The American Thoracic Society is a misnomer. In its membership and mission, the ATS is a truly international society. Twenty-eight percent of ATS members work outside the United States and nearly half of the attendees at its International Conference are international clinicians and scientists.
The ATS is committed to improving global health, which is why an international component is critical to virtually of its activities. For instance, the ATS, along with the World Health Organization, spearheaded the development of the first international standards for tuberculosis diagnosis, treatment and control. In developing other clinical guidelines, the ATS has worked with the European Respiratory Society, believing that the more broadly applicable its documents, the better able the ATS is to meet its mission of improving lung health worldwide. The ATS is also a forceful advocate worldwide for tobacco control and smoking cessation, a champion of understanding the health effects of global warming and the disseminator of international research in pulmonary, critical care and sleep to healthcare professionals working around the world.
The Society’s Methods in Epidemiologic, Clinical and Operations Research, or MECOR, courses are unique. They offer clinicians, mostly physicians, working in Latin America, Africa, India, and Turkey the opportunity to learn about research techniques they can use to study health issues in their own country. The goal is to not only use science to solve local, national, and regional respiratory problems but to also build an international network of researchers who can describe the epidemiology of respiratory disease from a global perspective.