Course Organizer Instructions for Postgraduate Courses

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The ATS has developed these instructions to assist you in the organization of your course for ATS 2021 Virtual.

The course you are organizing will be provided on the virtual platform in a combined format that consists of the pre-recorded video presentation of each talk accompanied by slides and a live component scheduled for a specific date and time.


The Program

  • The course should run no longer than 360 minutes
  • Each talk will be pre-recorded with slides and available as on-demand
  • At least two Chairs must be confirmed for the course
  • The live portion should run no longer than 90 minutes, could include the following:
    • Welcome
    • Question and Answer period
    • Wrap-Up
    • Panel Discussion with chairs and faculty (optional)
    • Breakout rooms (up to 5) (optional)
  • During the live portion, the audience may submit typed questions about the course
  • The course Chairs will review the questions and pose pertinent questions to the appropriate speaker for reply

Chair Responsibilities

  • Chairs should be familiar with the course content and speaker presentations
  • All Chairs will need to be available at the specified date and time to participate in the live portion
  • One chair should be designated as the Host for this live portion
  • A second chair should be tasked with reviewing the questions from the audience as they come in and posing pertinent questions to the appropriate speaker
  • Complete the online Speaker Agreement

Speaker Responsibilities

In addition to the COI disclosure process noted below, all ATS 2021 Virtual course speakers will also be instructed to:

  • Prepare and pre-record their presentation according to the recording instructions and specified deadline
  • prepare and upload material for the course syllabus which will be available to attendees
  • Be available at the specified date and time to participate in the live portion
  • Refrain from using industry logos or brand names in PowerPoint slides
  • Complete the online Speaker Agreement
  • Include an introductory slide which discloses any financial relationship with commercial entities relevant to the talk
  • Disclose relevant conflicts of interest at the start of the presentation

Upon course approval, you are responsible for determining and inviting the chairs and presenters (speakers) in your course, confirming their participation, and submitting the required Course Workform. When arranging your speakers, please:

  • First look to the ATS Membership when choosing the speakers for your course. 
  • Be sure the content of each presentation complements the other presentations with no overlaps. 
  • Notify each speaker of the length/title of their presentation.
  • Stress the importance of adhering to their schedule. 
  • Share the objectives and target audience with your speakers for a better understanding of the course.
  • Manage potential conflicts of interest as outlined below.

As the course organizer, you must confirm the program, chairs and speakers and submit the final version of the course by completing the course Workform.  Completed Workforms must be submitted online by Tuesday, February 16, 2021   

To submit your course work form:

  • Go to: https://conference.thoracic.org/go/workform
  • Log in using your American Thoracic Society login information
  • Click the title of the course you need to complete under the appropriate WORKFORM session format
  • Download the Workform Instructions and print them for reference
  • Begin editing your Workform
  • Submit the Workform once complete by clicking the Finish & Lock button on the Summary screen. Your Workform is not submitted unless it has a Locked status

International Conference planners and presenters have diverse interests and relationships that contribute to the success of the Conference but may also cause potential or actual conflicts of interest (COI) that must be disclosed, reviewed, and managed to comply with Accreditation Council on Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) requirements. To accomplish this in the context of a large number of Conference sessions and diverse topics, ATS must rely heavily on each program committee, session organizer, chair, and speaker.

Please ensure that the following requirements are met as you organize and carry out your session:

  • Independence, balance and scientific rigor.
    • All participants in official ATS activities, including conference session organizers and speakers, are required to uphold the highest standards of professionalism and ethical conduct.*
    • Content must provide objective information based on scientific methods generally accepted in the medical community and be free of commercial bias.
    • Data presented should not be outdated.
  • A balanced view of therapeutic options
    • Use of generic names will contribute to this impartiality and is preferred. If the presentation requires trade names, where available trade names from several companies should be used.
  • Disclosure of relevant conflicts of interests (COI) to ATS and learners

*See the related ATS policy at http://conference.thoracic.org/speakers/index.php


The ATS reserves the right to seek corporate support in the form of educational grants for all the programs accepted for presentation at the International Conference. These grants are in support of the International Conference and are sought after sessions are approved and final programs are submitted. The grant relationship is between the American Thoracic Society and the supporting companies. Supporters have no input into the content of the program. The grants will not affect the disclosures of the faculty relationships with commercial interests.


Prior to Submitting the Session Workform:

  • Prior to inviting a prospective speaker, session organizers/chairs must informally consider whether there are any circumstances that could be perceived as causing a significant, conflict of interest relative to the speaker’s topic, and if so, structure the session and speaker’s role to resolve the issue required by ATS recommendations and ACCME requirements.*
  • Please also note:
    • The ACCME prohibits the use of employees of commercial interests such as medical device manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies as presenters in accredited CME activities if the content of CME that the employee controls (e.g. her/his presentation) relates to the business lines and products of her/his employer. Sessions that do not meet this requirement will be ineligible for CME credit. ATS staff will contact organizers/chairs that state on their workform that they think involvement of an industry scientist is necessary and discuss options. Please be sure to state the company name on the workform rather than just the person’s academic appointment if one also.
    • The ATS prohibits persons affiliated with the tobacco industry – including as an employee, consultant, advisory committee member, grant recipient, or in other roles - from organizing, chairing or presenting at conference sessions. ATS similarly now prohibits persons affiliated with any cannabis entity that promotes recreational use and/or non-evidence-based uses of inhaled cannabis products if the relationship has existed within the past 12 months preceding application for presentation at conference sessions. ATS does not, at this time, explicitly prohibit persons affiliated with the vaping industry in these ways from participation (unless the company is tobacco industry owned fully or in part) but may impose conditions to ensure that content is scientifically rigorous, non-promotional and complies with any legal restrictions. Future ATS policies may affect participation by persons involved with these industries more extensively.

*See ATS COI policy details at http://conference.thoracic.org/speakers/index.php

Mandatory Disclosure of Relevant COI by Session Chair and Speakers – both to ATS and to Attendees (Learners) – and Formal Review before the Conference

  • After session chairs provide ATS with their session program and confirmed speakers, instructions for completing or updating the 2021 online ATS COI Disclosure Form will be emailed to the chairs and speakers in all sessions designated for CME credit (now expected to be mid-February 2021). COI forms must be completed online at the ATS COI website by the deadlines announced in the instructions to be emailed to chairs and speakers*.
  • Most chairs of sessions designated for CME credit will also be instructed to return to the ATS COI website (now expected to occur by March 2021) to review relevant disclosures submitted by their speakers and choose a management option if needed (i.e. an ATS-prescribed step to ensure that the speaker’s content is seen as unbiased). Chairs can contact ATS COI Staff if they need assistance. Staff will contact the respective Program Committee Chair if the session chair and staff are unable to resolve a matter.

* Disclosure and review of speaker changes made past these deadlines will be arranged separately.


ATS will process any personal data submitted in accordance with the ATS Privacy Policy.


As outlined in the Code of Conduct, ATS is committed to providing a friendly, safe and welcoming environment for all, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, or other protected characteristics. We expect all attendees, media, speakers, volunteers, organizers, staff, and exhibitors to help us ensure a safe and positive virtual conference experience for everyone.