Career Development : Calendar

2005 AHCJ Conference

03/31/05 - 04/03/05     Chapel Hill, NC

2005 AHCJ Conference Logo

Thursday, March 31

1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Early Bird Workshops (special registration required)

Getting the Big Picture (repeats Sunday)
Prevent Study "Whiplash" with Systematic Reviews

  • Hands-on with the Cochrane Library
  • Health Behavior News Service

Ray Moynihan Presents Evidence-Based Medicine II: What Works and What's It Worth?

5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Opening Reception

7 p.m. Keynote
Conflict of Interest in Biomedical Research: No Conflict, No Interest
Ross McKinney, Jr., M.D.
Vice Dean for Research
Duke University Medical Center

8:30 p.m. Screening of "Taking Back the Future: Living with M.S."
With documentary filmmaker Richard Pellegrino, M.D., a neurologist from Hot Springs, Ark.

Friday, April 1

Morning Field Trips
8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Noon - Exhibits open

Noon to 1:45 p.m.
News Events!

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Mark B. McClellan, M.D., Ph.D., will be holding a news conference to make an announcement of broad consumer interest. Dick Davidson, president of the American Hospital Association, and Gerry Shea, AFL-CIO director of governmental affairs, will also speak. The news conference is open to the media.

Following the news conference, McClellan will be speaking to a luncheon plenary session of the conference. The title of his speech is "Today's Medicare: Better Meeting America's Needs With Modern Benefits and Quality Care."

2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Plenary: Journal Editors Make Waves
With Jeff Drazen (New England Journal of Medicine), Cathy DeAngelis (Journal of the American Medical Association) and Harold Sox (Annals of Internal Medicine)

4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Breakout sessions

Medicaid: Changes and Consequences
The Last Hope: Stem-Cell Transplants For Sick Children
Freelancing: The Editor's Perspective
Talking About Risk
How I Got the Story: Pulitzer Prize winner Diana Sugg

6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Reception at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Sponsored by the New England Journal of Medicine

7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Fireside Chat
"The Future of 21st Century Medicine"
William Roper, M.D., MPH, CEO of the UNC Health Care System and Dean of the UNC School of Medicine

Saturday, April 2

7 a.m. to 8 a.m.
Fun Run

8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Morning Workshops

Lunch Plenary

Global View - Ranking Health and Health Care
Sponsored by the Commonwealth Fund

1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Annual Membership Meeting

3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Breakout sessions

5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Cash Bar/Silent Auction

6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Dinner Plenary
Dr. Donald Berwick, President and CEO, Institute for Healthcare Improvement

Sunday, April 3

8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Breakout Sessions

Noon to 1:30 p.m.
Plenary Brunch
What's Wrong With Health Care
Investigative Reporters Donald Barlett and James Steele

1:30 p.m. - Exhibits close

2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Getting the Big Picture II (special registration required)
Prevent Study "Whiplash" with Systematic Reviews

Keynote Speakers

Conflict of Interest in Biomedical Research: No Conflict, No Interest
Ross McKinney, Jr., M.D.
Vice Dean for Research
Duke University Medical Center
Conflict of interest is one of the most important and complicated issues facing biomedical institutions and researchers in the current environment. It's an ancient problem - one of the reasons the Hippocratic Oath was written - but contemporary events have made it a particularly topical. Although patients may not realize it, every physician visit is an exercise in decision making affected by conflict of interest issues. On a larger scale, in December 2003 the Los Angeles Times published an article revealing the extent of conflict of interest among senior leadership figures at the NIH. Given the important role of NIH senior leadership in setting scientific priorities and policies, Congress began to focus attention. A Blue Ribbon panel convened by NIH Director Elias Zerhouni made recommendations for a new NIH conflict of interest policy during the summer of 2004, but their suggestions did not meet the expectations of an angry Congress, and in January 2005 Dr. Zerhouni was forced to institute draconian new policies affecting NIH personnel. The story is not yet over - will policies like those instituted at the NIH be forced downstream to academic medical centers in general? Can the NIH survive the stringent new rules with its scientific pre-eminence intact?

The talk will review fundamental principles in conflict of interest, some important illustrations, and a discussion of the current environment at the NIH and academic medical centers in general.

