HomeVoteSecretary-Treasurer ▶ Lynn M. Schnapp, MD
Lynn M. Schnapp, MD

I am a tenured professor of medicine and division chief of Pulmonary, Critical Care, Allergy and Sleep Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), in Charleston.  I received my BS from MIT, my MD and medicine residency training from the University of Pennsylvania, and my pulmonary and critical care fellowship training at UCSF, where I remained on faculty for several years before moving to Mount Sinai School of Medicine.  I moved to the University of Washington in 2000, where I rose to the rank of professor.

There, I directed the Respiratory Cell Molecular Biology Research Track and led the Career Development Core for the NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award. In 2013, I was recruited to MUSC to assume the position of division chief.

I am an active clinician, attending on the MICU and pulmonary consult service, and I lead a research program that has been continuously funded by the NIH for over 25 years. I am passionate about developing the next generation of leaders and increasing the representation of women and underrepresented minorities in our field. 

I am proud of my mentee training record, which extends from high school students through junior faculty, and allied health professionals, many of whom now have faculty positions. My honors in this area include: the ATS Elizabeth Rich Award, NIH Mid-Career Mentoring Award, UW School of Medicine Award for Mentoring, and MUSC Advancement of Women Faculty Award.

1. What qualifies you to be the ATS officer and what personal leadership qualities would you bring to this role?

I have in-depth and long-standing commitment to the ATS.  My experience spans a wide range of committees, working groups, task forces and assembly programs. As chair of the Respiratory, Cell and Molecular Biology Assembly, I served on the ATS Executive Board.  As RCMB program chair, I was involved in the annual meeting. My many other roles are outlined in my CV. Also, as an active clinician and researcher, I have first-hand knowledge of the concerns and stresses facing physicians and scientists.

My leadership style is to lead with integrity, honesty, and transparency.  It is critical to set goals, articulate expectations up front, and provide feedback. I encourage communication, and I empower my team.  I strive to motivate and inspire others to do more than they thought was possible, bringing a high level of enthusiasm, creativity, and energy to my role.

Finally, a healthy sense of humor helps keep me grounded.

2. The ATS Executive Committee works collaboratively to direct the ATS; can you describe how you have worked collaboratively to accomplish leadership?

I have worked hard to ensure my faculty members are engaged and knowledgeable about the division. For example, in collaboration with business administrators and master’s of health administration interns, we organized a retreat focused on divisional finances. We provided faculty with an overview of finance basics and distributed detailed divisional financial statements, including clinical, research and educational metrics, and market analysis.  Small groups were then tasked with identifying opportunities of revenue growth and expenditure savings.  Each group presented recommendations to a panel of health system, physician practice plan, and College of Medicine leadership. At the end, participants came to a consensus on actions for the coming year. This functioned as a team building exercise, and also moved the division forward.

3. What would you identify as strengths of the ATS?

The number one strength is the dedicated membership and staff.  The ATS has evolved into a society that has embraced a broad range of clinical and research areas, with worldwide representation. Networking and developing new collaborations are highly valued by members. Being able to work with incredibly talented individuals that span diverse interests, work settings and geography has been the most rewarding part of my ATS experience.

Our integrity and credibility is a major strength. The ATS has done an outstanding job at maintaining our role as a leading academic organization, based on scientific evidence and rigorous evaluation.

The International Conference and ATS Journals are widely viewed as “crown jewels” and should be continually nurtured.

4. What would you identify as weaknesses of the ATS?

Communication, lack of centralized databases, and difficulty engaging our membership. Complex organizational structures make it difficult to identify opportunities, and can foster redundancy.  A weakness (and a strength) is trying to serve the needs of our diverse membership.   

5. What do you see as present and future opportunities for the ATS?

Improved infrastructure/database/technology use within the organization. The ability to make informed decisions about our membership relies on accurate, up-to-date information. Reliable data will enable us to provide targeted communications and inform program decisions, such as discussions with pharmaceuticals and biotech companies for support. New technologies should enhance member experiences and enable us to be more nimble and responsive to late-breaking events.

6. What are some of the threats you see to the ATS now and in the future?

Lack of financial diversification due to our heavy reliance on the conference, and decreasing revenue from corporate sponsorship. Potential ideas include increasing local CME offerings and educational materials, or intellectual property development.

Decreased research funding and stresses on academic members are major threats to our core membership, and our profession as a whole. The establishment of the ATS Foundation is a step in the right direction, which needs ongoing support. Understanding our current reserves and financial status will influence how much money the ATS is able to funnel back to the Foundation.

Additionally, Lancet Respiratory Medicine has supplanted the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine as the number one ranked pulmonary journal by impact factor. Our sister international organizations have significantly improved their scientific presence, and, coupled with other environmental factors, are a potential threat (and opportunity!).

7. What role should ATS play as an international organization?

The ATS should continue to increase its visibility internationally through advocacy, public health policy, and research. Clinical trials are increasingly global in nature, and they are an opportunity to enhance collaborations with relevant international organizations. We need to continue (and expand) our advocacy internationally, in areas such as smoking cessation, indoor pollution, and critical care models in resource-limited environments, in addition to tuberculosis. 

8. What should the ATS do for its membership and how would you advocate for the membership?

Create lifelong career development opportunities for our members.  We have implemented several successful programs targeting members-in-training.  Developing new programs for members at different stages of their career is important, as professional and personal growth is a major driver to join the ATS.  Focusing on biotech and industry members is another unmet need and opportunity.

Enhance ATS interactions with local thoracic societies to forge stronger grassroots support.   Local meetings are also a great place for fellows and junior faculty to present and network in a low-key setting, and get them more engaged.

9. Can you give an example of a leadership accomplishment of which you are particularly proud?

I am most proud of the success of my mentees. I have worked tirelessly to promote the next generation and ensure their success. Being an outstanding leader means deriving satisfaction and joy from the success of others.

10. How do you envision making time for this new leadership role?

I have been fortunate to have worked with a number of past presidents and have witnessed the tremendous time commitment involved.  From my career standpoint, the timing is ideal, as I have been division chief for over four years and have acquired a good understanding of the organization and culture at MUSC. I have developed leaders within my own division, who are now able to lead many of the clinical, educational and research initiatives. I have assembled a strong administrative team that has allowed me to delegate many responsibilities. The day-to-day operations of my research program are managed by an outstanding assistant professor. I am confident that I will be able to balance multiple demands, as I have successfully done throughout my career. I am energized by challenges, and I would consider it an honor to be able to contribute to the ATS in a more substantial way.

Click here to view Dr. Schnapp's CV.

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Last Reviewed: March 2018