The 1998 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Andrology took place March 27-29 at Long Beach, California. As is traditional, the annual meeting was preceded by both the Andrology Laboratory Workshop and the Post-Graduate Course.
This year's Andrology Laboratory Workshop was entitled, "In Search of the Elusive Sperm," and was designed to provide key information to clinical laboratory andrologists regarding the understanding, current use, and potential applications of advanced assisted reproductive techniques (ARTs). The morning session included reviews of pathologies of spermatogenesis and of the epididymis and a discussion of the cases of ejaculatory dysfunction. Both morning and afternoon sessions were held on important techniques for finding sperm after various collection techniques including sperm aspiration and testis biopsy. Also, modified sperm-handling techniques helpful after special collection techniques such as electroejaculation and post-mortem sperm collection were discussed. Importantly, the latter discussion led to the final presentation of the day which was on the ethical dilemmas of post mortem sperm collection.
The 1998 Post-Graduate course focused on topics of interest in pediatric urology and reproductive development. As is conventional at the ASA Post-Graduate courses, the morning sessions centered on basic science presentations. Participants heard international experts speak on such topics as the cell biology of the developing prostate, developmental aspects of androgen resistance, and on the development of the male urogenital tract neurobiology. The afternoon sessions centered on clinical topics ranging from new thoughts on adolescent varicocele to current views on testicular torsion to recent advances in sex determination and differentiation. Both the Andrology Laboratory Workshop and the Post-Graduate Course were well subscribed and received excellent reviews by the attendees.
The annual meeting itself got underway on the evening of March 27 with a welcoming reception. Immediately after the reception the Society was proud to present the 1998 Distinguished Andrologist Award to Ryuzo Yanagimachi for his exceptional career in andrological research. Dr. Yanagimachi's work on sperm function and sperm/egg interactions has provided many milestones from which others have begun successful investigations. The Society is proud to add Dr. Yanagimachi to the list of ASA Distinguished Andrologists which includes such names as M.C. Chang, Yves Clermont, and Thaddeus Mann. Following the presentation, the keynote address of the meeting, the Serono Lecture, was presented by Jurrien Dean. Dr. Dean spoke on his pioneering work on the molecular biology of the zone pellucida. The topic and Dr. Dean's work in it were of interest to andrologists since understanding the zona pellucida is key to understanding sperm binding to the zona and subsequent penetration.
The following day the American Urological Association Lecture was presented by Jake Rajfer who spoke on the role of nitric oxide in erectile dysfunction, and a state-of-the-art lecture on the initiation of the first cell cycle after fertilization was presented by Sally Perreault. Later, the ASA Distinguished Service Award was presented to Rupert Amman for his long history of service to the Society, and to the discipline of andrology in general. A symposium on male reproductive aging provided presentations on androgen replacement in older men (Lisa Tenover), male reproductive tract aging (Barry Zirkin), and the neuroendocrinology of male reproductive aging (Johannes Veldhuis). Several oral and poster sessions on topics ranging from sperm function to impotence rounded out the day's scientific sessions. That evening a well-attended banquet provided good food, good wine, and music for a night of dancing.
The last day of the meeting began with a state-of-the-art lecture by Jacquetta Trasler on use of genetic models in mice for male infertility. An excellent Pharmacia & Upjohn Clinical Debate occurred on the question, "Is ICSI a Genetic Time Bomb?", with Delores Lamb and Peter Schlegel taking the pro and con positions, respectively. At the end of the session, Glenn McGee spoke on the ethical issues of ICSI and other andrological ART procedures. A symposium on the use of gene knock-outs in the study of male reproduction presented new information on the reproductive consequences of an IGF-1 mutation (Tony Bellve), genetic defects that affect reproduction (Sally Ann Camper), and the roles of Steroidogenic Factor-1 in male reproduction (Keith Parker). At a ceremony between sessions the Society presented William R. Kelce the ASA's 1998 Young Andrologist Award for his work on environmental reproductive toxicants. The Young Andrologist Award is presented to member of the society who has made significant contributions to andrology and who is under forty years of age. Various oral and poster sessions filled out the day with topics ranging from basic studies of hormonal regulation to clinical studies of fertility and infertility.
Finally, during the annual business meeting, the members heard that the ASA continues to progress as a scientific society, the Journal of Andrology continues to grow with quality papers, and the Handbook of Andrology continues to draw international attention. The membership was informed that the ASA Executive Council has approved contracts for translations of the Handbook of Andrology into Chinese and Italian, and there have been serious inquiries from parties interested in making German and Spanish translations. The membership was reminded that the ASA is interested in hearing from persons, groups, or national societies who wish to undertake the translation of the Handbook of Andrology into a new language. It was emphasized that the Handbook is a not-for-profit, educational venture for the ASA and these characteristics must be retained in all translations. More information is available by contacting the ASA business office, the chairman of the Publications and Communications Committee, Lonnie Russell, or the president of the Society, Richard Clark.
The 1998 ASA annual meeting capped an excellent year for the Society, and both basic scientists and clinicians reported they left the meeting with new information, new friends, and new ideas. We look forward to our next annual meeting to be held April 10-13, 1999 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Terry T. Turner, USA