First Contact: First Time ENDO 2022 Attendees Share Their Experiences

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Endocrine News chats with a group of members whose trip to Atlanta had quite an impact on them as they experienced their very first ENDO. Find out what their takeaways were from ENDO 2022, what surprised them the most, their favorite sessions, and why they would recommend it to colleagues.

For so many attendees in Atlanta, Ga., ENDO 2022 was more than an annual conference, it was a homecoming! After having not seen one another since ENDO 2019 in New Orleans, La., it was remarkable to see – and often hear! – the reunions of friends and colleagues as they discovered each other in corridors, sessions, exhibits and even coffee shops and hotel lobbies!

For these repeat ENDO attendees, ENDO 2022 was more like a family reunion of sorts, which is apt considering so many of the attendees have made the Endocrine Society their professional home so it only makes sense that the first time they convene would have an extra layer of joy on top of the usual hustle and bustle of a typical ENDO meeting.

The attendees and faculty of the Early Career Forum, an all-day event that took place one day before ENDO 2022 got underway.

Veteran attendees have long anticipated these annual meetings, planned vacations to coincide with or even avoid, and some have even postponed or rescheduled other events just to make sure they would be available to attend ENDO once again. But ENDO 2022 was anything but typical for first-time attendees in Atlanta.

Every year there are a significant number of young professionals who experience ENDO for the first time and see for themselves not only what ENDO has to offer for them so early in their endocrine careers, but how the Endocrine Society can guide them throughout their entire professional lives. For many, an ENDO experience can be a deciding factor on the course their careers, the course of their research, the information they learn, as well as the connections they make.

Not surprisingly, most first-time attendees were a part of the Early Career Forum that took place on Friday June 10, and that’s where we caught up with them to get their thoughts about ENDO, what influenced them the most, and what they learned while they were in Atlanta. Answering our questions are Jewel Banik a PhD candidate at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, Ark.; Diana Dimayuga, an endocrinology fellow at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Global City, Philippines; Ashley Herdman, a PhD candidate at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, Ark.; and Jacob Lloyd, MD, internal medicine resident, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center- Mercy Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Endocrine News: What made you decide to come to ENDO 2022?

Banik: ENDO is our lab’s flagship conference as we study the pituitary gland, the master endocrine gland. We have been desperately looking for an in-person ENDO meeting since the pandemic started, and ENDO 2022 was just like that.

Dimayuga: As an endocrine fellow, I wanted to maximize my learning while in my training so that I could hear the latest updates directly from the experts. ENDO 2022 was enticing in that it is organized by a renowned society and it is one of the largest of its kind in the world. The distance I would have to travel, and the cost discouraged me, but the prospect of attending together with other first-timers from my home country and participating in a prestigious conference had me seeing this through.

Herdman: I wanted to be able to present my work, learn more about ongoing research, and network with others in our field. There have been so many scientists I’ve met virtually through ENDO in the past year, and it was great to be able to meet in person!

Lloyd: As an aspiring endocrinologist, I had always wanted to attend the ENDO conference. My case reports got accepted for poster presentation at ENDO 20222 and I was excited to attend the conference this year.

EN: What really surprised you about the ENDO experience?

Banik: The versatility of the meeting. I am glad that ENDO cares about people from all backgrounds and everywhere. I never imagined I would make some new friends who were from Europe and Latin America at ENDO.

Dimayuga: I was pleasantly surprised at the wealth of networking events and opportunities, and the inclusivity even for junior doctors like me. It didn’t matter where you come from or your level of experience, in each day there was a chance to connect with people from different backgrounds. The many cute freebies at the Endocrine Society booth surprised me too – there was a light and fun side to this serious conference after all.

Herdman: It was such a pleasant surprise how friendly and open everyone was. This was my first conference as a graduate student, and I was a little nervous about meeting so many scientists whose papers I’ve read and whose work I admire. No matter the position – PI, postdoc, student – everyone was so incredibly kind and excited to connect. It was a really wonderful experience, especially after these past few years of mostly virtual interactions.

Lloyd: The sheer magnitude of the event and the wide range of experts in the field I got to meet.

EN: What session or sessions really “wowed” you at ENDO 2022?

Banik: Professional development workshops! As a fourth-year PhD student, these workshops were tremendously helpful as they helped me enrich the professional skills required for my next position, whether in academia or industry. In addition, they were information rich with first-hand experiences from the panelists.

Dimayuga: The endocrine debates were phenomenal. It was my first time to attend a session in that format. The topics, discussion, and execution of the session were top notch. Hearing from the exact proponent of radiofrequency ablation for adrenal adenoma himself debating about their own technique made it more awe-inspiring. Even as an audience member, these debates made me think that both sides had valid arguments. It broadened my perspective on patient care.

