It is my honor and privilege to stand before you as president of the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography & Interventions and represent our powerful and growing voice of more than 5,000 members from 75 countries. 

Interventional cardiology has made tremendous strides over the past 40 years from the very first PCI in 1977 to the latest innovations ushering in a new era of minimally invasive cardiovascular therapeutics. You are all on the front lines translating cutting-edge research to clinical practice. Thanks to your hard work, long hours and personal commitment, the mortality rate from cardiovascular disease has plummeted by more than 50 percent since the 1970’s coinciding with the rise of interventional cardiology as a field.

Early on, no one thought coronary interventions would succeed in the long term. What started as a pipedream of working in the coronary arteries rapidly evolved to primary angioplasty and drug-eluting stents. And now, here we are with data supporting the percutaneous treatment of even the most complex coronary disease including left main, cardiogenic shock, and multivessel disease.  We used to compete with cardiac surgery, but are now delivering better patient outcomes as partners, working side by side having established heart teams and cardiovascular centers to provide optimal patient-centered care.     

Today, our specialty is experiencing a new structural heart revolution enabling the treatments of cardiac diseases, previously limited to open heart surgery or no therapy at all. With each of these technological developments came the appropriate clinical trials. These groundbreaking data could have only been generated with your participation in clinical trials and registries, ensuring evidence-based practice for our profession. No other medical specialty has so carefully and methodically answered every question encountered in practice, and we do so to achieve the best outcomes for our patients. For this, you should all be proud!

The science behind interventional cardiology isn’t the only thing evolving. SCAI itself has come a long way. Now I am going to stop here to tell you how I got involved with SCAI. When I was a Fellow and considering interventional cardiology, Mort Kern, M.D., MSCAI who was the SCAI President at the time, gave me some excellent advice. He said, “Shami if you really want to further your career, you need to get involved. Don’t just sit on the sidelines, be a driver of interventional cardiology and not a passenger. And to do that, join SCAI.” The first SCAI meeting I attended was in 2001 when the entire meeting was held in a single room. This meeting in Las Vegas sure seems a lot different than that. How far we have come! SCAI today has brand new offices in Washington DC, a new logo, a new 5-year strategic plan, thousands of new members, and a set of programs designed specifically for you.

As an example, at the current annual scientific sessions and in the past three months, we have introduced the following:

  • SCAI On-Demand: access to all the presentations with recorded video and audio lectures and downloadable slides.
  • Online Vascular Access Management and Closure Textbook: We can credit numerous SCAI members for contributing to this endeavor and specifically Drs. Adhir Schroff and Duane Pinto as the editors.
  • Online Fellows in Training Portal: all presentations from the adult and congenital Fall Fellows Course are recorded with video and audio accessible to all our members but specifically intended for fellows and early career interventionalists. An advanced structural and peripheral track will be available after the meeting later this year.
  • SCAI Shock Course: audio and video recording of the lectures.
  • SCAI Clinical Practice Documents issued for PFO Closure, SCAI Shock and Cath Lab Economics.

Professionally, each of us faces challenges from rapidly evolving and changing reimbursement models to compromised professional autonomy. It seems like everyone is an expert in interventional cardiology! I am here to remind you that you are not facing these challenges alone. SCAI has always been and will continue to remain, a professional home to you – our members. On your behalf, we advocate with governmental bodies, generate evidence-based guidelines for clinical practice, and provide a pathway for us to collaborate with other professional societies, both domestic and international. SCAI played a pivotal role in easing the burden of procedural volumes for ABIM certification, reducing the unnecessary strain of MOC requirements and led the way in getting interventional cardiology recognized as a distinct specialty.

Over the next year, I am committed to advancing our work in three areas: enhancing and developing our education platform, growing our international footprint, and fostering the development of the next generation of interventional cardiologists.

Whether you are a seasoned interventionalist or a first-year fellow, you will benefit from the ongoing educational opportunities because our field evolves so rapidly. In our strategic plan, we focus on providing all our members’ access to the latest techniques and data-driven strategies for optimal patient management. We are building a new learning management system to provide education and training to all of our members at each stage of their career in a variety of ways from traditional face-to-face meetings and podcasts, to interactive web-based learning and digital apps. We’ve prioritized the development of our educational content to offer a comprehensive digital learning experience reaching clinicians wherever they are in the world.

And of course, SCAI does not operate in a vacuum. All our educational and training endeavors are further enhanced by a collaborative approach. To strengthen our quality improvement and research initiatives, we recently announced a new joint venture with CRT. We have educational sessions together with CRF, ACC, CRT, and multiple international organizations. We issue joint clinical practice guidelines with ACC, AHA, and other societies. Additionally, we will work with our industry partners to evaluate new technologies, help gather evidence to support the use of the right technology for the right patients at the right time. These collaborations are imperative for the innovation required in our field.

While the dramatic decline of cardiovascular-related deaths in the U.S. is noteworthy, the epidemic of global cardiovascular disease is spreading, affecting those in low- and middle-income countries the hardest. To address this epidemic, we will provide leadership for international coalitions to raise the standard of interventional practice around the world. SCAI has just selected and appointed six ambassadors to China, India, Turkey, Egypt, Vietnam, and Saudi Arabia for this purpose. In this year alone, we’ve held meetings in China, India, and Bangladesh and participated in 20 educational programs outside of the U.S., reaching more than 5,000 physicians.  Over the next 3-5 years, the SCAI Board and I are committed to an international expansion, especially in developing countries. To reach our full potential, our growth needs to reflect not only the changing landscape of cardiovascular disease but also reflect the changing face of our members.

It is critical that we provide practicing interventional cardiologists the tools they need for professional success and fulfillment and provide a road map to showcase the benefit that SCAI provides them throughout their careers. This is important as we engage and develop the next generation of interventional cardiology leaders. In addition to SCAI’s Early Leaders Mentorship Program, we are engaging and involving younger faculty in our scientific programs and providing greater opportunities to serve on committees and councils.

SCAI was there for me at pivotal times in my career. As a Fellow, I was called to get involved. Fast forward, years later – I stand before you today and now, it is my turn to call on you. This is your professional home, and we need you to become involved and commit your time, your expertise, and engage your colleagues and fellows to help us become a unified voice.  When I say home, what do I mean? Home provides us a safe learning environment; it is a protected environment and a place where we are provided guidance for dealing with the trials and tribulations of life. Similarly, SCAI is your professional home for lifelong learning and education, protects and supports you with advocacy and peer to peer friendships, and has senior members who provide lifelong mentorship. We must work together to define the future direction of our field, and it is our collective responsibility to look for ways to grow the next generation of interventional cardiologists.

From where I stand, the future couldn’t be brighter for SCAI. By embracing our position as the global authority and professional home for the interventional cardiology community, we can deepen our partnerships, elevate our offerings, and enhance the lives of millions around the world.

I look forward to working together to make this vision, our reality. And as a wise man once told me, don’t sit on the sidelines and be a passenger. Now is the time to hop in the driver’s seat and take control of the future of our field. Thank you!