Continuing the ALA Legacy: A Message from the 2023 – 2024 ALA President
Dear ALA Fellows and Members:
It is an extraordinary honor and humbling privilege to assume the role of the 142nd President of our esteemed Association. The ALA traces its origins back to a historic gathering of like-minded physicians in Buffalo, New York, on June 3rd, 1878. Remarkably, for the past 145 years, our Association has demonstrated remarkable resilience, evolving and adapting with the changing times.
During his impactful presidential address in New York City in 1879, our first president, Louis Elsberg, eloquently defined the emerging specialty of Laryngology. The history of laryngology can be divided into two distinct periods: the “pre-laryngoscopic” and the “post-laryngoscopic” era. The introduction of indirect laryngoscopy in Europe during the 1850s, swiftly followed by its adoption and refinement in America during the 1860s-1870s, revolutionized the field. These two decades witnessed an upsurge in reports on laryngeal observations in both normal and abnormal conditions, fundamentally shaping the discipline of Laryngology. With successful visualization of the in vivo human larynx, numerous erroneous assumptions about the pathophysiology of laryngeal disorders were rectified and refined. Elsberg astutely emphasized that laryngologists, who dealt not only with laryngeal ailments but also with disorders of the surrounding structures, should be rightfully recognized as throat specialists. This fundamental paradigm has remained essentially unaltered over the span of 145 years since the founding of the ALA. Today, we continue to visualize and research the larynx and the complexity of its vibration and voice production mechanisms, and as specialists in the intricate domains of voice, airway, and swallowing disorders, we proudly carry forward the enduring legacy of the ALA as dedicated throat specialists.
The early era of our Association was instrumental in shaping its constitution and guiding principles. Firstly, our primary objective was to foster personal connections among laryngologists, recognizing the mutual benefits of coming together at annual meetings to exchange scientific insights in a collegial atmosphere that fostered respect for diverse opinions. Secondly, we aimed to fuel research and innovation in the field of Laryngology by offering prizes to individuals who made significant contributions to its scientific advancement. Thirdly, we sought to enrich the Laryngology literature by collectively publishing our findings. Lastly, we were committed to actively engaging within our local communities and medical practices, sharing our knowledge, training new physicians, and delivering optimal care to patients with throat disorders. These founding principles continue to underpin the mission of our Association to this day. Just as the Constitution of the United States remains timeless, so does the constitution of our Association. The enduring relevance of our guiding principles reflects our steadfast dedication to advancing the field of Laryngology, upholding professional collaboration, and delivering exceptional patient care.
Today, it is imperative to continue the Legacy of the ALA while acknowledging the inevitable changes and challenges brought about by the passage of time. In our technologically advanced era, where communication technology grants instant access to information for both clinicians and laypeople, we find ourselves immersed in a computerized world teeming with competing demands for our limited time and attention. Artificial intelligence has dawned upon us, profoundly impacting our daily lives, societal interactions, and even revolutionizing the way we diagnose and treat patients. To remain pertinent, our Association must adapt to these dynamic shifts. Laryngology has now evolved into a global mission, made even more accessible through the internet age and video conferencing, fostering global collaboration. Central to our mission is the promotion of laryngology education, and it is crucial that we take the lead in advancing this effort. The active involvement of our members is paramount to both our governance and our mission. I kindly urge you to carefully review the essential dates and deadlines, including proposing and seconding esteemed colleagues for membership in our association, submitting your research for presentation at our annual meeting, and applying for research grants. Together, let us drive the future of laryngology and ensure our continued progress.
In the coming year, it would be my privilege to serve the ALA in carrying forward its esteemed legacy. With a focus on continuity, a strategic review process will be initiated, extending beyond my term into the next presidency. As part of our core mission to promote education and research in laryngology, the Council will actively work towards establishing a new research grant dedicated to supporting early investigators. Your individual financial contributions have the potential to make a meaningful impact in realizing this goal. Together, let us foster a sense of warmth and appreciation for our cherished Association, ensuring a future that is both secure and filled with brightness.
Dinesh K. Chhetri, MD, Los Angeles, CA
ALA President 2023-2024