Jacob Lloyd, MD, listens intently to one of the sessions at the Early Career Forum.

Herdman: I really enjoyed the symposia sessions! It was so interesting to hear about the work that labs have done over the course of a few years that has caused us to rethink basic science concepts. My favorite session was “Recent Advances in Gonadotropin Signaling and Therapy.” I learned so much and have not been able to stop thinking about some of the topics since I returned home!

Lloyd: The Early Career Forum, “Choosing Cholesterol-lowering Medications in Patients with Liver disease,” “Beginner’s Guide to Gender-Affirming Hormone Therapy” were very interesting sessions.

EN: Did anything you saw or heard at ENDO 2022 have an impact on your future career aspirations?

Banik: I liked the special interest groups (SIG) gatherings where you meet people according to your interests. I was fortunate to meet a few people I now consider my career mentors.

Dimayuga: Before attending ENDO 2022, I didn’t realize the many benefits that patients can get from advancements in diabetes technology and glucose monitoring. In my country, most of the technologies that were presented in ENDO 2022, such as closed loop insulin pumps and CGM, are not yet available. Seeing these technologies and realizing their potential inspired me to consider further training on these so that one day I can help make them available for patients in the Philippines.

Herdman: The further I get into my PhD program, the more confused I seem to be becoming about what the next step in my career will be. I attended the Early Career Forum which was very helpful and geared towards careers in academia. I really enjoyed talking to several of the pharmaceutical and biotech companies in the Exhibit Hall as well! As someone who doesn’t have a lot of connections to industry at the moment, it was great to be able to learn more about different companies and what research careers they offer.

Lloyd: The advances that are being made in field of bone metabolism got me interested and excited to learn more about this and potentially pursue a research study in this area in the future.

EN: Did you learn anything at ENDO 2022 that you can use daily?

Banik: One of the sessions I attended was about “Building your personal brand through social media,” where Dr. Joy Wu discussed how we could utilize Twitter as a platform for professional branding. I use some of the tips daily to build up my professional brand.

Attending ENDO 2022 was not all sitting in sessions or presenting research.
(l to r): Jewel Banik and Ashley Herdman checked out
the Georgia Aquarium with their colleagues Angela Odle, PhD, Sophia Tomlinson, Juchan Lim, and Tiffany Miles, PhD.

Dimayuga: ENDO 2022 had every color of the rainbow, from basic to clinical, but some of my greatest learning came from the clinical pearls and the practical sessions. As a trainee, osteoporosis is one of the topics I had difficulty with as some cases I encountered did not jigsaw-fit with those described in the guidelines. The session on individualization of treatment of osteoporosis clarified that for me, tackling exactly those clinical scenarios where the guidelines were silent on and how to best manage them. It was a simple and practical presentation, yet I found myself having a lot of take-home points in a short amount of time.

Herdman: I learned that most scientists are open to connecting and collaborating. In the future, I’ll definitely feel more comfortable reaching out to other people in the field!

Lloyd: The session on disparities in diabetes care gave me a different perspective and insight into the social aspects I should be thinking of when taking care of patients with diabetes.

EN: What would you say to one of your colleagues who was on the fence about attending next year’s ENDO?

Banik: Engage in conversation with people whether you know them or not. It is an asymmetric opportunity. There is no harm in doing that. The unknown person next to you might be your next advisor, next colleague, or next collaborator. Nobody knows! I would also highly recommend attending the professional development workshops. These sessions are hubs for professional networking. And, of course, do not forget to explore the host city.

Dimayuga: For trainees and early career physicians like me, if you ever get a chance to attend ENDO, take it. The challenges I faced were eclipsed by the many benefits I reaped in joining the conference. Beyond the learning, ENDO is about joining a community of people who share the same passion for endocrinology as you do. Through the conference, you will be inspired to be like them, and I am certain that when you go home you will be a better endocrinologist.

Herdman: I would say it’s absolutely worth attending. ENDO was so refreshing and reminded me of how much I love research. Sometimes it can be really helpful to get out of the lab and connect with other scientists, learn about new topics, and have the opportunity to share your research.

Lloyd: I would definitely encourage them to attend ENDO in person. It would be a great opportunity for anyone who is in practice or aspiring to be an endocrinologist, to meet providers and leaders in the field, connect with people who share similar interests, and learn about the opportunities and advances that are being made in the field.

Newman is the executive editor of Endocrine News. ENDO 2022 marked his seventh in-person Endocrine Society annual conference.

The Endocrine Society’s immediate past-president Carol H. Wysham, MD, (center) caught up with first-time attendee Diana Dimayuga (second from right), as well as (l to r) Rainer Wandrew Po, Marion Sarigumba, Mariel Enverga, and Marion Sarigumba.

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