I just returned from the 20th Annual UCLA In-Vitro Fertilization review course held in Santa Barbara each year, where dozens of reproductive endocrinologists from around the world convene to review the latest on IVF.
During the drive there, I was rewarded with a soothing view of the Pacific Ocean on my left, as I looked forward to spending time at the Four Seasons Biltmore. I like these meetings for reasons besides getting to improve my knowledge about topics ranging from the optimal ovarian stimulation protocols, embryo transfer techiniques and patient management strategies. I like them for the chance to catch up with old friends and colleagues in the field from around the world. There's a lot to be learned, not only from the lectures, but also from trading tips and stories at night around the dinner table. I first attended this particular meeting when I was a UCLA Reproductive Endocrinology fellow, but find there's always plenty of new things to learn each year. It's helpful to see what other people are doing in their practices to help their patients get pregnant, meanwhile being respectful that there are many ways to accomplish the same goals.
Also present at these meetings are reps from the major companies that manufacture IVF equipment, embryo culture media and the medications that we use in our work.
The highlight for me this year came when I found myself in the auditorium watching a slide on the large screen showing a family with mom, dad and two lovely daughters in their late teens / early 20's. About 20 years ago at UCLA, one of the earlier IVF cases involved an egg retrieval done by ultrasound guidance through the bladder. One of the embryos that was created became the older daughter and another embryo was frozen and then transferred a few years later to give birth to the second daughter. The speaker at the lectern was Dr. David Meldrum, the physician who performed those procedures. He had just got done giving an excellent talk about the history of IVF. Afterwards, to the delight of the audience, one of the two daughters in the slide came on stage and gave him a plaque and a warm thank-you for helping bring her into this world. It was a touching reminder how all our work with sperm, eggs and catheters gives rise to very real babies and families!
This year, as always, I came back with a few new ideas to incorporate into my practice. I didn't bring my camera this time, but I hope to take pictures when I go to the next big conference, the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, which will be in Washington DC this October.