Field Trip Descriptions

Health impacts of air pollution, pesticides & carcinogens: NIEHS and EPA
The field trip on Friday, April 1, to the campuses of the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences and the Environmental Protection Agency will depart a half-hour early from the hotel (at 8 a.m.) to allow for adequate time for two panel discussions, Q&A and tours.
The tour will feature:

  • NIEHS Director Dr. Kenneth Olden, with remarks on health disparities
  • Air quality and our health: The science and regulation of air quality
  • Not child's play: Pesticides and carcinogens
  • Tours of NIEHS and EPA research lab

Speakers on the first panel include Dr. Dan Acosta, National Program director for air research at the Enviromental Protection Agency's Office of Research and Development, and Jeff Clark, director of policy analysis and communications in the EPA's Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards.

Speakers on the second panel include Dr. Linda Sheldon, acting director for Human Exposure and Atmospheric Sciences Division in the EPA's Office of Research and Development.

Duke Diet & Fitness Center
The Duke Diet & Fitness Center (DFC) is an intensive, medically-supervised residential weight management center that helps moderately and severely overweight people accomplish gradual and lasting weight loss and improve their quality of life. This field trip provides an inside look at this successful weight loss program and will include a question-and-answer session with discussion of possible story ideas, including national trends. Field trip participants will visit Duke's Stedman Nutrition Center, the site of many clinical weight loss trials, and meet with DFC staff and people who have lost weight at the DFC. Director Howard Eisenson, M.D.; health psychologist Martin Binks, Ph.D.; nutrition manager Elisabetta Politi, R.D.; fitness manager Gerald Endress and client relations coordinator Dina Lumia will attend.

UNC Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology
The Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology was established in 1979 and is broadly concerned with environmental impacts on human health and on respiratory health in particular. Its research programs are closely related to those of U.S. EPA's Human Studies Division located on the UNC-CH medical campus. The Center is associated with the Carolina Federation for Environmental Programs. AHCJ participants will see first-hand how multidisciplinary approaches are used to study the effects of inhaled agents on diseased and healthy human subjects following in vivo exposures in environmental chambers. They will also learn how human cells and cell lines are studied in vitro. More details on the center can be found at

VA Medical Center: Returning from Iraq
8:30 to 8:45 a.m. Welcome and introduction by Interim Director, Durham VA Medical Center
8:45 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. Overview of VA structure and programs plus Q&A
9:15 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. Women's Clinic issues and programs plus Q&A.
9:45 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Break
10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Post deployment mental health, MIRECC, and related issues plus Q&A
10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Combat injuries -- Richmond VA staff plus Q&A
11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Tour of hospital or continued Q&A

Session Descriptions

Getting the Big Picture
Tired of being whipsawed by one study that says "this" and then the next study says "that?" Help your readers and audiences cut through the hype and confusion of single-study. Explore the unique Cochrane Library of systematic reviews in a hands-on computer lab session. Discuss systematic reviews and how to use them in your coverage with Jessie Gruman, Ph.D., president of the Center for the Advancement of Health, which produces the Health Behavior News Service.

Evidence-Based Medicine II: What Works and What's it Worth?
Building on his popular Evidence-Based Medicine introductory workshops, journalist Ray Moynihan shows how evidence is being put to use to help consumers, health plans and public agencies get the biggest bang for their health care bucks. Learn how more people and systems, from Aussies to Oregonians, are demanding that drugs and procedures prove their worth. This workshop will open with an overview of evidence-based medicine and systematic reviews. Then participants will examine real-world examples to see how cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analyses are done. The case studies, general principals and potential sources for interviews and references will prepare participants to report the local angles and stories of these emerging trends in applying evidence-based medicine to everyday health care decisions.

Enjoy old friends or hang out with new ones. Here's the perfect time for cross-fertilization of ideas -- how to handle a difficult editor or how to be a difficult editor. Or, just socialize and find some dinner companions. Dozens of good restaurants are a short cab ride away. A list is in your folder.

Roundtable with Journal Editors: Find out what journal editors are thinking

Topics include public registry of drug trials, embargo breaks and conflicts of interest.

Breakout sessions:
The Last Hope: Stell-Cell Transplants for Sick Children
For children with rare genetic diseases, there are often no miracle cures and few options for treatment. Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg of Duke University Medical Center will discuss her efforts to use pediatric stem cell transplant to slow the progression of the diseases -- and the reluctance of some insurers to cover them. And Dr. Alan Fleischman of the New York Academy of Medicine will discuss the ethical issues in high-cost procedures that are, as yet, unproven.

Medicaid: Changes and Consequences
Medicaid is the nation's health and long-term care financing program for low-income Americans. It has 53 million enrollees and program spending of over $300 billion by the federal and state governments. Due to continuing budgetary pressures for states and a rising federal budget deficit, Medicaid has become the center of policy discussions as lawmakers examine ways to curb growing health care costs. This session will examine Medicaid's role in the American health care system and the challenges facing the program as both federal and state policymakers consider restructuring of the program to curb growth. The panelists will discuss the implications of changes to Medicaid and the impact on those the program serves.

