as well as documents submitted for AVF review and support. This has included AVF/SVS/AVLS varicose vein guidelines; AVF/SVS guidelines for upper extremity DVT; and proposed revised guidelines on the management of venous ulcers.
The program committee has worked tirelessly this past year under the leadership of Mikel Sadek as Chair, with many innovative changes to the structure of the meeting. Abstract quality for this past meeting was superb–again a reflection that the annual meeting and our aptly named society are a pre-eminent forum for the presentation of advances in the treatment of venous disease. This strong and vital committee will be under the leadership of Arjun Jayaraj for our 2024 meeting in Tampa, Florida.
Continued focus on our research efforts has included a research webinar, as well as our ongoing grant activity. This past year we conducted the first AVF Research Webinar and Research Retreat, both led by members of our research council. Our research grant format has also recently evolved and expanded to include:
- The AVF-Jobst Clinical Research Grant, which provides an $85,000 grant over 2 years for original, clinical research in venous diseases, lymphatic diseases, or lipedema with an emphasis on prevention of disease and its progression and diagnosis of disease, as well as the science of management of the above conditions, especially with compression therapy.
- The AVF -BSCI Translational Research Grant, which provides an $85,000 grant over 2 years for an original, translational research project in venous disease addressing non-thrombotic venous obstruction, venous thromboembolism, and superficial venous insufficiency.
- The AVF-NIH/NHLBI Grant, which invites members who have been awarded an NHLBI K08 or K23 award for research with importance to venous or lymphatic disease to apply for up to $25,000 in supplemental funding.
- The AVF Basic Science Research Grant, which is a new grant established in 2023 and funded by the AVF. This grant will provide a 1-year, $15,000 grant for an original research project in venous disease addressing venous or lymphatic physiology and pathologies, including but not limited to, thrombosis, valvular dysfunction, and ulceration.
- The AVF-Janssen Fellowship, sponsored by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, which provided a $50,000 fellowship to develop new mechanisms for data collection to enhance the Caprini Risk Score (CRS) and reduce the incidence of venous thromboembolism (VTE) leading to fatal pulmonary emboli (PE), the leading preventable cause of death in hospitalized patients.
In addition, we continue to support the AVF-Juzo Traveling Fellowship Award and have been able to award 15 physician-in-training scholarships for the 2022 and 2023 Annual Meetings (10 US and 5 international in each year).
The AVF has taken research another step further this past year by initiating development of AVF research infrastructure with Dr Brajesh Lal and his team, undertaking a study on great saphenous vein junctional reflux and symptom severity, recruiting funding resources from our industry partners, as well as receiving significant input from AVF members and their institutions as investigation sites. Additional initiatives are currently being formulated for 2024, including a study on the clinical relevance and outcomes of reflux in the anterior accessory great saphenous vein.
Many of the above initiatives are made possible not only by our own financial stability and leadership, but also through collaboration with industry. Our newly restructured Mission Advancement Committee will now oversee these relationships which help keep AVF at the forefront of scholarship and education.
Our strategic goals remain centered around the pillars of leadership, membership, research, education, and financial stability. Diversification of funding sources well beyond the annual meeting with continued attention to sound investments has expanded our ability to provide funds for strategic initiatives that benefit our members and the patients we serve.
We have achieved all objectives outlined in a strategic retreat 5 years ago, but have no intention of resting on our laurels as we plan another strategic retreat this year for our next 5-year plan by re-examining the changing environment of the treatment of venous and lymphatic disease and how we can meet the needs of our members. This will include attention to ongoing efforts and collaboration with other societies that are stakeholders in venous disease and wound care, including the Society for Vascular Surgery and the American Vein and Lymphatic Society.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) continued to remain fundamental to our core values. In 2023, a new ad hoc DEI committee was established, co-chaired by Drs Ruth Bush and Kathleen Ozsvath. This committee has examined all aspects of AVF programs, committee structures, operations, and initiatives to further support our commitment to our DEI goals. Specific sessions in the 2023 meeting focused on disparities in care of venous patients as well as on other relevant topics. I am pleased to announce that as of 2023 the DEI committee has become a full standing committee of the AVF and will continue its key input into our leadership, planning, and programs on a permanent basis.
As always, we stand on the shoulders of giants. Indeed, the recipients of the 2023 Founders Award were Drs Joanne Lohr and Elna Masuda -the first two female presidents of the AVF. The AVF would not be what it is today without its former officers and members who have worked tirelessly over many years. I am proud and humbled to help lead our mission forward and look eagerly toward working with our membership to continue the vast, important, and expanding work of the American Venous Forum.