Session Chair Instructions

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Scientific Integrity

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    • Data presented should not be outdated.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 related ATS policy at

Managing Conflicts of Interest

Prior to Submitting the Session Workform:

  • Prior to inviting a prospective speaker, session organizers/chairs must informally consider whether there are any circumstances of which they are aware 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 organizers, chairs, and 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-employed 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 with tobacco product manufacturers, their subsidiaries, and foundations initiated by them - as an employee, consultant, advisory committee member, grant recipient, or in other roles - from organizing, chairing, or presenting 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 from participation in these ways unless the company is tobacco industry owned fully or in part. However, ATS 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 management details at

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

  • Instructions for completing or updating the 2022 online ATS COI Disclosure Form will be emailed to the chairs and speakers in all sessions designated for CME credit (instructions will be mailed before or by mid-February 2022).  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*.
  • Disclosures will be reviewed initially by ATS COI staff, and when warranted, by members of the ATS Ethics and Conflict of Interest Committee. When conflicts are reported or perceived, some chairs of sessions designated for CME credit will also be instructed to return to the ATS COI website to review the 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 Ethics and COI Committee members and may contact the respective Program Committee Chair if the session chair and staff are unable to resolve a matter.

Disclosure to Session Attendees at the Time of Presentation:

  • In addition to disclosure-to-ATS prior to the conference, chairs and speakers must disclose to learners (audience) any financial relationship with commercial entities that is relevant to her/his talk, according to ATS and Accreditation Council for CME requirements. Speaker creation of a disclosure slide for this purpose may be required, and if so, a slide template will be provided at a later date on the ATS website. Chairs and speakers will be notified of procedures. Chairs and speakers will be notified of procedures.
  • Please also orally note any commercial relationships that are relevant to your talk, and if you wish, assure the audience that your findings and recommendations are free of commercial bias.

* Disclosure and review of speaker changes made past these deadlines will be arranged separately. ATS COI staff are available for assistance at    

Corporate Support

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.

You are Responsible for Registering for the Conference

All chairs and speakers must register for the conference through the regular registration process. The ATS office will not register you. 

Onsite Orchestration

During the session, be prepared to do the following:

  • Pay close attention to time.  It is important that your session adheres to the schedule. If you see a speaker exceeding their time limit, urge them to wrap-up their presentation.
  • Attendees who have questions/comments should be directed to the floor microphones and asked to identify themselves.
  • Monitor the questions received from the audience and discourage biased, agenda-based discussions.
  • Resolve any COI issues that may arise during the session.
  • Complete the COI Documentation Form found on session podium.
  • Leave the COI Documentation Form on the podium for pick up by ATS staff.