  • Jeffrey McWaters; Founder, chairman and CEO; Virginia Beach-based Amerigroup Corp.
  • Cindy Mann; Research Professor; Georgetown University, Health Policy Institute
  • Barbara Edwards; Deputy Director; Ohio Health Plan,Department of Job & Family Services
  • Barbara Lyons; Deputy Director; Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured

Freelancing: The Editor's Perspective
When you're a freelancer, one of your key customers is your editor, often just a voice on the phone or an unseen hand typing e-mails. But ifyou don't keep this most important customer happy, you can kiss assignments goodbye. Learn what works and doesn't work when it comes to editors, what drives them crazy, what makes them cry with joy. Learn why they might take weeks to get back to you on queries, why the editor picks up the phone and calls you with an idea, and why they might change their names and disconnect their phones to get away from you. We gathered editors from nearly every avenue of consumer medical writing: business writing, general audience newspaper, trade newspaper, non-profit and consumer magazines to tell you what works and what doesn't. With David Olmos, editor, Los Angeles Times health page; Julie Bryant, managing editor, Atlanta Business Chronicle; Heidi Rosvold, editorial director, National Women's Health Resource Center; Sean Henahan, editor, Euro Times; and Christian Millman, senior editor/health, Better Homes and Gardens.

The incidence of pediatric obesity is rising, but few pediatricians, teachers and parents have the skills to recognize and treat overweight children. Terrill Bravender, M.D., a Duke pediatrician who specializes in obesity and childhood eating disorders, will discuss new models for treating children, such as a comprehensive intake/referral center and a parent training program, and why it's difficult to convince insurance companies to pay for such treatment. June Stevens, Ph.D., a nutrition epidemiologist at UNC, will address the causes, consequences and prevention of obesity in children.

Talking About Risk
The lingo, the pitfalls. A case study-how were Vioxx risks/benefits handled before withdrawal from the market.

Enjoy hors d'oeuvres at the UNC School of Journalism before the Fireside Chat.

Fireside Chat: "The Future of 21st Century Medicine"
William Roper, M.D., MPH, CEO of the UNC Health Care System and Dean of the UNC School of Medicine.

How They Got the Story: The Best Health Journalists of 2004
Learn tips and skills from the winners of AHCJ's First Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. Whether you're in newspapers, magazines, TV or radio, there's something for you to learn at this session. The awards of excellence will be given out at this conference.

Pitfalls of Health Writing
Part I: Statistics and spin: Jeanne Lenzer will review how statistics are spun and misunderstood. Using news releases, scientific studies, and their coverage by news media, Lenzer will show how data that actually convey bad or worrisome outcomes are sometimes universally reported as great news - due to errors made by both the study authors and journalists. Resources to aid in the identification of these biases will be discussed.

Part II: Mental Health and Psychiatric Drugs: Rob Waters, who says pharma industry spin reaches its highest form when applied to the marketing of psychiatric drugs, will talk about the need for skepticism when confronting claims that, for instance, antidepressants "work" as much as 70 percent of the time. He'll also talk about reporting on psychotherapy and the turf wars between psychotherapy, with its social-environmental perspective, and psychiatry, with its biomedical explanation of mental/behavioral disorders as chemical imbalances.

Blogging and e-Journalism
Want to understand why blogging is so hot? We'll learn by doing. Anton Zuiker, a freelancer and blogger, and Carla K. Johnson, of the Associated Press, will give a Blogging 101 history and review, a tutorial on creating your own weblog, and exploration of RSS syndication. Then we'll collaborate on a health weblog, posting items and resource links for a variety of beats.

Membership Meeting
Spend an hour getting an update on association activities. Find out what's next for the association. Offer your ideas on how we can better serve you.

Doing Terrific Online Research
A hands-on session in the computer lab with Elisabeth Donovan, New Research Editor at the Miami Herald, leading attendees through online databases, using public records to check into professional health care workers' backgrounds and how to retrieve medical journal articles.

The Next Pandemic: Flu and Emerging Infectious Diseases
UNC infectious disease researchers share their front-line experiences tracking down emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases such as SARS, influenza, HIV and malaria. With Myron Cohen, M.D., UNC Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Director of the UNC Center for Infectious Diseases.

