Why I Attend: Todd A. Pickard

Why I Attend: Todd A. Pickard


Mr. Todd A. Pickard
Todd A. Pickard, MMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA, of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, is a long-time ASCO Annual Meeting attendee, faculty member, and volunteer. In the following interview, he provides his tips for new attendees on how to navigate the Meeting and Chicago.

Q: How do you plan your time during the Meeting?

Mr. Pickard: I review the Meeting materials to take a look at areas that are of interest to me and that I identify as gaps in my current knowledge. The Sessions at a Glance is a great resource to see the daily schedule for a first pass, then I look at the details of each session to make sure the learning objectives are beneficial to me. I also rely on some of my close associates to talk about what they think are important or interesting sessions.  

I always attend the Plenary Session and Special Awards Sessions. It’s great to see the highlighted science, listen to the awardees share their experiences, see the new FASCO inductees, and hear from both the ASCO president and the CEO to understand what is happening with the Society. I also make sure to attend the membership meeting to get an inside look at the health of the Society, how we are growing, and listen to leaders report on progress.

Q: Apart from the science presented, what are the benefits of attending the Meeting?

Mr. Pickard: It’s an incredible opportunity to network, make new connections, and reconnect with your associates from across the country. You can also get to know ASCO better by exploring the informational booths staffed by the incredible professionals who work so hard for ASCO such as ASCO University®, Membership, and the many journals. I also make sure to stop by ASCO’s Conquer Cancer Foundation suite to make a donation and enjoy the Donors Lounge—it’s a great place to meet colleagues or run into ASCO leaders.

Q: Have you made any connections at the Meeting that have impacted your career?

Mr. Pickard: Absolutely. My ASCO membership and the connections I have made through the meetings have given me so many opportunities. It has helped make connections at my institution that I never would have made back home. This had led to collaborative projects and invitations to participate on several institutional initiatives. It was also a great opportunity to network with ASCO leaders and serve on ASCO committees. Interacting with and getting to know the ASCO staff has also been invaluable. Many times they remember you and suggest you as a possible expert for the work that ASCO does.

Q: Do you have any advice for networking at the Meeting?

Mr. Pickard: Don’t be shy. Say ‘hello’ to people. Those who are ready to network will respond and are looking to make connections. Those who are busy—well, at least you shared a smile and they may recognize you later when they are ready to connect.

Q: This year’s theme is focused on precision medicine. What do you think the Meeting will be most focused on 10 years from now?

Mr. Pickard: As we continue to drill down into each individual patient’s cancer, I believe that we will use a multitude of innovative tools to help us pinpoint the specific genetic and molecular targets for every patient. This will lead to an exponential leap in our ability to care for and cure more patients than ever before. I anticipate in 10 years that we may be seeing more precise clinical trials, where eligibility criteria are very specific and based on our ability to detect individual or small cohort abnormalities. There have already been great strides in this area, and I expect it to continue and become even more powerful as our technology continues to expand our ability to explore and understand our own frailties

Bio: Todd A. Pickard, MMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA, is the director of PA Practice with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.