After a four-year wait, the pulmonary hypertension (PH) community gathered in Atlanta for PHA 2022 International PH Conference and Scientific Sessions.

The June 10-12 event was the first PHA conference since 2018. Participants learned about medical advancements, gained tips for living with PH and connected with other patients and health care professionals. Of the attendees, 824 participated in person at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, while 45 participated via livestreamed videos.

“PHA 2022 feels a lot more intimate than other conferences,” says pulmonologist Meghan Cirulis, M.D. “It’s nice to see faces of people you know in the world of PH research and clinical practice.

“Having patients at the conference is unique. It’s nice to hear a different perspective [than from professionals] and have a checkpoint of reality from the patient side.”

Starting with the June 10 opening session, attendees were in for a weekend of surprises. Marcie McGregor, face of PHA’s spring fundraising campaign, filled in as keynote speaker for Linda Morgan, who health prevented her from attending.

Understanding PH classifications

During the medical update dinner, Todd Bull, M.D., and Stephen Mathai, M.D., M.H.S., discussed “Redefining Pulmonary Hypertension through Pulmonary Vascular Disease Phenomics (PVDomics).” The multi-center study, which aims to identify biomarkers to improve PH diagnosis and treatment, is funded by PHA and the National Institutes for Health National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Scientific Sessions

As patients attended breakout sessions related to life with PH, health care professionals attended sessions with a scientific focus. The Scientific Sessions focused on PH research, as did lightning-round presentations of research topics selected for the Poster Hall.  At industry-sponsored sessions, patients and health professionals learned about state-of-the-art technology and other PH advancements.

Patient-provider experiences

In the June 11 Journeys Lunch, patients and care team member pairs shared their stories. Michelle Liu, M.D., M.P.H., FAAOH and Stephen Walker, M.S., CRNP shared the experience of diagnosing Michelle’s daughter Esther and how they navigated her care journey together.

Allison Dsouza, B.S.N., R.N., and Elizabeth Colglazier, M.S., N.P. shared Allison’s journey from PH diagnosis to registered nurse, including job shadowing under Elizabeth. Kimberly Jackson, R.N., and Evelyn Mitchell shared Evelyn’s diagnosis journey and how their partnership inspired Kimberly to continue treating people with PH.

Celebrations

The much-anticipated Outstanding Member Award dinner brought celebrated people who go above and beyond to support and advocate for the PH community.

The Saturday Night Party and Fashion Show brought patients to center stage as they showed how they conceal or highlight their oxygen cannulas, mobility devices and medication pumps. Emceed by Doug Taylor and Nicole Creech, participants modeled outfits in four categories: formal wear, PH pride (zebra print and periwinkle), sports and superheroes.

After the fashion show, attendees celebrated a successful PHA 2022 during a party with dancing, games and photo booths.

What's Ahead

During the closing brunch June 12, Stephen Carter-Hicks treated attendees to two special performances. After performing “You’ll Never Be Alone” by Gerry and the Pacemakers, Stephen related his Broadway career, PH diagnosis and how he copes today. He then performed “Keep Hope Alive,” a song composed for him to sing at PHA 2020 before it was canceled because of the pandemic. See his PHA 2022 performance.

PHA 2022 ended with the passing of the gavel to the new PHA Board of Trustees Chair Tony Lahnston, who shared that the PHA 2024 International PH Conference and Scientific Sessions will be June 27-30, 2024, in Indianapolis.