2019 ACSM Annual Meeting President’s Lectures
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2019 ACSM Annual Meeting President’s Lectures

Kathryn Schmitz, PhD, MPH, FACSM | Mar 04, 2019

Every year, the ACSM Annual Meeting features four 50-minute lectures called the “President’s Lectures.” The current ACSM President chooses the topics and speakers for all four lectures. And every year, this creates a Marty McFly (Back to the Future) moment for the president, as she/he attempts to be in both lectures at the same time on Thursday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. and Saturday morning at 11:15 a.m. I’ve watched Liz Joy and Walt Thompson attempt time travel to make both lectures. I’m sworn to secrecy…but will be teaching Bill Kraus soon enough.

As many of you know, my area of scientific expertise is exercise oncology. As such, you won’t be surprised that I chose to use the opportunity to choose the President’s Lecturers to educate the college on exercise and cancer.

On Thursday, the presidential lecturers are Jennifer Ligibel, M.D., and Ulf Ekelund, Ph.D., FACSM. 

Jennifer Ligibel leads the Center for Integrative Therapies and Healthy Living at Harvard’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She is a medical oncologist and chairs the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Energy Balance Working Group. Dr. Ligibel participated in the 2018 ACSM International Multidisciplinary Roundtable on Exercise and Cancer Control, lending her expertise as a medical oncologist to this effort. She is also the principal investigator of the BWEL study (Breast cancer WEight Loss study, ClinicalTrial.gov NCT02750826), the largest ongoing trial of weight loss among breast cancer survivors. The trial is assessing whether exercise and weight loss in this population might prevent breast cancer recurrence. This secondary prevention trial is the first well-powered trial of its kind in the United States, with a goal to recruit 3,136 women by 2020. Many ACSM attendees will be more familiar with large clinical trials to examine the effect of exercise on recurrence of myocardial infarction, such as the MRFIT or NEHDP trials. The BWEL trial can be compared to these prior efforts completed decades ago, translated to exercise oncology. Dr. Ligibel agreed to join us in Orlando on Thursday to talk about exercise, weight loss and breast cancer survivorship. If you have an interest in the effect of exercise and weight loss for “hard disease outcomes,” this lecture is for you!

Ulf Ekelund is a professor at the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences in Oslo, Norway. He participates in the Global Observatory for Physical Activity and the associated The Lancet special issue on Physical Activity Surveillance. I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Ekelund present his research on the relative effect of altering sedentary behavior versus altering physical activity behavior at a variety of intensities for health outcomes. The work was organized in a manner that was remarkably simple and clear, which is particularly impressive given the complexity of the concepts! Dr. Ekelund agreed to share this research with us at the ACSM Annual Meeting. If you are interested in understanding the relative contributions of sedentary behavior and physical activity to health (including cancer prevention), this lecture is for you.

The President’s Lectures on Saturday morning are Stephen Hursting, Ph.D., MPH, and Liane Feldman, M.D.

As an expert in exercise oncology, I can say with certainty that there is a need for more preclinical (animal model) research to explore the mechanisms that underlie the observed epidemiologic relationships between exercise and cancer prevention (primary and secondary). Dr. Hursting is a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is an internationally renowned, animal model researcher in the area of energy balance and cancer and has trained many of the junior investigators in the field. He will provide a lecture on the mechanisms linking exercise and cancer prevention from a preclinical perspective. If you are a basic scientist, a student or young investigator looking for an area of focus, or just interested in an outstanding review lecture on mechanisms linking exercise and cancer, don’t miss this tour de force on Saturday morning.

Liane Feldman is a professor of surgery and chief of the Division of General Surgery at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She is part of the Peri-Operative Program (POP) team that was originally founded by Dr. Francesco Carli, also at McGill. The POP team has, for decades, been investigating the value of PREHABILITATION interventions (defined as exercise interventions conducted prior to surgery) to improve surgical outcomes. This has tremendous relevance for cancer, given that surgery is commonly the first type of treatment cancer patients undergo. Over and over again, the POP team, including Dr. Feldman, show that patients who exercise for even a few weeks prior to surgery have better short- and long-term surgical outcomes. Doesn’t that make sense? And yet, these programs are more the exception than the rule in hospitals across the U.S. and beyond. Could this be the next big population on which ACSM certified exercise professionals could choose to focus? Come to this lecture Saturday morning and decide for yourself!

Learn about the many other sessions that will be presented at the 2019 ACSM Annual Meeting here.  

schmitz headshotKathryn Schmitz, PhD, MPH, FACSM, is a Professor of Public Health Sciences at the Pennsylvania State University’s College of Medicine. She is an exercise interventionist who has led multiple trials and translated her work into clinical practice. An online educational training program to prepare exercise professionals and physical therapists to deliver one of her breast cancer exercise programs has been delivered to over 700 outpatient rehabilitation specialists across the country.    

Dr. Schmitz has published over 225 peer reviewed scientific papers and has had continuous NIH funding for her research since 2001. She was the lead author of the first ACSM Roundtable on Exercise for Cancer Survivors, which published guidance for exercise testing and prescription for cancer survivors in July 2010. In June 2017, she became president-elect of the American College of Sports Medicine. She assumed the presidency in June 2018.

In March 2018 Dr. Schmitz chaired an International Multidisciplinary ACSM Roundtable on Exercise and Cancer Prevention and Control. The physicians, outpatient rehabilitation specialists, researchers, and exercise professionals in the room broadly agreed it is time for exercise oncology to go prime time. The question is how. Dr. Schmitz’ professional mission is to answer that question.