Dear ASTDA Members,

We hope this message finds you well. We look forward to seeing you in Chicago at the ISSTDR 2023 meeting in July—a conference that ASTDA is co-sponsoring. We sincerely thank Bobbie Van Der Pol, past ASTDA president, who is organizing the meeting; Lynn Barclay and ASHA, co-sponsors of the meeting; and Drs. Patti Kissinger and Andy Winters for chairing the Scientific Committee. This meeting is the first in-person-only meeting in several years. The ISSTDR agenda is exciting, with diverse topics that should appeal to all our members. If you have not done so already, please register and plan on joining us in Chicago.

Below are some of the projects that ASTDA has worked on this past year.

  • We are delighted to announce the election of Dr. Julie Dombrowski as President of ASTDA. Dr. Dombrowski will assume leadership of this organization in July 2025 when she takes over for Dr. Abby Norris Turner, who will become president in July 2023 after the ISSTDR meeting. Please remember that several positions on the ASTDA Board of Directors will open in 2024—including two positions for individuals early in their careers. Please pay attention to the announcements that will come out in the winter, consider applying, and encourage colleagues to apply!
  • One of the main goals of ASTDA is to foster the development of the next generation of leaders in our field. To that end, we have:
    • Provided $50,000 in scholarship funds to support young investigators worldwide attending the 2023 ISSTDR meeting in Chicago. Thanks to Dr. Caroline Cameron for co-chairing the ISSTDR Scholarship Committee.
    • Sponsored and planned three breakfast sessions at ISSTDR 2023, targeting young people in the field. These sessions will cover the following topics: 1. Meet the experts (organized by Dr. Lizzi Torrone) 2. Strategies on grant funding—both nationally and internationally (organized by Drs. Susan Tuddenham, Charlotte Gaydos, and Matthew Hamill) 3. Writing and submitting a manuscript for publication (organized by Dr. Bill Miller). These sessions will occur at 7:00 am CT on July 25, 26, and 27th. Please ensure trainees and young investigators in your group attend these sessions.
    • Actively participated in organizing a Young Investigator Plenary at ISSTDR 2023 scheduled for 1:00 pm CT on Wednesday, July 26 (right after the ASTDA Award presentations). Drs. Johan Melendez and Meena Ramchandani will moderate. Please come and support seven young investigators worldwide who will be sharing their exciting work. They represent the future of our field.
    • Continued our successful ASTDA Summer Fellowship Program. Yet again this year, we received many superb applications. The ASTDA Board elected to fund nine fellowships (we funded ten fellowships last year). Each trainee received a $5000 stipend, and their mentors a $2000 stipend. We will also cover travel costs when they present their findings at national meetings. The goal is to promote enthusiasm for the STI field among trainees with broad STI-related interests (e.g., research, clinical work, public health, policy, etc.). It is open to trainees with both undergraduate and graduate degrees. We will introduce the 2023 class of fellows on our website in the next few weeks. The 2022 class is already there—please visit our website and meet them if you have not already done so. We anticipate releasing the RFA for the 2024 Fellowship class in the fall. Start recruiting potential applicants! Thanks to Dr. Teresa Batteiger for chairing the Workforce Development Committee.
    • Increased funding for our  Small Project Assistance Fund to $25,000. The goal for the fund is to provide up to $5000 to young investigators for projects related to STIs. Please encourage young investigators to apply for these funds. There are two funding deadlines each year: July and January. We received several applications in January. The next due date to request funds is July 1, 2023. You can find more information here.  You can also find the list of past recipients, which will be updated shortly with the January 2023 awardees.
  • We have selected the  2023 ASTDA Recognition Awards recipients. Congratulations to Drs. Dennis Fortenberry (Distinguished Career Award), Rebecca Brotman (Achievement Award), and Janelle Stewart (Young Investigator Award)! The awards will be presented at the ISSTDR 2023 World Congress during the ASTDA’s Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, July 26, at 11:30 am CT. We will also present the Best STD Paper by a Young Investigator Award. If this is not exciting enough, we will highlight the 2020, 2021, and 2022 award winners. Many will be present, so please come by and congratulate them in person! Please click here to review the list of current and past award recipients. We will provide lunch at the ceremony, so please plan to attend.
  • ASTDA wants to involve its membership in the running of the organization. We are hoping to recruit members for several of our committees. The first RFA was to recruit new members for the Membership Workgroup. Other RFAs will be forthcoming. This is an important opportunity for our members to impact the future of our organization. We encourage early career members to apply for these positions. This is an important opportunity to interact with leaders in the field who can act as sponsors and collaborators. Please consider getting involved and encourage early career members to get involved!
  • ASTDA’s Journal, STD, is flourishing under Dr. Bill Miller’s leadership. We are planning to refresh the Journal’s cover art this year. The competition for the best front-cover design recently concluded. We will announce the winner (who will receive $2500) in the next few weeks and share the winning design with our membership. Thanks to Preeti Pathela, who chairs our Publications Committee, for overseeing this process.
  • There was a phenomenal response by ASTDA members to our Sexual Health Survey. ASTDA will work on a Position Paper to better define the relationship between sexual health and STI prevention. The survey is a critical step in moving that process forward—so thank you for participating. We appreciate Lynn Barclay’s expertise throughout this process.

Make sure to  follow us on Twitter @ASTDA1. Under the leadership of Beth Meyerson, the ASTDA Communications Committee continues to step up efforts to enhance our social media presence.

Finally, we would like to ask for your help. PLEASE encourage your colleagues and young investigators to join ASTDA. The benefits, besides the journal STD, include scholarships, a summer fellowship program, small project assistance funds, recognition awards, and discounted registration to ISSTDR 2023.  We’ve also reduced membership pricing for trainees to $25 per year.

Serving as president for the last two years has been an honor and a privilege. This organization was instrumental in my career development. I am delighted that Abby Norris Turner is taking over and will work closely with her to ensure a smooth transition.

Thank you for being members of ASTDA. We are looking forward to seeing you in Chicago. If you have suggestions for novel initiatives, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Have a wonderful summer!

Khalil Ghanem
ASTDA President

Abby Norris Turner
ASTDA Vice President