Genomics -- How Journalists Can Crack the Code
Covering genetic medicine now goes far beyond lab coats and speculative experiments. Genetic care is quietly working its way into almost every facet of medicine, bringing new options for care and new dilemmas for patients. To step up your ability to report on this fast-changing field of health care, come talk about covering and understanding advances in genetic medicine. San Jose Mercury News writer April Lynch will share her recent newspaper series on everyday genetic care and introduce two leading genomics experts. Margaret Pericak-Vance, Ph.D., of the Duke Center for Human Genetics, and Kirk Wilhelmsen, Ph.D., of the Carolina Center for Genome Sciences at UNC, will discuss the latest genetic advances stemming from work in underlying disorders of the elderly, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and age-related macular degeneration. Additional topics will include the genetics of autism and addiction. They will conclude with a discussion of how the Human Genome Project has contributed to improving human health.

How to Get to Get Universal Health Coverage & Why the Covered Should Care
Duke health policy expert Christopher Conover, PhD, UNC's Dr. Thomas Ricketts, from the School of Public Health and School of Medicine, and Emory Health Care's Dr. Art Kellermann will discuss ways to achieve universal health coverage, the problems with the current system and why covering more people with health insurance matters... even to those who are already covered.

Charity Care: Are Nonprofit Hospitals Doing Enough?
Mississippi attorney Richard Scruggs, who made a name for himself suing Big Tobacco, now has American nonprofit hospitals in his sights. He's sued dozens of hospitals and health systems over how these providers provide free or reduced-price care. Hospitals argue they're doing more than their fair share and they shouldn't shoulder all the burden of those without health insurance. Hear Mr. Scruggs and an American Hospital Association representative square off on charity care. Paul Barr, a Modern Health Care reporter who has covered the issue, will provide some tips on looking at your own hospital's charity care numbers.

Biosafety, Bioterror: The New National Centers
The National Institutes of Health has funded eight Regional Centers of Excellence (RCE) for Biodefense and Emerging Infections and nine new research buildings nationally. Duke received funding to organize the Southeast RCE and to build a regional biocontainment laboratory, the Duke Global Health Research Building (GHRB), to support RCE and local public health research needs. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is also building a similar isolation facility with state and philanthropic funds. Dr. Richard Frothingham, director of the GHRB, and Dr. David Weber, an epidemiologist and associate professor at UNC, will discuss the impact of these new centers on their local communities and how basic research can provide new capacity to respond to national and regional biodefense emergencies and emerging infectious diseases.

Aging: The Missing Links in Covering Seniors' Health
The huge baby boom is about to age America rapidly: Starting in 2005, a majority of boomers will be 50 or older. Yet, journalists who cover health issues in aging often find that to cover issues in aging, they need to go beyond the disease-of-the-week approach that dominated much of medical journalism in the past. This all-star panel includes four of the nation's top authorities on key facets of health in aging: public health issues in chronic illness and disability, demographics, biomedical ethics in the age of life extension and the link between health and the human spirit at the end of life. Paul Kleyman, editor of Aging Today, will modeate the session that features panelists:

  • Robert H. Binstock, PhD, Professor, Aging, Health and Society, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Binstock is the leading political scientist in gerontology. The author or editor of 23 books, he most recently co-edited The Fountain of Youth: Cultural, Scientific and Ethical Perspectives on a Biomedical Goal, Oxford, 2004.
  • Kenneth G. Manton, PhD, Scientific Director of the Center for Demographic Studies at Duke University; Research Professor of Demographic Studies, Medical Research Professor of the Duke University Medical Center Department of Community & Family Medicine , Center for Demographic Studies. Manton heads the highly influential National Long-Term Care Survey and will discuss findings, including initial results from the 23-year round in 2004, which connect the dots between demographic, biomedical and epidemiological data on the future of aging and disability.
  • Richard Payne, MD, Director and Esther Colliflower Professor, Duke Institute on Care at the End of Life, Duke University Divinity School. Payne joined the faculty at Duke in 2004 after building his reputation as a major authority on end-of-life care at Memorial Sloan Kettering Institute in New York. At Duke, he is directing a major new study examining the interaction between health, mental health and spiritual health in elders.
  • Donna F. Stroup, Ph.D., M.Sc. , Acting, Director Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stroup oversees the Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, established by CDC Director Julie Gerberding, MD, as part of CDC's Futures Initiative. She will discuss emerging public health issues for elders relating to chronic illness and disability. She will also highlight CDCs new report, "States of Health and Aging in America."

Getting the Big Picture II
Tired of being whipsawed by one study that says "this" and then the next study says "that?" Help your readers and audiences cut through the hype and confusion of single-study. Explore the unique Cochrane Library of systematic reviews in a hands-on computer lab session. (Note: This session is a second offering of the Cochrane computer lab only.)