20th APSS Conference Shows Evolution of Sleep
When the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS) first meet in Columbus, Ohio, in 1986, few attendees could probably have imagined the scene in Salt Lake City two decades later when more than 5,000 sleep medicine physicians, researchers, technologists, and associated professionals from around the world would take over every hotel and public gathering place surrounding the Salt Palace Convention Center, the site of the 2006 conference. Thanks to the event’s unique combination of both the latest sleep medicine science and information on practical clinical applications—along with its success in getting affiliated organizations such as the Association of Polysomnographic Technologists and the Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine to hold their events at the same time in the same city—the APSS meeting has grown to be the biggest sleep-medicine-only event in the world.

For Richard S. Rosenberg, PhD, the director of professional education and training for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, which along with the Sleep Research Society, helps put on the conference each year, the change is somewhat bittersweet. Gone are the heady days of being one of just a few hundred people charting the course of sleep medicine. However, in its place is a much larger and more professional event, which carries its own form of excitement. “I think I’ve been very lucky to get in on the ground floor,” he said.

Among the innovations introduced for this year’s event, the most noticeable was a name change. Reflecting its role as the leading event in its field, the APSS conference organizers renamed the event simply SLEEP. Also new this year was the addition of “late-breaking” abstracts, which allowed yet-to-be-published scientific information to be presented at SLEEP. Finally, the AASM made sure this year’s conference reached out to the public by hosting a Sleep Health Day on June 17 at the LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City. Sleep Health Day will become an annual event in conjunction with the SLEEP conference.

Outgoing AASM president Lawrence Epstein, MD, said he found the conference to be “excellent” this year, and attributed its success to the quality of the scientific information offered (122 sessions were included), the location, and the variety of offerings the event included. “There is something for everybody, and I think that is a good thing,” he said.

Next year’s SLEEP conference will be held in Minneapolis from June 9 to 14.

New AASM PresidentSets Bold Course
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine is the national representative of the field and “we will not aggregate this role to any other group,” its new president Michael Silber, MBChB, told attendees at the Academy’s annual business meeting held June 19 in Salt Lake City in conjunction with SLEEP 2006.

Silber, a graduate of the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and a researcher and neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn, took the opportunity of his first presidential remarks to both praise the leadership of his predecessor, Lawrence Epstein, MD, and display some bold leadership of his own.

Under Epstein, sleep medicine became recognized as a true subspecialty of medicine by the American Board of Medical Specialties and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The AASM also helped to successfully block or create exceptions to state laws requiring a respiratory technologist (RT) credential to work in polysomnography. And it experienced double-digit growth in its number of members and accredited sleep centers.

Silber said he would follow Epstein’s lead in pushing for greater recognition of the field by continuing efforts to link insurance reimbursement to being an AASM-accredited sleep center and encouraging every school of medicine to offer sleep education to its students. However, he also said he would take a leadership role in the controversial area of portable monitoring, which is used in home testing. He was setting up a task force headed by Nancy Collop, MD, to examine the issue. “We hope to provide an objective and unbiased approach to this topic,” he said.

Opp Takes Over at SRS
Former Sleep Research Society (SRS) President Charles A. Czeisler, MD, PhD, welcomed his successor, Mark Opp, PhD, by presenting him with a gavel at the society’s annual business meeting on June 20. Opp has been a member of the SRS board since 2002. He is a professor of anesthesiology and molecular and integrative physiology at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor.

At 45 years old, the SRS is the oldest professional organization representing sleep scientists in the United States. According to figures from March of this year, its membership has grown 67% in the past 5 years to 1,225.

Most Approve of PSGT Licensure
Earlier this year, Maryland became the third state to add a licensure requirement for polysomnographic technologists (PSGTs). We asked readers if they thought it was a good idea for PSGTs to become licensed in order to work.

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