As I was entering into the Anaheim downtown area, I was just mesmerized by people walking with red tags around their necks bringing a smile onto my face, giving me a sense that they all belong to the same community as me, the scientific community. There are so many emotions running inside me, contemplating how I am going to make most of out of my next 3 days, rejuvenating to see such young talent around me and inspired to meet renowned researchers in the field of cardiology whose work I have been reading for many years. Scientific meetings are the best platform to foster new ideas, raise awareness and make your acquaintances beyond your geographical scope and there is no better way than AHA meeting. By bringing together basic researchers, scientists, and clinicians, AHA is providing the biggest platform to take the research from bench to bedside.
While everyone was talking research, one thing I was captivated was the acknowledgment that women were granted in this place. When women are constantly fighting about equal rights in workplace and equal wages as men, AHA is recognizing women with various achievement awards and named lectures. My highlight of yesterday was the American Heart Association Woman of Distinction Award for outstanding dedication to heart failure awareness which was presented to Queen Latifah during the opening ceremony. Singer, songwriter Queen Latifah inspired by her mother Rita Owens has contributed significantly in ‘Rise above heart failure’ movement and thus educating the community regarding symptoms and treatments of the condition and providing awareness to lead a healthier lifestyle. I personally being a fan of Queen Latifah’s work was delighted to see her getting honored at such a reputed conference. As a woman myself, one thing which made me swell with pride was that the presenter of the award was another renowned woman entrepreneur Nancy Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the AHA/ASA. AHA is breaking boundaries and constantly fighting against gender disparities between women and men by providing equal opportunities for women at places of work and in their levels of responsibility. In the field of medicine, AHA also recognizes outstanding academic and clinical performance in women cardiology fellows during cardiovascular-related specialty training by providing Women in cardiology excellence trainee awards for excellence. Other than the awards and honors, AHA also nurturing a council on Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology (ATVB) Women’s Leadership Committee (WLC) encouraging women’s involvement in science by providing visibility and engagement of women in ATVB activities, meetings and leadership within and outside the ATVB council. AHA scientific sessions is promoting such initiatives by hosting WLC luncheons which I am excited to attend this afternoon.
Despite women pursuing careers in science are all too aware they remain underrepresentation in the field of science due to persisting gender inequality often which severely limits them from reaching their goals. AHA sessions provide great hopes to resolve this global concern by recognizing the challenges that women face in science, encouraging leadership programs and providing a platform that advances women’s scientific careers at all stages. I am proud of being part of such community and looking forward to exploring more aspects of AHA during my stay in Anaheim.
Keerat Kaur is a postdoctoral fellow at Icahn school of Medicine at Mount Sinai in department of cardiology, NY. Her research focuses on reprogramming non-cardiacmyocytes to cardiomyocytes using modified mRNA approach.